This photo does a perfect job of reflecting the differences between my sister and me. It is from a visit to see Mom in Florida, first thing in the morning, me with no make-up , in jammies, holding my sweet mutt of a dog. My sister, in high contrast, carefully dressed, hair and make-up done to a tee (truly Heavy D’s daughter), holding her pedigreed Yorkie. My sister loves lots of jewelry, mostly silver, I wear just a few sentimental pieces, mostly gold. We have many differences, but we are also very much alike.

I have always idolized my sister. She is fourteen years older than me, and has faced challenges that would topple most people. When my parents divorced, Linda was only a teenager. Our father left Mom with three out of five of us still at home, including me, the surprise baby with really bad timing, only fifteen months old. Mom went into a shell for a time, completely decimated by the experience. Linda was left to care for me and my brother, pay the bills, run the household; all heavy duties that should never have been on her young shoulders.

Linda has always met life head on, giving her best. She has the courage to speak up where I am meek. She is resourceful, soft and yet incredibly strong. She is an amazing care giver, having had a long career working with seniors on the edge of life. She raised two wonderful sons who have turned out to be men of great character and fine fathers. She deals with the blows that life has thrown her way with grace, always staying positive, moving forward. Her creativity manifests itself through gardening and her love of finding and reworking antique items, then artfully decorating with them.

I hope she always knows how much she has inspired me; she is the real beauty of the family in so many ways, and my rock as we both deal with Mom’s decline. We joke when Mom is being difficult, one sister calling the other, “You won’t believe what YOUR mother did…”, dealing with our fears of the inevitable loss through humor.

No matter what happens, I know that my sister has my back, as I have hers. Though we have many differences, we have an unbreakable bond. Mom gave us a foundation of independence and strength, and we have both built on that. She taught us many things, most importantly to be flexible. That which doesn’t bend will break. We are Dorothy’s girls, her ‘darlins’. Even though we joke about trying to avoid Mom’s foibles, I will always cherish the parts of Mom Linda carries within her, as well as the beautiful spirit she is. In our fractured family, my sister is a reminder of the connection of blood ties, of shared family history, and how important they are to me.

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