02.28.10

Why God Gave Me a Little Sister

Posted in Monthly at 9:50 am by Pasha

By Pasha Holiday

My memories do not reach most of my childhood. I get vivid flashbacks of playing in the grass or standing at the screen door watching the yellow school bus carry my siblings off. But as far as the important memories a person should retain, like Christmas morning or learning to ride a bike, I don’t really have those. One of the memories that I truly wish I had retained is when my little sister was brought home from the hospital; her being a baby and me being an adoring four-year-old.

Sparkelynn is my only baby sister, my only kid sister and the only sibling I have that my soul yearns to take care of. I might not remember her being brought home as a baby to ooh and ah over but I do remember so many of the years since. The big sister in me is a constant for Sparkel. She is the one person that I feel like wants to hear my advice, almost needs it. I guess that is why God gave me a little sister.

When our older sisters were off being naughty, when I was oh maybe 9 or 10, our last years living in a little white house in Forestville, Sparkel and I were almost always together. She might not remember it, but that I do. I remember when her innocent five-year-old hands loved a baby chic so much that it died. I teased her for years. One summer there were so many ants on the front walk that I laid down on them and she laid on top of me so the ants couldn’t get her. Our older sisters said it was weird but we were just trying to mimic their sunbathing. And I was trying to protect my little sister.

As we got a little older and our mother remarried, Sparkel was always his favorite. Because she was so young when my mother married our Papa Barry, they became like real daughter and father. I remember being jealous for the first few years when we lived with Barry in the big red house across the street. I was at an awkward age, a little chunky and nearing adolescence. I heard the name Piggy Pasha for the first time, a set off to most of my teen and adult insecurity. Sparkel was still so cute and oh so young. I envied how she seemed to do no wrong. But still, it was usually just the two of us being together in that red house, swimming in the pond or eating elderberries down the path in back. As everyone planned to see their boyfriends and run away from home, we were just the little kids.

Sparkelynn’s childhood was so different from my own. Our mother decided to home school her at a time when I did not live at home. Sparkel stayed back when the other three of us still living at home fled. Our baby sister was left behind. I know she must have felt that way. In the year or so that I did not live on Cable Road, Sparkel learned more about real life than school could ever teach me. She learned to be a loner, a gardener, a bible bumper and an abandoned adolescent. When I moved back in I remember being punished by only being allowed to have a room in the basement. Sparkel had since graduated to the coveted loft bedroom.

The next four years before I would venture off on my own was distant for me and my baby sister. Sparkel was still working the role as good girl and I was a heathen. When I left home at 17 Sparkel was still just 13-years-old. Part of me wishes I could travel back and talk to those young women. I wish I could tell them to stick together, to be strong in one another. But we were just kids, we really didn’t know how important we were to each other. If I could have a do over I would guide her through the teen years, be a real sister to her. However, as a newly minted college student, I was only wrapped up in me.

I moved to Boston when I was 21. I had done the college thing, the sorority thing, the waking up in a hospital cause I was so drunk thing. Sparkel had done so much of her own growing up in those five years, too. She had learned what it was like out there, outside of our mother’s nest. She had spent her own drunken nights in the hospital, had waged her own wars against demons. So after I had been living in Boston for a few months I went home for a visit. And I convinced her to move to the big city with me.

It was really the first time since we were very young that I took her under my wing. She slept next to me on the top floor of the flat that we shared with six other people. Sparkel surprised me as an adult. She went to work at JP Licks, made her own friends, found her own life there. Sure, I was still selfish then, thinking of myself more than her. In those months that we lived there we planted a garden together on the side of the house. It was the best garden that I have ever had. We took trips to the cape and went missing in action more than once. We were so young and both so stupid. It was one of the times in my life that I will never lose or forget. It was the first time in a long time that I got to be a big sister. And I think she hated (and probably still does) me calling her my kid sister.

When we parted and I moved to New York and she back to Buffalo, I stopped paying attention. It was a different time in both of our lives; it was a time for our family when drugs and alcohol were so accepted that they were exchanged during holidays and graduation. They were dark years where many of us gave into the fight of trying to be clean members of society and instead let ourselves be lushes and near junkies. Not one of us are proud of those days but they made us the women we are now.

Our family’s war with substances was initially waged my mom, the all-time pioneer in our world. When she got clean, and stayed clean (for almost five years, now:) we all took a look at ourselves. For Sparkel it was a harder look. Her journey brought her down dark allies that I never ventured. In the first year that I lived in Atlanta I nearly forced her to move there with me. When she did I did not understand what being clean and sober meant and neither did she. We hit our own rocks and stumbled and fell. But before she left, before she moved on, I got to spend more days being an older sister. We laid at the pool and talked about life, we worked together on a high-rise project, she made me understand tough love. I cried a lot, I usually do. But I never regretted her being there, only cherished the moments.

Since then Sparkel has been clean and sober for almost two years, has had two brilliantly beautiful children and is getting married to the love of her life. Last month I invited my kid sister back into yet another one of my homes, this time with her family. The years had changed us both so much, and though we never stopped being close and I remained someone she could lean on, this time was so different.

Sparkel and Company swooped in and gave me the biggest blessings since we bought this house in November. Her to-be husband did so much more than any contractor would have, wiring the house, fixing plumbing, buildingwalls and installing cabinets and tile. And she endlessly cleaned and cooked (in a sole little skillet), never complained or tired. We talked so much about breaking cycles and how blessed our family is to be in the light. I reached to Sparkel for advice, not as a baby sister, but as an adult woman and best friend that I completely trust and respect. Sparkel replanted my dying palm and let me snuggle with her babies. She brought a baby and a toddler to my home. My eyes grew a deeper sense for how wonderful of a father my husband will make. Each time I laid Pepper in his arms or he played with Oz I saw my own family through hers.

We taught each other more in those two weeks than in the past two years. I am not sure that I could ever be more proud of a woman and a mother, a person who has truly come so far from where she has been. And while she was here, I tried to feed her all the best big sister advice that I had. I gave her clothes and dressed her like a doll, cause that’s what big sissies do. I thanked God each morning that I heard pepper coohing and I knew for sure, this is why God made me a big sister.