...because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.” (-Author unknown; attributed to a 4 year old named Lauren)
My oldest sibling, Mary Kate, is 15 months older than me. I’ve looked up to her all my life. Of all my siblings, she’s probably the calmest and most even-tempered: a classic first child.
When I was born, Mary Kate and my parents had already settled into a fairly comfortable, even tempo: let’s just say they had come to an understanding of each other’s schedules and needs. When I was born, however, being of a different temperament than Mary Kate, and needing different things, I suppose, I kind of put a wrench in all that, and I quickly became known as “the difficult child.” (Mary Kate and Sue below)
I always perceived events in Mary Kate’s life as maintaining on a very even keel. Now, I’m a firm believer that none of us comes through this life unscathed, but Mary Kate was one of those people who never appeared to have been shaken by the cruel hands of Fate the way we all inevitably are.
In school, growing up, I followed her each year, and constantly heard teachers say, with the air of Great Expectations in their voices, “Aaaaah, you’re Mary Kate’s sister!” I usually felt a knot in my stomach the minute I heard that, fearing I could never measure up to such promise! Mary Kate was very smart, and while I suppose I was smart, too, at that time, I certainly never thought I could “deliver the goods” they were anticipating from Mary Kate’s sister.(Claudia, Mary Kate and Sue below)
I did inherit all of Mary Kate’s dresses and clothes growing up. I was always eager to see what new things she’d have, knowing one day they’d probably be my new things, too, but I enjoyed that. She was my best friend, my confidante, and the symbol of stability in my life.
Mary Kate played the piano beautifully. Claudia and I took piano lessons, but Mary Kate excelled at the piano. I always thought she’d grow up to be a concert pianist, but she wound up going into the Peace Corps, living in Zaire for several years, meeting her future husband Oscar (a fellow volunteer) there, and, like most of us, juggling a demanding career and raising a family instead. Now, she has 2 fabulous grown sons who are funny and interesting and kind. I would have expected nothing less. Now, my dad is living with Mary Kate and Oscar in their home. (Sue and Mary Kate below)
“Sibling relationships—and 80 percent of Americans have at least one—outlast marriages, survive the death of parents, resurface after quarrels that would sink any friendship. They flourish in a thousand incarnations of closeness and distance, warmth, loyalty and distrust. (-Erica Goode) (Mary Kate, Eddie and Claudia, my siblings, below)