My sister has been here for nearly 2- weeks at no small inconvenience to herself. Her first time in Chicago, from what used to be a small town in Arizona west of Phoenix, Chicago has been both awe inspiring and bit overwhelming. But like a Goodwin, she's adaptable and once she got used to the visual pace of the place, the closeness of the buildings, the proximity to everything, she became more urban. More urban, for better or worse, I don't know, but very much like someone who takes what's dealt to them and makes the best of it, she's adapted to our life and pace. However, most of all she's shown up, fully present and ready to give her precious platelets to replace my sick replace and rebuild my sick marrow. She's my sister, she matches me perfectly and as they say she's "my blood."
And that's the real story. What we will do for our blood is not really known until we're asked. We don't get to choose our family, they're given to us warts and all. But when family calls, something inside us stirs, ancient, primal, instinctual, immutable.
Although only 4- years apart, our lives took on entirely different trajectories. She's a widow, married young, had 5-children like stair steps, a boy, followed by 2-girls, followed by 2-boys. I married late and apparently often, have 2-children and my oldest is a 20 something with little facial hair. My sister's oldest are in their 40's now. I moved, returning infrequently and she stayed in the area, living in the same house for 35 years, anchored by familiarity and memories. At 66 and retired, she and a couple of girl friends are seeking adventures on the open road with cross country trips to distant states important to each of them for various reasons.
She and her husband, Jerry, raised their family to be honest and loving and caring and funny and responsible and accountable to themselves and each other. Most stayed in the Phoenix area and they get together on a regular basis between kids, school and shifting and demanding jobs. I've never seen a family that takes care of each other better with humor, stories and great steaks done on my sisters fire pit on the back porch. The meals and laughs seem to come together without a plan, just some short phone calls and familiar pitching in of what each has to contribute and you've got a meal to die for sometime around 9 o'clock and your sides hurt from laughing and you don't want anything to stop. And that says more about my sister than I can ever say.
At this time in our lives our legacy is our children, it says more about how we've lived our lives, how we taught and practiced love and gratefulness and generosity, the value of work and contributing. Our children are a mirror of our discipline and love and conduct as parents; the truth about our character, I believe, is revealed ultimately through our children.
Ingrid can be proud.
So, what does it mean to me to be cared for by my sister. She's flown 1400 miles, endured the ramp-up pain of over-building her red cells and been harvested for hours in the chemo lab at UCH. All for me, all for blood and all because what seems like distance between, is just waiting to be shortened by need; a primal drive to protect a loved one. We're family, sister and brother and like so many times before she's there, watching my back, quietly wanting the best for me and finding a way to, as always, deliver what's needed. Thanks.