She wanted the frilly, baby-doll toting, sweet-talking kind of little sister, and instead she got the dinky-car driving, dirt-loving, motorcycle-rider-wannabe kind of sister.
As we grew up, she liked me less and less. Sadly, the feeling was pretty much mutual.
When I was thirteen, and living alone with Mom, she got cancer. The cancer came and went and finally became terminal when I was eighteen. Mom was given six months to live.
(wow, it's weird to even write that, all these years later)
Mom didn't want to die in the hospital. She didn't want to be alone. And so I dropped out of university and went home to care for her. Heather, my sister, took a leave of absence from her work (she lived a few thousand miles away from us) to take care of her, too.
My sister thought I was selfish, immature, a "bad girl" and totally unreliable and unfeeling.
I thought Heather was a prude, stuck-up, a goody-two-shoes and totally out of touch.
For six weeks we lived in a small apartment and cared for our dying mother. We cared for her every need ~ fed her, washed her, gave her medication. Hospice came to help once day. A nurse came once a day. Her coworkers and friends brought meals.
But all the rest of the time it was just us, watching our mom fade away.
Heather would break down and cry whenever Mom called her by a different name.
I wouldn't cry at all.
I could sit and talk with Mom, going along with whatever reality she was living at that moment.
Heather couldn't bear to see how far Mom had fallen.
We discovered that where she was weak I was strong and where I was weak, she was strong.
We discovered we could love each other.
Now, twenty-five years later, we do love each other. We are the best of friends. We are family.
Mom did that. She brought us together. Taught us that differences can be set aside, in fact differences help us fit together. She showed me the value of family.