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We Interrupt This Salsa Recipe for a Moment of Sibling Solidarity

March 14, 2011

I’m trying to write up a salsa recipe in a way that is not so boring as to make you keel headlong, snoring, apathetic about whether you eat salsa ever again, and liable to knock out your teeth.

I’m finding this task to be challenging and I need to take a lot of breaks.

During the breaks I’m trying to find some new dishtowels, and I am looking around the website called at all of the hyperspecial handmade dishtowels and feeling somewhat awful at the memory of a hyperspecial bunny dishtowel with a tail that my sister bought for me for Christmas several years ago. I have a lot of great friends and family, and I have a lot of great things. I am grateful. But I’m fighting the admittedly ridiculous feeling that no one will ever buy me the perfect bunny-shaped dish towel with a tail, or its sequel, ever again.

I know you shouldn’t miss people who have died because of the, uh, presents that you are missing out on getting, but I do. And Beth would be pleased that I was missing the perfect presents she cultivated, and see that it was a lovely part of a whole of the relationship.

There was a flip side to the gifts thing. She shopped constantly, spent too much money, had a hard time organizing the gifts, and they didn’t always even make it to their intended recipients. When she lost the power to shop and direct others, we toned down holidays quite a bit. I was just as happy for Henry to receive gifts his cousins had used or not used. And for myself, I don’t need a whole lot anymore.

For my birthday that occurred a year before she died, Beth was upset that she hadn’t gotten me a gift. I think I didn’t see her on my birthday proper, but visited in the weeks after. She indicated that she needed to get me a gift. I didn’t want her to feel bad, but I did actually have an idea.

I knew it would be one of the last gifts I’d get from her. I’d resorted to jewelry sometimes when buying gifts for her, because cocoa mugs, cooking utensils, even magazines, these had all gone by the wayside because there was so little she could do. And I’ve always had an idea about getting the perfect piece of everyday jewelry that someone would wear always to think of you: a plain silver ring, or something that wouldn’t go out of style. I aspired to elemental, always-with-you gifts for her.

One of the gifts I’d recently bought Beth was a birthstone ring that was clustered the way ’round with stones of the people who loved her. Her parents, husband, and children. Having our birthstones too would have been rather bling-y, but I could tell that she loved the ring but it bothered her not to have ours, too.

When it was time for my gift, I wanted, from Beth, a perfect and everyday piece of jewelry to acknowledge our sisterhood, and I wanted her to get a twin piece of jewelry. I searched and searched for good “sister” jewelry; I love you, Internet.

There is a lot of hokey sister jewelry. I found the perfect piece from, of all places, J.C. Penney. For $14.99, there was a silver chain and silver pendant that was in the shape of two concentric rings. On the inside it said “A sister is a forever friend.” It had a good shape, an everyday but pretty look, an acceptable pricepoint, excellent sentiment, and the sort of childlike / foreigner-style syntax that made us laugh. I showed her on my laptop. And then I proceeded to order two of them, sitting on the other bed in her room, using my own credit card. I was strong arming her, going so far as to pay for it myself, but it was something I’d wanted her to have, too. I wouldn’t have been able to just buy it for her, considering what we both knew was happening. But this was perfect.

When they arrived after a few weeks, we both started to wear them. I almost never take mine off. When she was hospitalized or in a nursing home, they’d remove her jewelry, and sometimes I’d visit and she’d request that I get hers from home.

I’d sometimes have her wear mine for a few days, and sometimes she’d wear it on her wrist because arranging her to get it on her neck was too complicated. At the end, who knew if she wanted me to bother, but it gave me something to do, and it was a little bond out of a material that would be around for longer than we would be.

She was buried in hers. I took mine off last week for a party and realized getting ready for bed last night that it was still off. I’m going to go put it back on.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Karen permalink
    March 15, 2011 2:02 pm

    My mom’s school had Lance Armstrong-style live-strong bracelets made when it became clear that she was not going to be with us for long. There were HUNDREDS of them, and the kids sold them for $2, giving the money to the American Cancer Society. I didn’t see one until I went to Maine for the memorial service at the school where she was the vice principal. I got one then, and many more as part of her things that her husband gave to me.

    At the time it struck me as quite odd that they were purple. I asked one of the kids why they had chosen purple. “She told us it was her favorite color.”

    Hm, I thought. Purple was not her favorite color. It’s my favorite color.

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