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Sharon Randall: Forgetting my sister’s birthday

By Sharon Randall

It’s the middle of the night. I’ve been tossing for hours. I need to make a confession. I’m not proud of it, but here it is: I forgot my sister’s birthday.

Actually, I didn’t forget her birthday. It was posted all over Facebook, so I couldn’t forget it, even if I wanted to.

I just forgot to call her. Wait, that’s not true. I called her, but she wasn’t home. Was that my fault? I didn’t think so, either, thank you very much.

I left a message, along with my husband (who, for the record, is especially fond of her) in which we sang “Happy Birthday” in an off-key duet. I changed it a bit, as I always do, to add a special sentiment: “You still look like a monkey and smell like one, too.”

She could hardly blame me for that, after all the things she’s said to me over the years.

I had every intention of calling her again later. But I got busy and one thing led to another and … OK, I forgot.

At midnight, as we were heading to bed, my husband asked in that tone he takes to point out my misdeeds, “Did you call your sister again?”

I glanced at the clock and did the math on my fingers. It was 3 a.m. in South Carolina. My sister is a night owl. She might be awake. Or not. And a phone call in the dead of night might give her a heart attack.

I pictured the headline on her obituary: “Landrum Woman Dies of Fright When Rudely Awakened on her Birthday, of All Things, by her Uncaring Newspaper Columnist Sister.”

Giving my husband a hangdog look, I mumbled, “I forgot.”

He nodded. “Too late now,” he said. “Call her tomorrow.”

He then fell promptly asleep. I tried to sleep, too. Fat chance.

Bobbie is my only sister. I’d tell you how old she is, but I value my life. Suffice it to say, she was old enough to drive and vote and run off and get married and have babies years before I dreamed of such things.

Age mattered when we were young. Not so much any more. Time has drawn us close. Time and the loss of loved ones. Our parents. Grandparents. My first husband. Our younger brother.

Sometimes, leaving a birthday message is the best you can do. But it’s not enough for people who’ve seen as much of life as she and I have seen together.

On her birthday, I wanted my sister to hear my real voice — not a recording on a machine — saying, “Happy birthday, Sissy. I am so glad you were born.”

I forgot to do that. But there are things I will never forget:

When we were little girls and our parents split up, she told me sisters always stick together.

When our brother was born blind, she said it wouldn’t matter except to people who didn’t matter.

When I went to college and left her with three babies and a bad marriage, she said to have fun, look good and make her proud.

When our dad took his life and our mother died of cancer, it was her arm I leaned on; her shoulder I cried on; her heart I counted on to know how I felt.

When my first husband died, she flew out to California, put me to bed and made me rest.

Then she took me to Mexico and made me pose for a photo with a live chimpanzee.

Years later, when I brought my new love to meet her, she said if I didn’t marry him, she would.

That was also the night I, for some reason, grabbed the elastic at the back of her pants and poured an ice-cold Diet Pepsi into the gap. She, in turn, tried to shoot me with a loaded gun.

And when I moved with my new husband to Las Vegas, of all places, she started a rumor in our hometown that I had taken a job as an exotic dancer at a club for senior citizens.

I don’t make this stuff up.

I could never in a million years forget my sister or how much I adore her. I’ll call her for sure tomorrow. A few hours from now. When she wakes up.

If I forget, my husband will remind me.

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson, NV 89077 or www.sharonrandall.com.



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