What My Sister Taught Me

Well, it's been a year.  Freakishly short and insanely long, all at once.  I never mentioned it, here, but I spoke at her funeral.  It seems surreal, now - but it was something I needed to do.  For ME, if nobody else. This is what I had to say:

I’m the baby of the family.  So my sister and I had the perfect relationship – she thrived on taking care of other people – and I’m all about having somebody take care of me.  Somewhere along the way, I found ways to take care of her, as well.  We were each others’ cheerleader.  Often, we would call and say, “tell me I can do this!”  And the other would leap in with a resounding, “YOUKINDEWITT!!!”  I can almost hear her now, telling me that I can make it through this difficult time.

I am left with many simple, practical lessons of life that she shared with me.  Lessons that I will carry with me always. 

Some of the things my sister taught me:
1.    Work is so much easier with two people.
We were constantly helping each other.  And every task, from cooking Thanksgiving dinner to moving into a new home, was infinitely easier with the other there.  Sometimes, one of us would just have to sit and talk – and still, it all seemed easier.
2.    Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
I’ve never seen anybody do so much with so little.
3.     You can never have too many eggs or too many pickles in the potato salad.
This is more important than you might think!
4.    We are meant to enjoy the sunshine.
She always wanted to be out in the sun.  Always.
5.    The beach is a magical place.
I don’t know how we were able to afford it – I guess it hearkens back to “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” – but most summers, we were able to visit the beach for a family vacation.  She looked forward to it all year, and we have so many treasured memories as a family because of it.
6.    It’s never too late for a new start in life.
I have always been and will always be so proud of my sister.  She was brave enough ten years ago to imagine a whole different life on another coast.  I’m sure it was terrifying for her, but she did it.  She moved out here with her beautiful children and started over again and accomplished more than she ever thought possible.  And I am beyond grateful that I was blessed to have her so enmeshed in my life during that time.
7.    Babies are the best things on earth.  Ever.
She adored babies.  All of them!  I don’t think she was ever quite so happy as she was holding a baby in her arms.  And I’ve never seen anybody more proud of her own children.
8.    Everything is always more fun with family.

9.     You’re never too old to have your pancakes cut up for you.
She never did get out of the habit of cutting up my food for me.  She took care of everybody.  Truly.
10.   There’s no such thing as “too much information.”
11.   If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
This was one of her favourite sayings – and most definitely tried and true on many levels.
12.   Black and navy never go together.
I scandalized her with the way I dress.  The “fashion gene” totally bypassed me in the family.  It’s rather unfair, really, everybody else has it – even my brother.  Thank goodness my daughter seemed to get it.  My poor sister never gave up on me, though.  I’ll never forget her expression every time I wore Crocs in her presence.
13.   Firemen are sexy.
14.   If you’re going to do something, give it your all.
Whether she was making a meal, wrapping presents or planning a vacation – she gave it her all.  Sometimes I would suggest that she lower her standards just a little to make things easier – but she’d have nothing to do with that.  She had a gift for making things especially nice or pretty or just all-around better – and she used it.
15.   There’s a whole other world that I can’t see.  And I’m glad of it.
16.   As soon as you realize that you are lost – PULL OVER.
I have a tendency to stubbornly drive on and on even after I realize that I have no idea where I am.  She would insist that I pull over until I knew which direction I needed to head.  This has helped me in other aspects of my life, as well.
17.   Never be afraid to ask for help.
Whether it’s a store clerk or your best friend – if you need help, ASK for it.  FTR, she was much better at telling me to do this than following her own advice.
18.   No matter how bad things get in life – you can always find something to laugh about.
Up until the end – my sister laughed.  She had a brilliant sense of humour.  And I know that even now, she would want us to laugh.  Not because she’s gone, of course, but because she was with us.  And because she’ll always be with us, even if we can’t see her.


  1. Beautiful as usual. I love them all but particularly the fashion gene :)

    I do wonder if you are SURE Dawn and I didn't help in the "as soon as you know you are lost, PULL OVER" department. I think we probably traumatized you in that whirlwind trip through DC. At some point you just gave up and napped in the car I think? Poor you. Such a trooper!

    Your sister was a brave and brilliant girl, and you are very much like her it's clear.

  2. Love you! I'm here for you, if you need me. I couldn't even escape if I wanted to. ;) We should plan another "running away from home" weekend. ::sage nod::

  3. Kym: I learned from the MASTER of getting lost - my mother!!! LOL. I bet I was just feeling relaxed. :D

    Jo: I am soooo ready for a good running away!!!!!!