MY SISTER ON HER BIRTHDAY TODAY
Seven years lie between my sister and me. Her first seven years was lived against the backdrop of World War II. Growing up with turmoil, anxiety, and uncertainty: a father far away across the sea. I showed up after the war was won, growing up in a climate of confidence and optimism. It was more than a simple matter of years that made Linda my “big sister.” By the time she was seven, she knew more about life than I did at fourteen.
She has influenced my life in so many ways. My love of horses came from her, as did a love of books, a love of salted lemons, and those fat dill pickles that came in a sealed bag and cost a dime.
When I think of my sister, I always think of her hands. They are marvelous hands. Not the limp, long-fingered hands found in magazines, but hands broad across the palm with strong fingers that are deft, dexterous, and nimble. Hands that have a life of their own. Hands that can do anything.
Those hands made shadow puppets on the wall of my bedroom and told me stories when I was four and frightened by the thunder cracks of summer storms.
Those hands played the piano. I still see them moving with certainty across the black and white keys; the broad palms reaching through an octave. In the twilight, before dinner, I played on the floor listening as she practiced Paderewski’s “Minuet in G Major” and Debussy’s “Girl with the Flaxen Hair”. Those pieces belong to her forever.
Those hands held me upright and ran behind me when I learned to ride my bicycle.
And then there were the animals. Her hands have always engaged with animals. They milked goats, groomed horses, collected eggs from cranky hens, scratched dogs behind their ears, played with cats, and rescued baby birds.
I could go on and on: a full celebration of my sister requires reams. This has to be posted today, on her birthday, and so is only the smallest of sketches; a miniature inked with the smallest of pens.