Monday, March 27, 2006
Sisters, Part 1: Alyssa
Alyssa, Gloria, and Rebeca at Gloria's Wedding
Alyssa is a wonderful sister, friend, wife, and mom to her three kids. I've been blessed to be her baby sister all my life, and I think, for the most part, it's been a good thing for both of us. Our relationship started when our Dad snuck her and my brother into the hospital to see me. I was tiny and she said I squeaked like a mouse. I know she loved me, but I was also the bratty kid sister who was very annoying at times. For the record, we have a cassette tape of her making some radio show when I was just a few years old. I came into the room and she told me she was making a surprise for me so I had to leave. After my departure she admitted to her audience that it was merely a ploy to get rid of me. Such cunning! I think she's always been a bit jealous that I'm the favorite daughter and taken it out on me.
When we were kids we used to fight over whose name the roosters were crowing: listen closely and you will hear "Re-Re-Becaaaa!" She just insisted, though, that they were saying "Aaaaa-Ly-Saaaaaa!" Only as an adult did she finally admit that they were really saying my name all along. I guess she couldn't deceive herself any longer. We used to lay in our bunk beds at night and after it had been quiet for a while one of us would bark. Yes, like a dog. Then, we would adamently deny it and insist it was our dog outside. Since I was the more obnoxious of the two I probably carried the barking on way longer than she did, but she humored me none-the-less.
Being five years older than I am I always looked up to her as pretty accomplished and very cool. She took guitar lessons and had a really groovy quilted bag to carry her guitar in. She had such an elegant flower-power name: Alyssa Mintflower. I was stuck with Rebeca Kathryn. She could make her naturally curly hair so big in the eighties and she got to spend the summer working away from home at a camp where I could only dream of going someday. On her sixteenth birthday my Mom made her spaghetti and cheesecake. Her friends came over and they got to eat all by themselves by candlelight. All the younger siblings were banished to our rooms and I was so jealous.
The first time I remember seeing my Dad cry was when some boy came and drove off to take her to town. She had him in a real emotional crisis when she up and got herself married when she was only 19, paving the way for her sisters who came after her. All the men in the wedding had mullets and someone sang a love song that was originally done by Stryper. It was very, very cool. My Dad, though, was so traumatized by giving his eldest daughter away that my brother and I didn't dare get married for a full 11 years after that. (Just to be fair, Alyssa married with my parents' blessing and it had nothing to do with my brother and I waiting so long.) Daddy has now given all three of his daughters in marriage and I must say that he only held up slightly better the third time around at my younger sister's recent wedding.
I have always loved and admired Alyssa, and not just because of her big hair. She used to write me the best letters when I was off doing mission work. She had a set of dolphin stamps which, as a teenager I had turned my nose up at thinking they were too dorky for me. She used to stamp them all over the page and then write the most hilarious captions coming out of their mouths. When I went to Mexico on an outreach she gave me well-seasoned advice, like learn to say no in Spanish, never drink Sangria, and don't swim in the ocean in Mazatlan. (Her husband almost drowned there.) On top of the funny and encouraging letters I know she prayed often for me, and still does.
I think she's such a good mom and I really admire the relationships she has with her kids. She's always homeschooled them and I'm able to learn a lot from the things she's done. When I'm frustrated with Peregrine she's always so encouraging; she had toddlers not so long ago and has come through with most of her sanity intact. More important than sanity, she still has a great sense of humor and a lot of wisdom to share. She is loyal and honest and caring and a lot of fun. I 'm incredibly blessed to have her as my sister and my friend.