My Sister’s Visit

Yippee! My sister is coming to visit! My life today is so different from my life in 2011 and I’m excited to share a little of it with her. I am so grateful for the strong, beautiful person she is and for her presence in my life.
Written in 2011 and revised 2016
My sister and I had been talking for a few years about a lengthy visit together, because it seemed as though each time she traveled from Oklahoma to Indiana it was because a parent or family member was ill, dying or dead. Of course, there were other visits that didn’t have that core of crisis and sadness, but those visits always seemed too short and incomplete. It felt as though there was still laughter waiting to be shared, another adventure just around the corner, or one more enjoyable experience to be penned in our too short storybook of sisterhood. The shared blood of our father Harry has always run through our veins, but we became true sisters the first time we met in 1996.
Even though her mother told her differently all her life, she always knew in her heart that she had another family out there somewhere. I knew she was out there too, because my mother told me of her existence, once, when I was a very young child. As a little girl I remember gazing up into the night sky and wondering if my sister was seeing the same shooting star I saw. I wondered if her eyes were brown, like mine, or if, like me, she was a tomboy.
My knowledge of her existence was a secret I kept from my father and my brothers, and I never asked my mother about her again. I was afraid she would tell me Candi was just a made up story, one of her “flights of fancy” that her mental illness sometimes took her on. But, I held onto the “knowing” of Candi’s existence and believed it was true. So when she finally came to find us in 1996, I was not at all surprised. I just wondered what had taken her so long.
Our father died in April of 2004 and our stepmother, who took the evil out of stepmother with her ready laughter, great sense of humor, and the unconditional love she unquestioningly bestowed, died in May of 2011 after a lengthy, miserable 7 year battle with Alzheimer’s. Her illness, like the ocean’s tide, swept away the last fragile pieces of the life she and our father had built together, and flooded all our lives with destructive emotions and disagreement on how to best care for her. Several months after her death we began to reveal to one another the pieces we each held onto during the flood, hoping a time would come when we would be able to arrange them again into something familiar. In 2016 there are still pieces missing which may never be restored.
After our Mom’s funeral I once again asked Candi to make time for a long visit. She had just retired from her nursing career and she agreed to three weeks. However, being the little sister who can’t ever get enough of her big sister, I continued to beg, “Just one more week, please! One whole month. We may never have this opportunity again!” Being the smart and kind woman she is…she agreed to a month, but purchased a one way ticket to Indianapolis, thinking she could book a flight home in a hurry if our visit turned out to be less than grand.
A month. Wow! That’s the longest period of time we’ve ever spent together at one stretch. Candi and I grew up in different households and walked into each other’s lives late in life, but I’ve always thought of us as being alike in many ways. We enjoy peace and quiet, family, friendship, animals, fun, food, books, and sharing time together with those we love. We love poking around in antique shops, garage sales, and just treasure seeking in general. We are both easily moved to tears, we both love to laugh for even the smallest reasons, and we enjoy each other’s company. There are so many things we’ve wanted to do together and finally we have the time. That’s what we thought anyway!
Each morning during her visit I woke up early, tip toed to my bedroom door quietly opening and closing it behind me, so as to not wake my sleeping husband. I wanted to savor this time alone with my sister.
In the kitchen I filled the kettle with water for our tea, set out our cups and saucers, trying not to rattle them too loudly, placed a paper lace doily on each saucer and about the time the cup touched the doily on the saucer, Sis would pad into the kitchen on leopard skin slippers, with a whispered “good morning”, and together we would finish gathering the loose tea, sugar, and milk we needed to make our morning chai tea. It became our morning ritual, both of us moving, doing what was needed, anticipating and fulfilling each other’s needs without a sound.
Still quiet, we picked up our tea and our book and headed for the screened in porch. Even when the weather was a little too cool, we sat on the porch, wrapped in our robes and the quiet of morning, sipping our hot tea. Some mornings we turned on the fountain and listened to the splashing water as we talked, and almost every morning we took turns reading to each other from a favorite book, “The Education of Little Tree”. As one of us read a particularly sad or touching chapter, we cried together, sharing the sadness, at times becoming unable to read another word until those feelings lessened a little. In those in between moments, as the tears rolled down our faces, we looked at each other and giggled through our tears at how silly we were. We could hear our Dad saying, “You silly girls!”, and that would make us start laughing or crying, or both, all over again. It was silly, and so satisfying!
The plan we had for a sister visit filled with sisterly things to do turned, coincidentally, into time mostly spent settling estate matters that arose a day after she arrived. She was a great blessing to me and her presence and support gave me the strength to finalize the cleaning out and selling of our parents’ properties. We both see now this visit was part of the bigger plan, maybe our parents’ plan that we weren’t privy to. For me, there was never an uncomfortable movement, just a harmony of motion. Living with a man has its own joys, but I have seldom experienced this synchronized sense of movement with a man. It has occurred with other women friends, but never quite as easily as with my sister Candi.
She spent a whole month, enough time to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of my life, and I hope she saw some beauty too. For me, the greatest beauty of that month long story in our sister storybook, was how much we enjoy each other’s company, our single-heartedness, and how we “get”, really “get”, each other.
I believe the connection between us was always there…present, but unseen…until the loom of life’s events brought the threads of our lives and our hearts together into a pattern we could finally see and touch. That tapestry, when it was finally revealed, was more beautiful than we could ever imagine. When Candi went home after that month long visit she took a little piece of my heart with her, but I know she will keep it safe, and it will keep us connected, just as it always has.

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