Memories of my sister

As children my sister and I used to fight all the time. Also as children, we quickly forgot what we were fighting about and then we’d be the best of friends.

As adults we learned that there’s not much in life important enough to fight about – especially since we knew that we didn’t have a lot of time.

Our mother’s side of the family is afflicted with an extremely rare genetic disorder, drpla, that slowly but surely debilitates the mind and body. Of my mother’s four children I am the only one who is free of the disease.

I lost my little sister just before Christmas – only months after our father died. I miss them both so much.

Today is Rhonda’s birthday. She would have been 46. Happy birthday, Rhonda. I love you.

Below is my tribute to my sister, which Rhonda’s children presented at her funeral. I could not do it myself.

My little sister

It’s hard to sum up a lifetime on a piece of paper, so I made a list of the highlights.

• Rhonda was the most beautiful baby in the world. She had the prettiest eyes and smile.

• Rhonda had the best hair ever. We all had straight hair. She was the only one who had curly hair. I envied her hair, especially in the ’80s, when big hair was all the rage.

• I also envied her smooth, dark skin. She was like an exotic princess to me.

• When Rhonda was not quite 2, she thought she was Superman. She once tried to fly out the window. That didn’t work. She ended up with a concussion. I ended up in trouble because I wasn’t watching her.

• Rhonda always got into things. Rhonda always got away with things. And Rhonda always got me in trouble. But she had such a sweet smile and big, sad eyes, I could never stay mad at her for long.

• Rhonda used to get leg cramps almost every night, and the only thing that would make them go away was to let her sleep with me. To this day, I don’t know if the leg cramps were real or she just needed to be close to her big sister.

• Rhonda was great at ironing. And she was an expert with the starch.

• Rhonda loved to borrow my clothes – and shoes. To this day, I don’t know how she fit her big feet in my tiny size 6 shoes.

• Rhonda was a feisty teenager with a mind of her own. She would tell people off in a heartbeat if she disagreed with them. I envied her courage. I was shy and could never stand up for myself.

• She got into fights. She ran away from home. She dropped out of school. She did all the things a mother never wants to see her child do. I worried a lot about my little sister in those days.

• Like most of us, though, she found her way into adulthood, and while her life was never easy, she made the most of it. She did the best she could, and I was proud of her.

• Rhonda’s wayward ways were brought to an end by three shining stars: Richard, Skye and Tamika. Her life changed the minute Richard came into her life. And it grew and got richer from there.

• Rhonda loved being a mother. It was the only thing that mattered to her. She was so happy to be a mother. And I was happy that she had found her happiness in life.

Although she will be missed by all who knew her, Rhonda will live on in our hearts and memories – and in her beautiful children.

I love you, Rhonda, from your big sister, Lici.

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