|Fishing in Alaska|
And Then There Was One
I dropped my sister off at the airport today, and for the first time since my dad died, I felt alone. The Army of Two who marched into unfamiliar terrain and faced down unidentified foes is down to an army of one.
Over the past week, the strength of who we are as individuals and our bond as sisters was tested over and over again. Her clarity and humor provided a life raft for me on days when I felt as though I were walking on the bottom of the ocean.
She kept herself open to every detail and to every exchange of information as we processed through each day. We worked together and independently at the same time, putting our trust in each other ahead of everything else. Fueled by mutual respect, we skillfully navigated the very tricky landscape of who gets what. Thankfully, that was a small piece of a much bigger picture. We were a good team, and my dad would have been proud of us.
Why It Worked
1. We Like Each Other
We got along before my dad died, and we are simpatico sisters.
2. Just Two
I thought a lot about how lucky we were that there weren't more siblings to complicate matters. We were Batman and Batman, both working for the common good.
I can't think of a single moment when we weren't sharing every aspect of this weird experience. We shared information, thoughts, feelings, things, meals, and decisions.
Miraculously, we were able to balance our time so that we could take care of ourselves. We made time for her morning walks and my blogging. We packed lunches and ate outside on my dad's lovely garden patio. We watched our favorite shows on TV. We tried to get enough sleep.
My sister and I have the same habit of working past our limit. We are task oriented. It did not matter that we had to walk up and down a steep flight of stairs 25 times a day. If there were a closet or a drawer that hadn't been cleaned out, we were on it. When my dad's friend announced at 8 o'clock at night that he'd be over in 10 minutes to pick up a load of stuff, we went into overdrive making boxes and packing fragile glass knick-knacks. If I had to crawl around on my hands and knees to retrieve pots and pans from the far reaches of the kitchen cupboards, it got done. If it meant spending 2 hours in a filthy, greasy shed full of motorcycle parts looking for Christmas ornaments, Heidi did it.
6. Mutual Respect for My Dad
No one knew him better than we did, and he knew it. We shared the same sense of humor, and our basic principles were alike. Our lives were inextricably blended with his. We knew his secrets, and he pretty much knew that we were perfect daughters...LOL :) He would have liked that joke. We were equally at ease with him as we are with each other. The job ahead of us was clear, and there was never any disagreement over what he would have wanted.
7. Supportive Spouses & Kids
Our spouses rallied and called in every night to check on us. More importantly, they did not interfere. They listened patiently and did not try to tell us what to do. Thanks, Guys. And, our adult kids were kind enough to reach beyond their daily trevails and offer words of condolence. Thanks, Kids.
8. We Each Have A Backbone
We both understand the difference between being assertive and being aggressive. Neither one of us is afraid to be assertive when the situation calls for it.
Post-menopausal power, baby! I don't know where it comes from, but when women are no longer being ruled by their ovaries, the fog clears. The clarity and confidence of youth emerge once again, and rational thought returns. The carefree girls we once were evolve into women of substance, and insecurities seem to evaporate. Being over 50 provided a critical source of stability from which we drew strength and guidance every day.
10. We Have Enough Stuff
It was never about his stuff, although sorting through his belongings kind of forces the issue. Every person who knew my dad and genuinely cared about him backed away from his stuff. His friends refused to take any memento that we offered because he wasn't about that. A relationship with our dad was based on living life to the fullest and not on collecting things. My dad streamlined his life before he died so that the bulk of what he left behind was a rich collection of memories for his friends and family. His step-relatives were very interested in his stuff, and I imagine that's why he placed everything under the protection of a family trust. No will, no probate, no interfamily drama.
Way to go, Dad!