I entered the world on March 25, 19– What? Did you really think I’d tell you the year? 🙂 Four people were eagerly awaiting my arrival. They were my mother (of course), my dad, my brother (waiting rather calmly) and my sister (not waiting calmly at all). Melanie, my sister, had been praying for a sister. She was ecstatic to here that my Mom was expecting. For about 7-8 long months she had waited to see if the new baby on the way would be her answer to prayer, or whether it would be a boy.(I’m sure she would have loved a brother almost as much as a sister…heehee!) She had wanted me to be named Amy Elizabeth, like the girl in the original Clifford books. Instead, I came home as Valerie Ellen. She didn’t understand why, but then, she didn’t sign the birth certificate so she had to be happy with having a Valerie instead of an Amy.
Melanie was dee-lighted to have me in her world. She catered to my every need. She picked me up the minute I cried, every time I cried. My parents finally said “You are spoiling her. A little crying won’t hurt her.” So, she started letting me cry five minutes before picking me up. She loved to kiss me. And hug me. We had tea parties using my play dishes. She would make tuna salad sandwiches and pork ‘n’ beans and we would eat on my play dishes! (After she washed them, of course.) We also had milk in our tea cups. She would let me play with her dolls. She would read me books. And she babysat me a lot. I remember enjoying many a chicken pot pie with Melanie for lunch while we watched The Partridge Family on TV.
We were together on our first day at a new school. We stood outside on a chilly winter day, practically glued to each other. We saw my Dad drive away, leaving us there alone. We had to get there very early since Dad had to be at work in Little Rock – that meant 30 more minutes of driving. Finally, kids started arriving at school. We stayed together till we had to be separated at class time. As soon as lunch time came, I was at her elbow once more. Then, as soon as school was out in the afternoon, I was drawn to her like a magnet to metal. She did not roll her eyes at me, she did not shoo me away. She let me be there; she looked out for me.
As if that wasn’t enough, Melanie did more. She loved sewing, especially for others. She made me several pillows. My favorites were a trio of dolls. She made me Strawberry Shortcake, Blueberry Muffin and Raspberry Tart. Two years ago, my mom found the dolls in storage at her house and she returned them to me. About three weeks ago, all of my childhood sisterly memories flooded my mind when my youngest girl came to me, holding my old Blueberry Muffin doll and said “Mom, can you fix her? Her head is all bendy.” I added some stuffing to her neck and stitched up some holes by hand till she was almost as good as new.
It got me to thinking…could I repay some of the hard labor that my sister had put into sewing for me by sewing something for her? I’ve never been a seamstress – that was Melanie’s talent, not mine. But, I had learned to sew a few simple things. Maybe I could do something for her! I found an apron kit and decided that would be a simple thing to make that she could use. Well, it turns out I bought no ordinary apron. It had several things that I had never done before! I was ready to forget the whole thing more than once while working on it. I wanted so badly to make something for her, like she had done for me over the years, that I forged ahead. I also needed her advice while making the apron, but again, I didn’t want to spoil the surprise. I knew she would overlook my errors – she has been doing that with me for years.
I finally finished up the apron and even got it wrapped and given to my Mom to take to Melanie when she visited her for Christmas. Giving this to her was more exciting than receiving gifts myself.
Since becoming an adult, my relationship with my sister has grown deeper and stronger. I know she prays for me, and I pray for her. She is truly one of my best friends.
There is only one problem with the apron that I really wish I could fix. I wish I could give it to her in person, with a hug and personal words of thanks and love.
Merry Christmas, Melanie, from across the miles. I love you so much.