I am the oldest of 3 siblings; I am 3 years older than my brother and 8 years older than my sister. That being said, I am the only one of us who has led an unconventional lifestyle and relied on the generosity of my family for assistance even to this day. And it is my little sister who has done the most giving. When I returned from England in 1989 and went right into the looney bin, it was my sister and her husband who took on the parental roles, as my mother and father wanted little to do with me. Basically, they wanted me to go back to the UK and didn’t care how that happened. But my sister and brother-in-law stepped up and took care of me and my finances.
I have always had a special connection with my sister. We are very different, and chose extremely different life-paths, but we were always close. We joked that if we weren’t related we probably wouldn’t know each other, and that is still true. But maybe not completely.
I was too ill to manage my life, and my sister did that for me. For a very long time, she paid my bills, took me to lunch, and gave me a feeling of belonging. She and my brother-in-law gave me a weekly allowance, had me for sleepovers, treated me to dinners out and in, included me in their very busy lives. It was nothing less than a god-send.
My craziness made me extremely self-involved – somewhat oblivious to what was going on around me – and so showing appreciation for all this generosity wasn’t something I did. I think my sister knew I was grateful, but it would have been nice for her and her husband if I had expressed it in some way from time to time. I was unable.
Sadly for me, and perhaps for my sister as well, I still need her assistance. But happily, I am well and can be there for her too. There is a much greater reciprocity between us, and she is aware of how much she means to me. I am very able to express my gratitude and do often. She is quite an extraordinary person. Loving, generous, compassionate, smart, funny, and understanding.
Since my move to New Mexico 15 months ago, she and my brother-in-law have let me know quite emphatically how proud they are of what I have accomplished, and are so very happy that I am happy. My sister and I Face Time every 2 weeks or so, and she and her husband are coming to visit Kimm and me in September. Just yesterday, she deposited money in my bank account because I became overdrawn, yet still was able to tell me that I do give her something back. That made me so happy. I may not be able to give her money, but I can give her myself whenever she needs me. She helped me realize that that counts for a lot. (So did Kimmie, by the way.)
As the big sister it is difficult to be needy financially every now and then, but my sister doesn’t make it harder for me. To be honest, I am the one who makes it hard on myself. But I owe my sister a lot and I feel that very deeply. The reality is that each of us does what we can for the other, and perhaps, one thing isn’t really better than the other. I hope that is true. I love my little sister more than anyone.
It could be that our differences and the separation that we experience now make the relationship even better. Whatever it is, I feel more close to her now than I ever have. I feel how proud she is, and how joyful for my joy. I know she has embraced Kimm as part of the family and that means so much. And I hope she knows how much I wish for her, for her wellness and her happiness. My love for her can still bring tears to my eyes, and I miss her so much. But we are actually in touch more now than when I lived in Florida where she is. It is thrilling to me that my other sister, my Kimmie, has gotten to know her and considers her family too.
My sister has been to hell and back with me, and it was very tough on her. For a while it affected our relationship for the worse. But we have come out the other side. I am grateful for my sister and know how very blessed I am to have her in my life. It is my great hope that she feels some of that too.