One Step with a Sister Smile

Every day. Every day, before taking the first step of fifteen up a flight of stairs, I glance over to my right. This picture hangs among many … so delicate it is in my line of sight. Never do I ever pass by without thinking of my sister – if only for a second or two. This isn’t to say she’s not around. A few hours and a quarter tank of gas, I’d be at her front door. “Go west, semi-old man … “, and visit your slightly older sister sometime!

We weren’t old back then, for sure. The two of us hung out together a lot. Not surprising a picture showing off our smiles exists because it happened on porches, in boardwalks penny arcades, cheap family motel suites, and while we donned off-white cherub choir robes. We had each other to bounce smiles off of when happys and giggles hid behind adult stresses and concerns swirling about our home.

Yes, I do think about my sister when passing by this picture. Today, more than a few seconds…

…It’s because we’re so much alike – today, yesterday, and tomorrow. As adults, those three days, no matter when they fall on the calendar during any year, provide us with,”you, too?” moments. Times when we connect experiences together are wonderful. Separately thinking or acting lives in worlds, separated by concrete and time, come together in seconds through a phone – vanishing the weeks gone by during which we didn’t connect.

I stopped in to see our dad this afternoon. As usual, he was talking to my sister and chatting up the news of the day. She listens, he talks. So goes the daily long-distance phone call between the oldest of three and her father. I, the middle child – an appeaser and quite possibly the eyes and ears on the ground – am very comfortable checking in to see if all is well with the man who now struggles with names and occasional logic patterns. These are the smiling roles both my sister and I gladly play in the theatrical performance of a one-man, late stage in life, show.

We communicate ideas and thoughts just like we used to do in those rooms and arcades. Just now, the skeeballs, sandy footprints on the boardwalk, cherub robes, and baseball cards on the front porch have been replaced with “What to do’s?”, and “What to thinks?” about our dear dad.

Dad is fine, kinda. No worries, yet. The “You, too?” moments now are connected with wordy sentences sounding like answers we don’t really have at the moment. “Oh, you heard him say that, too?”, or “Man, I think I feel the same way …”. followed by a bunch of back and forth wadda-ya- thinks?

We know these moments aren’t unique to us. Thousands of sons and daughters have these conversations every day. Perhaps you are chit-chatting ideas back and forth over wires or airwaves with someone you love much as I love my sister? She and I are really trying our best to pilot this plane we have no idea how to fly.

For now … and today, after stopping in to see him, we went out for lunch. The usual Wednesday Canal burger satisfied my hunger while he decided a conversation about the local road construction was the best use of his time. Actually, this was a relief from politics and money … his usual go-to. Sure, names were a problem and I was glad to help. So goes life.

I have a sister, never forget how and when to smile, and never miss that first step. We were young once. I still feel that way when I see that picture, if only for a few seconds. There will come a day for me, possibly, when I lose my ability to remember names, places, or experiences. If that day comes, I want to smile….

I believe that is the first step in any process … no matter the challenge. I’m just one of the fortunate ones to have a sister by my side. If only in a picture fifty years old hanging so delicately in my life most times, that’s perfectly fine; however, I like the phone calls, too. I think she’d agree.

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