Today would be my sister Pats birthday, if she were alive. But, she died in May 2016, in Lisbon, Portugal. We were estranged and I learned of her passing online. Sad, but true.
Pat was two and one-half years older than me, and at least I had that advantage. But being a younger sister came with problems. She was in the family first, and I always felt like a runner-up in a contest. She, pretty much ruled the household and ordered me around.
I got no support from my parents in standing up for myself, so I stayed in second place. In day camp, decades ago, I was having a good time, but Pat was not. She told me to tell my Mom that I, too, hated camp and not to be bribed to stay with candy. I am a pushover with sweets.
But, I complied, and that was the end of day camp. Why did I let her push me around? I was just a little girl and I idolized my big sister without reason. I could continue to list the injustices I remember, but it is her birthday, she is deceased and therefore I will let her rest in peace.
As we grew older, a rift developed, and I was equally culpable. After college, she married and moved to California-San Francisco, then San Diego. I was jealous that she fled the confines of Baltimore, and often resented her absence. The distance became more than miles.
She had always wanted to live abroad, and realized her dream when she headed to Europe and settled in Portugal after trying some other cities. She was happy there, but now we were too far apart to sustain a familial relationship.
Pat was happy in Portugal, speaking the language and teaching English to locals. I was back near Baltimore resenting her absence, especially when our mother was ill. I was the sole surviving sister, and felt pressure to do more for Mom. But who was or am I to say how and where she should live her life? I was still envious of her escape.
I never visited her in Cascais, the seaside area she called home, and our phone calls were brief and unsatisfactory. I wish we had maintained some sort of connection, but it was not to be. I don’t have any regrets. We both tried until we stopped trying.
Her friend/executor sent me a parcel of her belongings, and I have yet to open it. What don’t I want to know? That she was successful, or am I just unwilling to accept her death?
The past is over, and I am now the sole surviving member of my family. That feels sort of strange, but not unfamiliar. I had relationship issues with my father, also.
So, Happy Birthday, Patricia, and know that I am thinking of you.