Essay About Family: A Portrait of a Sister


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A Portrait of a Sister

Sitting at my desk, trying to organize all my server sales reports from work, photo-copied papers, coupons, gift-certificates and important receipts, I start laughing to myself at how much I am like my sister. The sound of her soft voice echoes through my mind, “ Lee, photo-copy all these documents, and don’t forget to keep your receipts.” That is my sister’s fetish; anything important must be photocopied, unless a sin. It’s those little things she says and does that I have always teased her about that I find myself doing now. I glance up looking on my desk for the FAFSA document, and the picture of my sister and me driving the cardboard school bus catches my eye.

January 1988

Sitting in my living room, my grandma and mom were taking down the Christmas decorations, and putting them in cardboard boxes. My sister always had my grandma’s creativity, which they both passed on to me. My sister turned to me and said, “ I have a fun project for us, Lee.” Rolling my eyes and looking back over my shoulder, to my sister, I said, “Oh, no way. Last time you had a fun project I ended up having my hands tied behind my back.” She informed me that it would be really fun, she swore. The whole week we secretly stashed cardboard boxes in the closet in our room, and then we cut out all different shapes. The shapes together were going to make up a school bus. Since my mom is a schoolteacher we stole her paint, and later that week we painted the cardboard yellow. Two weeks later, we presented our project to my mom and grandma at dinner. We were so proud of ourselves.

Looking back now, I remember that the school bus was our favorite toy for that week. I also remember that the following week my sister had a new “project”.

May 1996

My first week of JV Kickline tryouts. I come home and say, “We have a mission on our hands.” I tell her it is now time to make me the next member of the Bethpage JV Kickline team. During that whole week of tryouts, I am practically in house arrest. I think this is when my sister really teaches me that no one is perfect and she shows me how to use my strongest strength.

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She says, “ Lee, it’s always better to be sharp and smile than to perform with your technique half-ass.”

Combination after combination I do each set of eight again and again. In my sleep I hear the song playing over and over. I also hear my sister’s voice telling me to smile and always keep my head held high, be proud of myself. She lets me see my soul shine through.

Sitting in this small, steal, cold cushioned chair, inside the play room in my high school, I feel like I have been waiting forever for the end of the week to finally be here. Here it is. I am ready for it. I am sitting next to this girl that I tried out with. She whispers to me that I am really lucky. I want to ask why, but I don’t because I really don’t want to miss the coach calling out any of the new members’ names. My name is called first, probably because my last name starts with the letter B. At that moment, I am so overwhelmed with joy, but I know whom I have to thank.

I catch up with the girl who sat next to me in the playroom, later that day, and I tell her I’m sorry that she didn’t make it. As she starts to walk away she tells me again that I am so lucky to have a sister, like mine, so compassionate to help her baby sister reach her goal of making some high-school team.

I was ten years old, and I had felt like I was missing something on stage with me. I remember now--it was my sister backstage encouraging me to smile and keep my head held high during my dance recital.

Three years before, I had given up on taking dance lessons, mostly because my grandma was always the one that encouraged me to take them and she had died earlier that year, but the bigger part was because my sister was quitting. I had always followed in her footsteps. At seven years old maybe I didn’t understand the concept of being a follower, but later that evening after I had told my mom that I was quitting dance my sister had sat me down and we had a sister heart-to-heart. She told me never to be a follower, and that if I still wanted to dance she would be at every one of my dance recitals encouraging me backstage. That year was the last time that my sister and I ever danced on the same stage together.

The lights were shining down from the dj booth on me, and at that instant I was practically answering to the sound of my knees knocking together. Holding the microphone in between my two sweating palms, I hoped that it wouldn’t slip out from my hands. I was never afraid to speak in a big crowd, but at that moment I almost answered to the sound of my knees knocking together. I gave the dj the queue to play the song. “Wind Beneath my Wings” seemed so fitting for her. There is one part in the song that fits our relationship. With the lyrics:

It must have been cold there in my shadow to never have sunlight on your face. You’ve always been content to let me shine, that’s your way; you’ve always walked one step behind. Now I was the one with all of the glory, while you were the one with all the strength, only a face without a name, and I never once heard you complain. You might have thought it went unnoticed but I ‘ve got it all here in my heart. I want you to know I know the truth that I would be nothing without you.

