Saturday, February 23, 2008

My Sister (Juliana Hatfield)

So... we pulled it off - my daughter Sarah and I threw a surprise birthday party for my visiting sister!

When Mari e-mailed me a few weeks back, said she was flying into Tampa for a business conference and would love to drive over mid-week when she was finished to hang with us for a few days, the wheels began to turn (no pun intended) - she had a major milestone birthday last month and, having lived in South Florida from 1992 - 2000, there are still people here who know and love her...

Here is the Evite invitation we sent out:

Surprise Party: No Flip-Flop About It - Mari's 40!

Mari (Sue's sister/Sarah's aunt), who lives in Atlanta, will be in town for a visit following a business conference in Tampa. She turned 40 on January 18 and we'd like to surprise her with a women's get-together here.

Mari just got a tattoo on her lower back (of flip flops!) so we'd like to ask each of you to wear your favorite pair, as well as write up some advice/wise words on the occasion of turning the magical Four-Oh (printed on an 8 1/2" x 11" paper of your choice to include in a memory scrapbook, please)...

We will provide scrumptious appetizers and a variety of beverages (soda, tea, water, red and white wine as well as a special drink invented in her honor: the Maritini... :-)

Bring your best self and join us in celebrating Mari... and the circle of female friendships - 40 rocks!

It was a delightful worlds-colliding evening and we are suitably exhausted/exhiliarated - today will most definitely be a Bums By the Pool Day (aaaahhhh)...

I adore my "baby" sister - I was 13 when she was born and truly felt like her second mother for years. The family legend is that my parents tried to have more children after me but were unsuccessful, until my father converted to Catholicism, whereupon my mom became pregnant immediately - the name Mary Catherine (which she later shortened and changed to Mari) was conferred on the "miraculous conception"... :-)

I read to her, played with her, watched out for her - I regaled her with lullabies of I'm the Greatest Star and I'd Rather Be Blue and, when we were both adults and Mari still lived close by and came for Christmas, our clean-up ritual was to put on the Funny Girl soundtrack and sing along (loudly) to the entire CD as we made fast work of Tupperwaring and dishwashing.

She was eight when my husband and I got married - he and I decided to give away all of our duplicate albums (a leap of faith our union was forever!) and she became the unlikely recipient, turning into the coolest kiddo in the neighborhood as the new proud owner of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Joni Mitchell's Blue and James Taylor's Mudslide Slim and the Blue Horizon.

[ Decades later when I was beginning to segue to CDs, after having transitioned to cassettes, I made the vow I was not going to replace anything I previously had in the other two formats, but would instead just move forward musically from there - for my birthday party the next month, Mari said "that's the stupidest f*cking rule I've ever heard" and gifted me with Carole King's Tapestry on CD (which of course was one of the many albums we had given her way back then... :-) ]

As we grew up, the gap lessened and I segued from caretaker to confidante - I still consider her one of my best friends, and we have such an easy relationship.

We have a variety of running jokes, one of which comes from the long-since-retired TV show thirtysomething, in which the character Melissa is speaking to her younger sister about the differences in their family roles according to birth order - Melissa says, "as the older child, it's my job to fulfill all of mom and dad's deepest hopes, dreams and desires. All you have to do is stay out of prison." So true, so true - I got in major trouble in high school (I plead the fifth on details) and was told I had dragged our family name through the mud but, when Mari did the same thing 13 years later, I recall the party line was "kids will be kids" (no fair!).

I loved the days when Mari shadowed me from room to room, yakking away, looking up to me reverentially, wishing she had "bazooms" (breasts) - she was a tiny thing ("Bones" was her nickname) and she threw herself into everything she attempted (whether it was Junior Civitan, cheerleading or soccer), never envisioning failure as an option. She was socially and scholastically proficient and graduated from the University of Georgia - she's always been independent and resourceful and grateful for whatever blessings came her way, even when our parents' marriage began to erode and she was caught in the middle.

Mari now has a supportive husband, a darling 11-year-old daughter by a previous marriage (I was Mari's labor coach and helped Julia into the world), a gorgeous and huge home, a responsible and respectable job and a wonderful network of women friends of her own - I am so proud of who she has grown into...

P.S. For the curious among you, the Maritini mentioned in the Evite was equal parts chilled vanilla vodka and
Voyant chai liqueur, served in martini glasses rimmed with cinnamon sugar - yum!

P.P.S. My sister is not a b*tch... but she did turn me to on my post-titled song, so I felt it only appropriate to use - I think it celebrates, without sugarcoating, the love/hate relationship between female siblings... :-)

My Sister by Juliana Hatfield

Sisters: 10th Anniversary Edition by Carol Saline, Sharon J. Wohlmuth

POEM: One Sister have I in our house by Emily Dickinson

One Sister have I in our house,
And one, a hedge away.
There's only one recorded,
But both belong to me.

One came the road that I came—
And wore my last year's gown—
The other, as a bird her nest,
Builded our hearts among.

She did not sing as we did—
It was a different tune—
Herself to her a music
As Bumble bee of June.

Today is far from Childhood—
But up and down the hills
I held her hand the tighter—
Which shortened all the miles—

And still her hum
The years among,
Deceives the Butterfly;
Still in her Eye
The Violets lie
Mouldered this many May.

I spilt the dew—
But took the morn—
I chose this single star
From out the wide night's numbers—
Sue - forevermore!

QUOTE: "A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life." ~ Isadora James

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