[As previously seen on Facebook]

Today is my sister’s birthday and I didn’t even send her a card! Although I did whip up a painting for her and sent that to her via text but I did that only because her daughter painted some awesome thing for her in an evening and I hate being shown up by children. The monsters.

ANYHOO, in lieu of a card I just thought I’d talk smack about her from all the years I’ve known her. Here is a random list of things you might not have known about Stephanie. Yes, some of these may be just for the adults so keep the children away. You know how I am.

When we were very little we were the only kids on our street so we only had each other to play with so it’s lucky we got along so well. One of the things we would do would go bowling. It was with a plastic ball and 10 plastic pins but it was bowling to us and, luckily for our scores, no gutter in the hallway that doubled as our bowling lane. We got many strikes, aping our parents as kids often do. Thank god they weren’t tennis players. There wouldn’t be an unbroken vase in the house.

Speaking of vases, I must confess that the one broken one resulted in a glass fragment flying through the air and actually slicing her on the calf. We were a lot older at this time, old enough for me to drive her to the ER but not old enough to realize I needed to. I know siblings always leave some scars on their brothers and sisters. I just didn’t expect to have mine be something so permanent. Luckily she has such great gams now no one ever notices that she’s been marred for life by an uncaring brother. Another one of my mistakes she’s ignored over these years.

She was an incredible softball player in her younger years. I don’t know if any of you know that. A fierce pitcher. Unfortunately, she was kinda like that chick who breaks down in A League of Their Own because the high school age assistant coach (AKA sadist) would yell at her so much despite the fact she was the best pitcher in the league. Turns out there’s a lot of crying in baseball after all. It’s a testimony to her resolve that she hung in there season after season, probably a gift to our father who, with me, didn’t get the sports heir that he wanted. So it was up to Stephanie to fit the bill. She did so with honors. I owe her for that. One of the many things she did for me without asking. One of the many things she did in her life to make our parents happy, no real thought to what she wanted to do. But then again, that’s how she is now, as she’s always been. She should probably be a little more selfish. She’s so selfless now no one would even notice if she took an extra slice of cake for herself. Not that we’d notice anyway. The chick has a rockin’ body (and no I’m not being Trump creepy by saying that. It’s just a fact.)

As her older brother, I introduced her to a lot of things, many of them illicit or at least unhealthy. Probably a few illegal but it was the 70s and it was a different time then. No one looked twice if you gave your little sister peppermint schnapps or poppers, one of which she indulged on at my urging on our way to see the movie Poltergeist together. It was raining that day and I remember she found the windshield wipers hilarious. That was the day I realized she was too young to do poppers or shots. From then on, she would have to score them on her own.

We fought occasionally but nothing like a lot of siblings do. You couldn’t really fight with Stephanie. She never fought back so there was never really anything close to a battle. You either just got your way or you quit because trying to get your way was no fun, not without any real opposition that is. Today is pretty much the same and that’s one of the many reasons I love her so much. I may not try to put upon her any of my many ills or transgressions but they fall on her strong shoulders much the same. Her shoulders aren’t just made of granite but Kleenex as well. And I’ve put my head there more than any one ever should. But she’s there for me and I put that fact to good use. I’m thankful for her. No one is there for me like my own sister is.

I don’t think Stephanie ever thought she was pretty. I find that a shame because she always was. Just because she’s got a bitchin’ haircut now and a runner’s physique doesn’t really mean much to me. I mean, when one of the older neighbor kids was in a college photography class, Stephanie was the first person he asked to model for him. And not in a Diane Arbus kind of way either. He did it because she’d take a lovely picture, a gift I used when I had my own college photography class as well. When I needed a beautiful subject, I passed by the roses and went straight for the flower in my own family. It was obvious. I got an A in photography. See, again, me coasting on her talents and gifts.

I could go on but I’ll save the rest for another birthday. I hope she has a hundred more, not a wish I particularly harbor for myself. Me, I’ll be fine when I leave. The prospect of drooling and having others care for me in my old age isn’t particularly appealing and, like I said earlier, with the kind of person Stephanie is, the task of being my caretaker would probably fall to her. And she deserves a much better birthday gift than that.

So I hope this little tribute to her makes her smile. She’s given me plenty to smile about over the years. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better pal when I was a kid, friend when I was older, soul sister when I found my own soul, and familial comrade always. She is one of the first women that springs to mind when I think about the wonderful things women are. She is graceful and giving, she is hilarious and heartwarming. She is fiercely intelligent and forever faithful. She is my rock in storms and my balloon in the sky. I never cease to marvel at how lucky I am. When I question God’s love for me, all I have to do is turn to the left, regard the girl who was given me when I was just a little thing, and realize he loves me very, very much.

Almost as much as I love Stephanie.

Happy Birthday, love. And many, many more. Today I might even stomach a shot of Schnapps in your honor. And turn on my windshield wipers. And laugh. And think of you.