My Sister, My Self.

 Have I told you about my younger sister – my only sister – who was born on my 16th birthday?  What brings her to mind is that  I wrote a message in her birthday card tonight telling her that she is the best birthday present I have ever received.  And it’s time to write about why.

I can still remember my 16th birthday as if it was yesterday (and Anne is now in her early 50s and I am in my late 60s); I was gripped with fear as my mother repeatedly clutched the kitchen table in labour, groaning in an agonising sound I had never heard before. And then she hobbled out to the car doubled over in pain and dad and mum disappeared  to the hospital.  It was an anxious wait until 1pm when dad phoned to say that I had a baby sister named Anne. After three brothers – all born after me – this news was sheer joy.

I became her little mother thereafter, a role mum was happy to hand over, Anne being her fifth child – and I would sneak baby Anne into bed with me after mum had gone to bed – stealthily  returning her to her cot before my parents woke.

When I married for the first time, she was my flower girl and when I married my lovely Frenchman, Olivier 40 years later, she was my matron-of-honor.  We are not only sisters, we are soul-mates.

The night before my wedding, she and I arranged the altar flowers in the chapel kitchen reminiscing about our shared life events and how sad it was that our mum wasn’t there to see me marry Olivier.  My three children adore her because she is young at heart and is a fun-loving party girl, somehow metamorphosing back into responsible mother before dawn after each party when she would let her hair down.

This leads me to tonight when Anne and I and her much-loved husband Ken dined together at Madame Wu’s on The Parade at Norwood.   I gave her a French T-shirt with glittery stars scattered across its white cotton front  which had the words “Star de la saison” .

I have often wondered what my sister thought of me down through the years struggling as I did with two divorces, three births, a serious road accident, multiple operations and a hectic journalistic career.  The morning Olivier died, she was there at the hospital by my side before the undertakers arrived and in my grieving since,  I have been embraced as part of her very large family. Anne has had five children, three are married, a daughter is engaged and only one, the baby Nathan, is still at home.  Her day job is the general manager of Otto and Co, timber merchants, and husband Ken is the managing director.

Which brings me to the card she gave me tonight which tells me her thoughts. It reads: Sister, Friend, thanks for being Both. With Love on your birthday.

However she wrote far more significant sentiments. “As an older sister you display a wonderful example of how to travel through life: with not only courage, dignity and poise but with a sense of achievement and fun.  Love always Anne and  Ken.

Words have such power  to praise, hurt or heal and her message lights up my life. She is  a true blessing .


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2 Comments to “My Sister, My Self.”

  1. By Sister Anne, 26/07/2013 @ 10:08 pm

    Well, this is your best article yet!! Seriously – I am flattered that you would spend the time to jot down your thoughts and reminisce of our sisterhood. How I wish I could remember those times that you cuddled me in bed, by the way I’m glad you didn’t smother me, perhaps that played a part in developing my nature of always wanting to be around someone. I clearly remember the times you took me out when I was little and I pretended you were my Mum. Happy memories!

  2. By Joy, 29/07/2013 @ 10:53 am

    Hello Nadine, I always read your articles in the Advertiser and am sorry the Boomer section is not as large as it once was. Over the years I loved hearing of your French connection.
    One question for you. Did you attend Nailsworth Girls School?

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