Having just watched JFK’s inauguration the month before, my 3-year-old self answered as solemnly as if I was being sworn in as President of the United States myself, “OK, Mom.”
And there was a brief period of time where I was able to teach her things. I held her hands while she learned to walk. I marched her around the house, pointing at things and saying what they were, waiting for her response, and so helped her learn to talk. But once she was walking and talking, it was all over – my job was done. She was off and running.
I got a bike for my 6th birthday and she was riding it when she was barely 3. Same thing with my roller skates. Our parents learned just to buy things in twos after that.
We learned to swim together: I was 7, she was 4. Determined never to be left behind, her favorite words seemed to be, “I can do it myself.” And she could, with determination overcoming size, she became my equal in just about every contest, sport or game. One thing was for certain, she was not going to be left behind just because she was younger.
So it was a weird job, being her big sister. Take care of her? She’s about as self-reliant as they come. Teach her things? Not much to do there, she caught on so fast. Keep her safe? Only if you could catch her.
Whatever I was doing, she wanted to do it, too. Right now. She was never the “little” sister. Nobody was going to tell her she was too little for anything. And that kept right on going. She jumped head-first into adult responsibilities as soon as possible. In fact, I met colleagues of hers when we were in our 20s who were shocked to find out she was as young as she was, not because she looked old but because she had already accomplished so much. (In fact, I once won $20 off someone who thought I was kidding by claiming to be the oldest.)
It’s been interesting to see how those qualities remained consistent through the years. She is still as strong and independent and scrappy as they come. (scrappy, adjective: full of fighting spirit)
Like she would’ve told you when she was 3, she’s not little, she’s big. And I have to agree. Big in spirit. Big in heart.
So today I’m celebrating 50 years of having my “big” sister in my life. Happy Birthday. I love you, Lize.