Fridays with Susan...
I'm pretty excited. My sister's coming next week. It's been a long time since she slept at my house. Our housekeeping standards are miles apart: hers being on one side of the tracks and mine definitely on the other!
Growing up we could hardly stand to be in the same house together let alone share a room. There were a lot of fights, trust me. Mostly over me, wearing her clothes without permission or saying something outrageous to one of her friends. I was a bit of a free spirit, shall we say, and she liked to keep to the rules. Two-and-a-half years older than me, with a brother sandwiched in between, we had no idea what a blessing God had in mind when he made us "sisters". It took a while for us to come to that realization.
I remember one night lying side by side, each in our own twin bed in the bedroom with the pink painted walls and two small windows. Between us a radio sat on the old washstand which our Grandpa Daub had turned into a small dresser by adding drawers made from the material gleaned from old packing crates. It was modified to hold baby clothes when our mom was on the way. You could still read "Cow Brand Baking Soda" stamped onto the sides of the drawers when they were pulled open. We were supposed to be going to sleep, but before dropping off, we listened for a few minutes to some radio drama about outer space and martians.
Martians, conjecturing about their existence, and the likelihood of their taking over the earth, or at least attempting to, was a big topic in the late fifties. Brenda's wicked streak came out that night. She had me totally convinced that the drama was in fact actually happening and that a martian invasion was not only inevitable, but imminent. I was absolutely terrified. I still remember the nightmare I had that night, and many after that, but don't worry. I got back at her by putting worms and crayfish in her shoes. Ah, those were some very satisfying screams. Worth every stripe I got on my backside for the next six months!
As adults, we both came to the foot of the cross within a few years of each other and since then it's been uphill all the way. I remember the big breakthrough moment. The phone rang in our little house in Beeton and she was on the other end. After a lifetime of competing for our parents' attention (of which there was precious little to go around bytimes thanks to some very difficult circumstances) I had been talking about her with one of my relatives. It was much easier to "win" when she wasn't even there. But what I said, which was critical and gossipy, was carried back to her on the wind. I was mortified, of course, when I realized I'd been caught. But more than that, for the first time maybe, I cared about having caused her pain. I begged forgiveness over the phone that day with tears streaming down my face, and I vowed to her (and to myself) that I would never get into a gossip-fest about her like that again. From that day forward, God helping me, I would choose to build up her reputation whenever I could and to defend her right to make decisions about her life that were different than others' perhaps, but were entirely hers to make. Before that day we had a superficial "love" and not so superficial "hate" relationship, but since then our relationship has grown deep and strong, and unconditionally rock-solid. Pre-forgiveness reigns supreme, and we both know each others' hearts well enough to be assured that what might be taken as a hurt by anyone else, will just be laughed off by us.
We grew up in the same dysfunctional family, and so we get each other, perhaps, in ways that others would have difficulty wrapping their heads and hearts around. We know what it's like to be deeply wounded by the same set of circumstances, and so perhaps we're more understanding and more forgiving of each other's struggles. We know exactly where those struggles, and weaknesses emanated from. We are very different people (I'm the extrovert, she's the introvert) and the manifestation of those scars showed up on each of us in very different ways, but they came from times and places and experiences that were shared. Talking to her for a few hours, when we get the chance, is better, I'm willing to bet, than spending years in some kind of therapy.
She's coming to help me put part of my house into some kind of order (good luck, there, Sis!) in the same way our mom would be doing something like that if she was still around to help out. (That's the kind of mom we shared.) Come to think of it, I think that's probably our deepest bond. We had the kind of mother who made you feel like you were her very favourite child. We all felt that way when we were in her presence. It's a very good bond to share.
Next weekend. Thank God. Four precious days. Can't wait!