My Kid Sister, Katina
My sister just turned the BIG 50 (although I must admit she is extremely well preserved for a woman of her advanced years). I thought I would reprint this post I wrote about her. HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATINAKI.
When I was six years old my parents brought home a little baby girl and introduced me to my new sister. Talk about a shock; sure my parents had hinted at how nice it would be to have a sister and I couldn't help but notice Mama was putting on some weight, but who knew that my folks would have the temerity to upset our happy home by introducing a stranger into our midst. Let's just say I was less than thrilled.
Things were just fine until my kid sister showed up. Her name was Katina and she spent her whole day carrying on four exclusive activities: crying, eating, pooping and sleeping. Born in the USA, she was the first Amerikanaki in our family of immigrants. Mama let me hold her sometimes, that was OK, but this little bundle of joy wasn't exactly much of a playmate. I had no idea what was in store for me. When you are an older brother, kid sister's become a major burden. There is no up side. After all, its like you are a third parent. Growing up, my kid sister was wrapped around my neck like an albatross. If we went out to play my mother would tell me to keep my eyes "glued" on her. If she had to cross the street, guess who had to hold her hand? If someone was picking on her, guess who was supposed to ride to the rescue? Then there was the problem of her borrowing my stuff. Once she ended up riding my bike and it came back in two pieces twisted into the shape of a pretzel. When I was in Junior High School, I had to drop my sister off at her school a few blocks away, before any of my friends noticed me. To make matters worse, she insisted on clutching my hand. Geez. As hard as I would try to ignore my sister, she returned my disdain with genuine love and affection.
Today my little pigtailed kid sister has a family of her own and is a successful business woman. She is confident, articulate and above all excels at everything she does. I like to think that I had a hand in her development. I was the one that taught her to be brave. You have to be when your brother makes scary sounds while you are sleeping in your bedroom at night. I taught her about being a good loser. You have to be when you brother cheats at all the board games you play together. I taught her to be independent. You have to be when your brother is off playing with his friends and you have to fend for yourself. I taught her to stick up for herself. You have to when you have a pushy older brother. Above all, I taught my sister how to deal with the problematic yet indispensable male species: look 'em in the eye, don't back down, consider yourself their equal in all things and above all, use your superior verbal and intellectual skills to run circles around them.
I don't really think I began really appreciating my sister until I got older. She was popular, a social butterfly, a talented gymnast, and smart to boot. She had a knack with people that I envied. I was an introvert and she was the exact opposite, a confirmed extrovert, who had blossomed into a beautiful woman. Our relationship improved greatly when we got older. Distance does make the heart grow fonder. When I came back from my first overseas tour in the Marines, she was a college freshman. Like all young women her age she thought she wasn't as attractive as this or that movie actress. Annoyed I told her she was a lot better looking than all of them put together. Years later she confided how much that meant to her. Who knew? Then again, I always had a hard time deciphering women, including my sister.
My sister initially taught at a Greek parochial school for a number of years but eventually gravitated toward politics. She ended up as a troubleshooter on the mayor's staff in a large metropolitan city. With her gifted people skills she was a natural and was soon dealing with one community relations crisis after another. When her children grew up, and having celebrated twenty-five years of marriage to the same wonderful guy, Katina decided she wanted to be her own boss for a change and being the risk taker she is, struck out on her own to create a successful business from scratch.
The most influential person in my sister's life was our mother. Katina inherited Mama's shrewdness and ability to read people. More importantly, she learned the most significant lesson Mama ever taught her. That lesson was to put your family first and foremost, in all your calculations. My sister has been a devoted, loving wife, mother, daughter, and sister. That devotion and love has been an example to us all and returned in kind. Bravo, Katinaki.