Sunday, December 1, 2013

Irish Twins

Hannah on the left, me sitting down. We must be 6 and 7, or maybe 7 and 8.

I was born in February of 1953. My sister Hannah arrived in March of 1954. Still, she has always been my older sister. She was brave, fierce, funny and wise right from the get go while I was just the opposite - fearful, timid, wary, sickly, prone to tears. I have always, my entire life, been completely in awe of her.

Ever since I allowed myself to be the shaman I've always been, the story I tell about us is that we've known each other nearly forever - since the Ice Age, at least. I believe we have been siblings, friends, parents, children, spouses, over and over again. I can't of course say whether or not this story is true (whatever truth is) but it feels right. The story resonates.

This time around, as has happened in so many lifetimes, I believe we came into the world in partnership. One of my commitments in this life was to take on something from our ancestors that would not be passed on, hence I never had children. That thing is related to the Holocaust. Hannah, on the other hand, came into the world to pass along something very healing and beautiful, hence she had children, both of whom are truly excellent human begins. Her kids married truly excellent human beings. Now she is blessed with beautiful, shiny grandchildren as well. She is the matriarch of our generation.

She reminded me yesterday that as kids, when the crayons and paper came out, she always drew her future family: mom, dad, and two kids. She drew a nice house for them with smoke curling upwards from the chimney, trees in the yard and a nice garden. Indeed this is exactly what she created for herself and family: stability and a loving environment.

I, on the other hand, always drew things like the Angel of Death passing over Egypt, smiting the first born of Pharaoh. I remember I visualized the Angel as a sickly green streak across the sky.

She liked playing pretend games that included themes of family and caring, such as our pretend game of crossing the prairie in a covered wagon (the ping pong table in the basement, draped with sheets, was our covered wagon). I, on the other hand liked the game in which we hid from the Nazis.

Good lord I was such a morbid child!

These days she spends a lot of time with her grandkids, stays closely in touch with her kids. Recently retired, she helps kids learn how to read in Eugene, Oregon where she lives. She is also an artist, knitter, photographer, gardener and a hell of a stand-up comedienne.

Meanwhile I live all the way across the country where I'm on the verge of finding a good translator for the Yizkor memories of our Holocaust ancestors. I'm a healer and shaman, but also an artist. We have things in common, while holding the opposites. To say I love my sister beyond all reason is a pathetic attempt to describe my gratitude for, and devotion to, this amazing woman.

Travel across the continent is a pain in the ass and expensive, but oh my, so worth it. It surely is. I am replete with love for my sister and her family. What a blessing!


We are very young here; the picture was taken before we left Colorado, so we were maybe 3 and 4. Hannah loves the cowgirl in the background. 


Pam said...

Wow - that's not much of an age difference between you!
I didn't have a sister, but felt the same way about the older girl next door who was a wonderful mentor and beautiful imaginative playmate. I felt even then in my little world that both her, and her cat were guiding beings - my own family not so much.
She is far away now, and life has not been kind to her in many ways, struggles with mental health issues sometimes, and fortunately conquering breast cancer, but I think of her often. I often wonder what I would have done without her in those formative years. She knows this.
Your childhood photos are wonderful!! I enjoyed your post so much.

ellen abbott said...

what a wonderful post. I am close to my sister as well but it hasn't always been that way. she is three years older and wanted nothing to do with me. I guess since she was first born then me that she resented having to share things with me. then our baby brother came along and we both got shoved into the shadows. but, as adults, we found each other and have been close since I was in my early 20s.

Reya Mellicker said...

I am rich in sisters!

Just noticed last night that the coat I'm wearing in the pic at the bottom was handed down to Hannah. She's wearing it in the pic at the top of the post!

A cool coat.

Steve Reed said...

My dad has always told me that nothing can replace family -- not friends, not careers. When I was younger and kept my friends close I didn't believe that family could supplant them. But as I've aged and all my longtime friends and I have gone on to lead our own lives, I see that he was right. (I'm still in touch with them all, but not like I used to be!)

As for careers, well, you know enough about me to know how THAT worked out!

Anyway, I'm glad you're refreshing your bonds with your sister and her kids and their families.