… my sister will be sixty-one, and hopefully we’ll still have several years of brisk walks and rambling conversations before us.
Walking with my sister is something of a challenge. While being approximately 10 centimetres shorter, she has an impressive stride – and pace. Being the eldest, no way do I intend to let on when she runs me ragged, instead I revert to encouraging her to talk while I interject the odd exclamation here and there. Unfortunately, doing the talking doesn’t hamper her much, and now and then she’ll turn her wide green eyes (oh yes, my sister has gorgeous green eyes and the longest, thickest lashes imaginable. It’s lucky I love her, otherwise I’d hate her) my way and smile.
“Am I walking too fast?”
“No.” (I pretend to cough, which allows me to slow down for an instant or two, madly sucking in air.)
“You sure?” she says and when I shake my head ups the pace. She does it on purpose of course, this is a little power game between the two of us. My part of the power game is that I get to choose the route, and so I generally do more turns to the left than to the right as this means she gets the outer curve. Hah! that gives me a metre or two at times.
She’s quite competitive my sister, which is somewhat onerous for someone who like me wants to win. It used to be I always won – back in the days when I was seven and she was four. And then there was that terrible, terrible event when she was five and I was eight and she beat me on 50 metres breaststroke. Since then I haven’t raced her once in the swimming pool, because either she has webbed feet or is related to the mermaids what with how fast she ploughs through the water. I do, however, now and then challenge her in the sea or in a lake. This is because my dear sister is afraid of fish, and should I need to I can sort of call out “look, a perch” and she’ll totally lose rhythm while trying to locate this dangerous creature. Meanwhile, I complete the round and win 🙂
Sometimes we have competitions in the best dive. (We never agree on who wins. She argues the time spent under the water should count, which would make her the self-evident winner. Obviously, I argue the aesthetics instead.) At times we dance polka or do our disco routine which tends to make our children look at us and groan. Now and then we’ve been to exercise classes together, but that very quickly developed into a deadly competition. (Body Pump: “Aha, she’s loading 12K on each side for the squats. I’ll do 15” Aerobics: “If she can do fifty pushups so can I” – except that I can’t) Come Christmas we sing carols while baking (once again the children sort of groan), and now and then we’ll sneak off to go wild and crazy in a pastry shop – we loove pastry.
There is very little about me my sister doesn’t know – and what I haven’t told her she generally guesses. She knows exactly when I need a compliment, but she can also be ruthlessly honest.
“Oh for God’s sake, Anna! You can’t have a living room the colour of a womb!”
Huh. I thought it was a nice, warm orange. Anyway, that comment had me (okay, okay, my husband) rushing off to buy new paint, and four hours later the room was a sophisticated cream.
“Much better,” said my sister, “but you really have to do something about the skirting boards.” Agh!
I consider myself lucky to have my sister. I am looking forward to having geriatric walking competitions with our zimmer frames, and yes, I will continue to screech “fish, fish” if it leads to me winning the swimming competition. I will always trust her with my secrets – well, not my chocolate cake recipe, but other secrets yes – and I’m counting on her telling me when I have overdone the colour combinations, or the ruffles, or the Doc Marten’s, or the scarves. I in turn will make sure she doesn’t spend the entire weekend in hoodies and jeans, that she lets up a bit on the cleaning, and that somewhere along the line she learns to stroll. You know, a leisurely walk at a leisurely pace while admiring the view or feeding the ducks.
“When we’re ninety,” she’ll say. “That’s when we do the strolling.”
I’m fine with that – but I have to come up with new stalling devices during our walks. The coughing routine is old, I can’t pretend to have a stitch, and never, ever will I tell her to slow down. Not me. I’m the eldest, remember?
Fia hjärtat, this is to you. Just so you know, I will still need you when I’m sixty-four. And yes, there are a lot of fish in the lake outside our house, but of course I’ll scare them all away before you get in. Or not, he-he.