When he could barely talk my brother started asking for a little sister. Born in 1943, it was hard to explain how with Dad in England it wasn’t going to happen.
In 1951, I appeared. His little sister. Unexpected, a miracle. No more kids possible they’d been told. At 8 he started taking me everywhere, first by carriage, then proudly running beside him. My rock. Very introverted he never dated, no senior prom, even when Mom asked how’d he’d feel if no one asked me in the future. I’ll take her he said. My date backed out. He made plans to take time off work, fly home, get a tux & take me. Someone found me a mercy date. But, what he was going to do meant so much. I knew how hard it would have been. Many years later he had several strokes, we found him a place in a very good assisted living memory facility. He was happy, they let him be if that was what he wanted, participate if he wanted.
The last time we saw him, in his room, close up, I asked him a very important question. I’d heard the ‘baby sister’ story all my life, I needed to know. I asked him if I was what he wanted, had I been good enough. He smiled his slow smile & said, even better than he’d imagined. I don’t know why I asked that day. The pandemic came, facility locked down, too deaf for the phone. We only saw him twice more, outside, over 6 feet apart. They had not one case of Covid, till he got sick. He died in Hospice January 15, 2021. The last person, but me, to know this story first hand. I have a loving husband, but, it’s not the same. All the little memories we had, about whistles, about a plastic shrunken head on the family Christmas tree, putting a hand flat on my head then hit it with the other hand, me yelling ‘TOBIE!’ I’m alone now, in a way I never have been before. Feeling without purpose. What is a much wanted baby sister good for without an older brother?