Friday, April 18, 2014
I only have one sister. But when you have one like Cynthia, you don’t need to have anymore. We’ve been best friends, soul mates and frequent lunch partners for decades. We’d do anything for each other. But it wasn’t always that way.
She’ll tell you I’m her older sister – by 10 years. True.
Her birthday is April 21. She’ll tell you she shares that day with Elizabeth Windsor. Also true. Queen Elizabeth II was born on that same date, but Great Britain celebrates her majesty’s official natal day on a June Saturday with a Birthday Parade, aka Trooping the Colour.
What I’ll tell you is that my sister started driving me crazy immediately after emerging from babyhood. In her infant years she was a darling to play with and help care for. It stayed that way until she started to run. I don’t think she ever walked. She never “toddled.” She ran. “Go get Cynthia,” was the constant mantra from our mother.
We experimented – only once – taking her to church during her second year. She proceeded to run up and down on the pews behind the parishioners as they stood during different parts of the service. Guess who had to go get her? The next Sunday mother said with clenched teeth. “That child’s going to the nursery! You take her. I’ll stay with your brother Mike.”
“That child” didn’t want to go, so I had to frog march her down the cathedral stairs and literally ski her across the tiled floor to the basement classroom where all the terrible two year olds were held hostage.
At about age six she outdid herself. She wandered off while we were shopping together at Rich’s Department Store in downtown Atlanta. I frantically looked up and down the aisles. Security was called and the entire store was put on red alert. Guards were stationed at all the doors. No Cynthia. I had to call our mother and say I couldn’t find my baby sister.
“Mommm,” I began.
Mercifully she immediately interrupted, saying, “It’s okay. She’s home.”
Seems that scamp called our dad at work and told him I’d lost her! She was picked up and taken 20 some miles back to our Buckhead home while the search was still ongoing at the store. This was in the dark ages, before cell phones, so there was no way to let me know.
During that same year she began sitting on our front steps collecting 50 cents admission when my dates came to get me. (The only one who declined to pay up was Jim!)
After many years in different states – and different countries – we now live several blocks apart, and get together frequently. Given equal time, she probably wouldn’t even mention that I was a bossy big sister. Or that I’d often try to sneak out alone so I wouldn’t have to take her along “again!” Nowadays, we both laugh at former peccadillos. She doesn’t frog march me down the street, but does reach out to help me up and down curbs or stairs.
She always says “what do you want to do?” When I’m sick, she’s there almost before my temperature is read. How do you deal with a person like that—childhood pranks notwithstanding? Simple. It’s called love. You don’t wait until Sister’s Day, Aug. 3. You celebrate now. So – “Happy Birthday sis.” Lunch on Monday?
P.S. I’m buying!