Monday, April 20, 2009

My Younger than Springtime Sis

Okay, I lied. The sister I'm celebrating here really isn't younger than springtime. She is, however, younger than I six years, to be exact. With that in mind, I think we can all agree that she is (at the very least) younger than summer. And today is her birthday

If my memory can be trusted (highly debatable at this menopausal point), the first poem I ever wrote was about Nikki. Surprisingly, I won an award for it. Most thrilling, of course, was its subsequent appearance in the local paper. My premiere publication credit! And all courtesy of cute little Nik! Even then, she inspired me.

I have a little sister.
She has a funny smile.
She'd like to go to school with me,
but she'll have to wait a while.

For she is only two years old,
and what would teacher do
if I brought her to school with me?
I wouldn't know, would you?

Not bad, eh? And it's pretty crazy that I still remember it. Well, maybe not that crazy. I'm beyond fond of the person I wrote it about. And that would definitely be an understatement.

Truth is, I would have delighted in taking my little sister to school with me...or anywhere else, for that matter. Why? Because I was proud of her. I still am. Back then, she happened to be the cutest baby ever, and all mine. (At least, that was my six-year-old-big-sister feeling when they brought her home from the hospital.) Today she is an outstanding mother, daughter, sister and aunt, who both chairs the English department at her school and is a uniquely gifted and quite frankly, beloved teacher there. (I know, because I took care of her when she was out for two surgeries and was lucky enough to read the innumerable touching letters from her students.) She is also a loyal and committed friend to the women, young and old, who have the good fortune to call her such. Nikki's influence extends to teaching a gospel doctrine class for the teenagers in our church, writing and directing road shows for the youth over 12 (also at church), and (somewhat to her dismay as it keeps upping the effort ante) winning her school's Shakespeare festival nearly every year. What's more, she manages to do all these things while her husband, who is a production designer in the movie industry, travels on location for months at a time. Being a brand new empty-nester doesn't make this any easier, but she always manages to weather the storms in her life. (She's had some fairly good experience at that.)

Of course, while there is much to admire about the things she does, what I love most about Nikki is the person she is.

1. a wise and warm counselor 
2. an insightful and perceptive listener
3. an intelligent and creative collaborator
4. a loyal and supportive friend
5. an objective arbitrator, able to see both sides
6. an intuitive and witty observer
7. a sensitive, caring ally
8. a talented and generous teacher
9. a loving and devoted mother
10. a brain-twinner of a sister

Relative to #10, we sound alike to the point where our children can't always tell our voices apart. They can't tell our advice apart either, and often tell us that something one or the other of us said is "exactly what their mother would say" in a similar circumstance. Of course, we are already aware of this phenomenon, because we frequently speak the same words in response to a situation or event...or later find out that we were thinking the exact same thing. Though we are different in many ways, something about the way our brains work is identical, which makes for a great deal of mutual understanding. And being understood is a very good thing.

(I need to add here that Nikki is an "understander" par excellence. She is that teacher who turns the previously unsuccessful or even labeled "undesirable" students into high achieving, happy ones...not so much because of her techniques, though these are top notch, but because of her ability to totally "get" them. Nikki is able to feel her students out and give them what they need. Better still, she gives them what they need in exactly the way they need it. Naturally, her family members have benefited from this spiritual gift as well.)

But back to what I like to call the "twinner" stuff. I'd say that Nik and I are beginning to look alike too, as we mature, but that would be an injustice to Nikki, who has always been pretty much of a knockout. I, on the other hand, have happily found my place somewhere in the "cute" category. Of course, at this point, such distinctions tend to blend and flow into the rounding currents of middle age. (In other words, the older and moldier we get, the more we look the same!) Aren't euphemisms more lovely, though? I think we'll go with blending and flowing into the rounder currents...

(We are, if nothing else, round.)


Nikki is a small person physically, but she plays a giant role in my life and the other lives she touches. One of her favorite scriptures is found in the Book of Mormon: "By small and simple things are great things come to pass." (Alma 37:6). How fitting, because great things have always come from my little sister. In fact, you can read one of them right here. She doesn't post often on her blog, but I think you will agree this is one of the most beautiful posts you have ever read. 

Just as Nikki is on of the most beautiful people I have ever known. 

And I am lucky, lucky, lucky to be her sister.



Carly said...

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by my blog, I loved this post about your sister. I too have a much younger sister (in my case, 12 years) and your post made me want to pick up the phone and call her. Which I will, as soon as she gets out of school. Haha!

Kristin said...

She really is the best, isn't she? We're lucky to have her.

Natalie said...

Another fantastic family tribute. Seriously, you people are beyond cool! I always wished for a baby sister to go along with my younger brothers. Happy Birthday to your Springtime Sis!

p.s. I'm loving your use of rainbow text! :) Makes me feel happy.

Sue said...

I only have one brother, Natalie...and three sisters. But our brother is primo.

As for the rainbow hues, those are my birthday post colors. And I get to use them a lot in April because that is my family's biggest birthday month, with May a close second.


Lisa Loo said...

Lovely, lovely post. Your sister sounds so wonderful--I wish there were so many more teachers out there like that. She is a rare find! Happy Birthday and a special "toast" to your beautiful relationship!

karen said...

How lucky are you to have a sister! I have 3 brothers, and while I wouldn't trade any one of them in, it would have been so great to have had just one sister. I envy you!

NBlake said...

Aren't I lucky to have such a great sister? I feel it every day!

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