Sisters and Brothers

Last week my sister, whom we refer to as ‘Boot’, called me. She was upset because a very close friend of hers (we’ll call her Susan) had just lost her only sibling, a brother, after losing her grandmother two weeks ago and her father last year. Her mom has ovarian cancer. It’s a horrendous situation and as I drove up I71 I blinked back tears. I know Susan, she’s my sister’s very close friend, and we used to work at the same place. She is as friendly and genuine as you could want and no one would wish this kind of pain on anybody, especially not her and her mom. I went to the funeral home yesterday for the visitation. They played a slide show of the young man’s world. I had never met him but he was a good looking guy and the room was crammed with people, every single one of them like aghast zombies. I had been thinking about what to say to Susan and all I could manage when she approached me was crush her in a fierce hug.

I don’t want to comment to heavily on the grieving family except to say that if you are a praying person or a bowing-to-the-east person or a chanting person, this family could use some of your good thoughts. This is more about my sister.

Boot is four years younger and three inches taller than I am. We don’t look alike, we don’t act alike, but we are still family. Our mother’s greatest triumph in the “I Told You So Olympics” was when she told us as children that we would grow to be friends later. We didn’t believe her then. Now I can’t imagine losing Boot the way Susan lost her brother.

Here’s why we call her Boot:

Many years ago, when I was in college and she in high school, we took a road trip with our parents to visit family in Maine. We live in Kentucky so it’s a good two or three days in the car to get there. I kept trying to get everybody to play 20 Questions but no one was very enthusiastic about it. During the trip, I decided that for my birthday, I wanted to go to the Moxie Festival. We watched the parade that included a mammoth-sized replica of an L.L. Bean duck boot. My sister turned to me and says, “THAT IS A HUGE BOOT!”And it caught on. On the way home, when it was her turn to ask one of the 20 Questions she would say, “ARE YOU…A BOOOOOT?” And now, she will call me and leave messages on my voicemail that consist of her saying the word ‘boot’ over and over in varying pitches and inflections. It never fails to crack me up. No one else would get this but us. She is also the one who decided to call our parents Mudra and Pudra.

In the wake of another family’s grief I have found more reasons to appreciate my sister.

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