I am a freshman in high school, and my sister is now a senior. It is the first day of my freshman year. I haven’t been in the same school as my sister since elementary school. In those days I would go to school dressed in what my mom picked out for me and then go into the bathroom and change into clothes that looked very similar to my sister’s. I remember my sister hated when I pulled those tricks. But now, I am a little more mature. I dress myself, and I would never think of dressing like my sister. Her fad is whatever’s comfortable and mine is to always be dressed up. I still remember the class period change, when I knew that we weren’t going to be just sisters but friends this year.

When we were little girls my sister and I always told ourselves blood sisters forever and then we would do our cool handshake. When she graduated from high school the phrase that we used to say changed to “ blood sisters for life, friends always.” We didn’t do our cool handshake anymore.

Graduation Day 1999

Walking onto the football field I remembered the first day of my freshman year-- driving in with my sister and thinking that I hadn’t been in the same school as her since elementary school. All the memories of practicing to make the JV Kickline team, then achieving my goal and becoming a member of the Varsity Golden Girl Kickline team, and just chatting with my sister, over nothing, as she came out of her English class and I went into mine. For every homework problem, kickline critique, friendship tit or tat and hardship that ever came along she was there for me just to lean on or vent to. I don’t know what I would have done if my sister didn’t transfer colleges. She helped me so much through high school, and I was happy to see her right in the front, alongside of my mother so proud.

As I received my high school diploma and walked down the ramp I smiled because I knew, at that instant, my sister was taking millions of photos. I sat down and as quickly as it all started I was done with my high school career. I had now graduated from Bethpage High School.

“ To Lee, who graduated with a regents diploma,” said Susie. That was the toast they made to me during lunch. That afternoon at lunch my sister had given me a little gift. The gift was a picture that my mom had taken of us earlier that day. Some would say the picture frame was cheesy, but to me it meant everything. A yellow school bus picture frame, and on the bottom of the picture frame she had our kid quote engraved, “ Blood sisters for life, friends always.”

The Day I left for College

I had written my sister something the day that I was leaving for college and here is what it said: Susie, I don’t know where to start. You have been my roommate, my co-worker, my second mother, my savior, my sister and my best friend. I don’t know who I would be without you. You have taught me so much in what seems to me my whole lifetime. You have taught me never to be a follower, to always smile, have fun, that everyone isn’t perfect, to be proud of your accomplishments, and to use my strongest strengths to make me shine and succeed. I have to make me shine. Most of all you have taught me to be compassionate, understanding and loving just like you. “Oozie,” as I used to say when I couldn’t say my SSSS sound, I am lucky to have you as a sister.

Susie, my sister, and I are only three years a part in age. The differences are endless.

You wear a sweatshirt and jeans just to run to the market up town and I wear my little skirts and sweaters. The most significant difference and similarity is that I am the outgoing one that says everything that comes into my mind and instead you’re the one that thinks everything that I say but doesn’t say it.

When I was young I strived to become just like you only because you were my older sister and I wanted to be just like you, act you, talk like you, and be you, but now I strive to be you because I respect you so much and truly admire everything you have done not only for yourself but for the people that you care about, especially me.

You go through life knowing and trying to understand with your parents, best friends, maybe even boyfriends or lovers, but the people that know you best are your siblings. Brothers and sisters see you when you wake up with no makeup on, they see you when you’re sobbing on your couch crying over your first fight with your boyfriend, they’re there for you to talk about your first kiss, a problem with your high school class schedule, a fight with your best friend, to vent to, and they are there when you fight with your parents. I’m fortunate to have a sibling in my life, especially someone like Susie who is passionate, loving, respectful, admirable, and pretty to look up to every day of my life.

The one thing that I miss the most about being at college is the silly thing, like going into her room to tell her that I can smell her and her Pleasures perfume from down the hall.


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