December 04, 2006

My sister and me

I don’t have a good relationship with birthday parties, the ones that were for my birthday. I don’t remember one that felt happy. I still believe in happy, but not a party. Not for me. They work better for other people. Something major always happens, feels uncomfortable, unpleasant. Maybe it’s too many expectations. Poor planning. I don’t know. I’ve had a few great birthdays. The ones where I was with close friends and/or family. But not major party birthdays.

My recent visit to my sister’s was a birthday present from her. She’s always been generous for my birthday, and this one, took the cake (although it was homemade ice cream and cookies for us)! Tamar, Dan and Damian drove from New York, bringing D.’s son, Rob. My sister’s other son lives near them with his wife and three beautiful children. So it was a big family American Thanksgiving. This diluted the birthday emphasis which made me very happy. A very happy birthday.

The visit, this weekend there, with my sister was, simply stated, a turning point in my life. There have always been some tensions between us. (Even my 101 year old aunt asks me when I see her about it.) Maybe the usual sisterly jealousies/rivalries blossomed into critical distances, making a bridge that seemed hard to cross over. Somehow, without much effort, I changed my attitude. It only takes one person. Really. Even though relationship does take two people, when neither makes a move to make it work better, then nothing can happen. I was always waiting for her. She was supposed to “change” in the way she spoke to me, the way she thought of me. But really, my sister is a good person. We just had many misunderstandings. Communication between us was hard. The past was too much present. We are very different people; we live very different lives, have different needs, preferences, different ways of relating. (Our father, in his late 80's, told me he often wondered how we could be so different.) With this visit I made a conscious decision to see her for herself, not through my expectations and desires, but just who she is. There was one brief period where my usual irritations arose but Tamar reminded me that I didn’t want to do that any more (I had told her beforehand how I wanted to be more open to my sister) and I stopped. Tamar was right. Before going on this trip I had thought I would want to talk to D. about “our relationship” and why it was so difficult. To talk about the threads from the past. About the knots in that thread. But it wasn’t necessary. The weekend had its own rhythms. It was a very warm, pleasant, rewarding Thanksgiving—and a great birthday present.

Posted by leya at December 4, 2006 02:53 PM

I'm glad you had such a good visit with your sister. My sister and I just lived together for ten months. At 33 and 35 it was a real life experience. It was a good thing, but honestly, hard at times. We are very different--but we are also SO similar.

But at the end of the day, sisters are a really, really good thing.

Posted by: Rachel at December 5, 2006 11:35 AM

Yes, I agree, Rachel. And it's taken me a long time to get here!

Posted by: Leya at December 6, 2006 07:58 PM