Hello. My name is Roxanne. I have a sister. Her name is Suzanne. No lie. This caused all sorts of confused name calling from other members of our family, especially our Granny who sometimes just went through the whole list of grandkids (even the ones that lived 12 hours away) to save time. LisaLynnWarrenBrianSuzanneRoxanneHal all in one big breath knowing that whichever one was closest (normally SuzanneRoxanneHal) would come running. My brother and I called her, and still to this day call her Sissy unless we are in a large store trying to get her attention, or we are mad at her. Then we call her Suzanne.
My sister is 5 years older than me and 6 years older than my brother. She is, collectively, 11 years older and 14 inches shorter than we are. My brother is about 5’11”. I am 5’7″. My sister is 5’2″ on a good day. We are a backward set of stairs. Her running joke is that when you line us all up, you can tell who has the biggest brain by who is the shortest. Obviously it’s her since she’s being held down by the massiveness of it. She leaves others to draw their own conclusion about our brother. (Love ya, Hal.) Her having the biggest brain isn’t too far from the truth. She graduated valedictorian of her class and went on to chiropractic college. She has a practice which is nowhere near any of you (sorry) or me (really sorry), and she is an EXCELLENT and knowledgeable DC (doctor of chiropractic.)
Today is my sister’s birthday. Again, like having a sibling with whom I shared birthday cakes most years, I thought someone having their birthday on New Year’s Eve was common place. Sissy has a birthday on the cusp of every new year, and it suits her beautifully. Lots of excitement and loud booming, crackling, fireworks. That goes along with all the crackling bones she adjusts and her firecracker personality. She has a loud laugh and a loud voice and a loud personality.Those things we have in common–the rest. . .not so much.
She was juuuuuuuuust old enough to always be one step ahead of me. She was in jr. high when I was in elementary. I had just gotten into Jr. High when she graduated and went on to college. I was 12 going on 22 and always wanted to do what she did. I wanted to tagalong. And I dealt her lots of grief and misery over the years she was at home with us. I have lots of memories of her exacting justice as the matriarch of the siblings, but the one we laugh over the most is the Libby Cherry Incident of ’80.
One summer’s day, my sister’s friend, Libby Cherry was visiting. My parents do not have central air even now. We grew up with an attic fan–and to be cool you had to have your bedroom window AND door open. The ENTIRETY of Libby’s visit, my sister’s door was closed AND locked. Being nosy and a younger sister, I spent most of my time trying to get into her bedroom or standing outside the door with my ear to the sliver of space at the threshold trying to hear what they were talking about in there. It must’ve been something really, really good to risk death by sweating in the Louisiana heat. My brother–who was also interested in the secret conclave but not nearly so interested that he was willing to risk life and limb, dared me to go and hide in Sissy’s closet. Which I DID when she and Libby took a break to get a snack. Problem was that they were five years older than me, and once I got in the closet, I couldn’t understand a single word they were saying. . .they picked up in the middle of the conversation and kept using pronouns.
Eventually I got bored, but there was no escape, so I, in my 10 year old wisdom, decided to entertain myself with whatever was available inside my sister’s closet. What I managed to find was a wire clothes hanger. My parents have those long, narrow closets with the wooden louver doors. Shortly after taking hold of the clothes hanger, I also decided that running it up and down the louvers was a good way to bide my time until they finished their chat. Needless to say, I was discovered instantly. My sister literally ripped the closet door off the track, then picked me up (I was about as tall as she was at that point) and THREW me out of her room into the hallway. We did not have carpet. Just tile over concrete. Then she was mad, because I had snuck into her room AND she had to fix the closet door before Momma got home.
My sister packs a mighty wallop for someone so small in stature. And I NEVER hid in her closet, or anyone else’s for that matter, again.
Other than our general fill-a-room-with-noise-and-presence quality, we aren’t much alike. There is a picture of the three of us when we were young. She is holding a dog that is licking her in the face and SMILING about it, and I am holding a purse. That pretty much sums us up. You could have knocked me over with a feather the first time I saw her wearing makeup. I think she about 28 or 29. She loved rock tumblers and cowboy boots and outer space. She was good in math and science and was always the oldest–the one in charge–the responsible one. The summer our Granny had her strokes, I cried when my sister had to leave to go back to school. Even though my parents and my aunt and lots of other family was there, I needed her there with me–with us.
So now I will tell you a secret–something my sister has never heard, ’cause I would never be able to get it out without crying, but something I hope and pray she knows. She’s one of my heroes. Always has been. She is confident, smart, friendly, tenacious, strong, passionate, funny, dependable, down-to-earth, straight-forward, larger than life. She has made her fair share of mistakes big and small. We have not chosen the same path. We have both made choices the other one would never make. We have disagreed on more than one topic. But she is my big sister and could still squash me like a bug if she chose to. And that’s fine by me. She is one of the people I know I can ALWAYS depend on–no matter what.
So, happy birthday, Sissy. Thanks for paving the way. Enjoy your birthday pizza. (Told you she was different!)