I have a sister. You know her as Gastrica, but, her name is Sandra. She is 2.5 years older than I am.

Sandra was the long-awaited firstborn child for both my parents. My dad was 40 when she was born. He had lost a child with his first wife in 1950. It was a baby girl and she was born dead due to Placenta Previa. He was in his early 20’s when this happened and had to deal with Baby Pamela’s burial all by himself. I never knew about this baby until a few months before Dad died. I knew he had been married a couple times and knew I didn’t have any much older siblings, but, something told me to ask if he and the first wife ever had any children. I’m glad I did ask now because with my mother’s penchant for secret-keeping, I’d have never known I had a half-sister in Heaven. (Still trying to find out where in Houston she is buried. Why I need to know that, I do not know)

Mom was in her early 30’s when Sandra was born after years and years of female problems. She was hospitalized and went into surgery in her early 20’s thinking she was having a hysterectomy. (In the 50’s, they didn’t have all the gynecologic technology of today. I don’t know if they knew what Endometriosis was back then. If you had female troubles, they took your plumbing out.

I’ve heard Mom tell the story of going down to the Nursery before her surgery, looking at the babies, sad because she knew she’d never have them, then, when she was in the Recovery Room, waking up with my Grandmother standing over her saying “Bobbie! They didn’t do it!”

I never realized until I read The Purpose Driven Life just how much of a miracle our births were. (You know how Rick Warren opens the book up with something like “No matter what the circumstances of your birth, you were meant to be here at this particular place and time”. Any birth is a miracle, but, what Medical Science knew in the 50’s, our mother wasn’t supposed to be able to have children.

Sandra’s arrival was much-heralded within the Collie and Sullivan Families and with Dad’s many listeners on KFOX Radio in Long Beach, CA.  She was highly doted on and never lacked a second for any sort of attention anywhere she went.  Sandra was (and still is) very active, busy,  and going non-stop.  My mother always said that Sandra had enough energy, as a toddler and little person, for about 2 or 3 children. She was one of those kids that never walked, but, rather ran. She talked to everybody.  “What’s your name?  You got any kids?” that sorta thing.

When we were growing up, we fought like cats and dogs.  She knew just how to push my buttons and because I was such fun to pick at, she thoroughly enjoyed making me squirm.  Our battles were pretty typical as younger kids and a good bit of the time, we played together pretty well.  We shared a room until I was about 7 or 8. 

The battles were a little more heated as we got to be teenagers.  Our personalities were different and we fought pretty bad.  In fact, one time, I uttered the “F” word in front of my mother during a fight with Sandra.  (Do keep in mind, the F Word was something that we never heard in our house)  Seems Sandra had my sweater and I wanted it back and said “She won’t give me my f%$#ing sweater!”  HA.

Sandra and I had different individual battles.  There are things in life that have seemingly been easier for her than me and I guess she might say there are things in my life that might have been easier.  I don’t know.  Even as grownups, we’ve had our moments of wanting to strangle one another.  Not many, but, a time or two.  I know I didn’t want us to end up like my Dad’s two living sisters who have nothing to do with each other over what is probably sibling rivalry from long ago.  As far as family goes, she and my mom are all I got.  Take them as they are and go on. 

We grew up and I think when our Dad died in 1992, which was coinciding when we were young adults and growing up, that bonded us.  We still have our differences of opinion and all but I’ve always known she has my back and my best interest at heart, even though I don’t always agree with her. 

This last week though, I realized just how fortunate I am to have her as my sibling.  Details, at this point, aren’t necessary, but, I want the Internets to know that I am grateful to her and my brother in law, Todd. I’m not good at saying stuff like that to family verbally.  They know that and they understand that and accept that about me as one of my quirky weirdnesses.  So, here I just say thank you to them and I am blessed.  I hope she and I both live long enough that I can reciprocate her goodness to me. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go pass gas on her.