Wednesday, Jul. 09, 2008
Dear Diary:

The upside is that I didn't kill my sister in her sleep. There's always that.

I went back to my home town in Ontarey-arey-ario last week to join in the festivities to mark my stepmom's 80th birthday.

My stepmom's been skating through a rough patch in the ice. Unexplained chest pains a couple of months ago and endless medical tests later (pick a machine and she's been in it; name a test and she's probably had it) and still no explanation.

The thing is, the woman has always had stunning good health. She still shovels the snow from her driveway and sidewalk all winter. She cuts her ¼ acre of grass herself. She goes to the barn to help care for the horse she co-owns with another couple, cleaning stalls and wheeling out wheelbarrows of horse poop and straw.

She's always been my role model on how to age—minus the horse poop, of course. The way she keeps charging at life, refusing to back down, keeping very active reminds me that old age doesn't have to be about sitting in a rocker staring at a tee vee screen.

But because she's never been seriously ill, this brief unexpected episode has thrown her for a loop. Widowed for a decade by my father's death, she is alone with far too much time to brood about her own mortality. She managed to fret herself into major panic attacks for a while there, triggering more chest pains.

With her weight plummeting to 114 pounds on a 5'8" frame, it looked as if she might well worry herself to death. Fortunately, anti-anxiety meds and anti-depressants have kicked in and she's found her keel. It was a joy to see the woman I've known return.

As I told her, there isn't an inch of her that hasn't been photographed or imaged or tested. The fact that they haven't found anything at all wrong with her is a major testimony to her incredible good health. The fact that almost 70 folks turned out to honour her birthday is a major testimony to just how loved she is.

My sister generously offered to let me crash at her home during my visit. I love my sister, but we're both cranky women in their 50's Who Have Their Ways Of Doing Things. We can be together about 22 ½ minutes before the bickering begins. It is our childhood redux.

Although she is two years younger than I am, my sister is the one who's incredibly right wing, while I'm one of those bleeding heart libruls. We simply can't talk politics, which is fine, of course.

We have completely different taste in hair, clothing, furnishings, landscaping. You name it, and we will disagree on it. She thinks I am a freakish hippy. I think she could stand to pull the stick out of her butt relax a little. When I got off the train with just a small backpack she was incredulous. What, no huge suitcase with five changes of clothes, a major make-up arsenal and six pairs of footwear? UNTHINKABLE.

I fervently believe she could stand to unwind just a little. Wearing sneakers to my stepmom's birthday party instead of fancy girlie sandals was NOT the end of the world. We will refrain from discussing how outraged she is by my wrist tattoo.

Sometimes I wonder how it is possible that the two of us were raised in the same household.

And yet we love each other. Fiercely. We both fought tears at the train station when I left. She called tonight to say how lonely it is now that I'm gone and what a great visit it was. Each of us snipes and whines about the other, but neither of us wants to imagine that one day the other won't be around to say snippy things about.

Sisters are so complicated.

--Marn

Mileage on the Marnometer: 243.61 miles.

Going Nowhere Collaboration

Goal for 2008: 500 miles


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Want to delve into my sordid past?
She's mellllllllllllllting - Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 - Back off, Buble - Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 - Dispersed - Monday, Nov. 28, 2011 - Nothing comes for free - Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 - None of her business - Friday, Nov. 04, 2011 -


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