The Sister I Didn’t Know I Needed

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I wasn’t thrilled when my sister, Adrienne, was born, but today I can’t imagine my life without her. April 10 is National Siblings Day, but my “Age” is someone I’m grateful for every day of my life — even if I wasn’t thrilled with her in the beginning.

Adrienne — or Age, as I’ve called her since I could never quite say her name as a kid — was born when I was just 3 years old. I had grown accustomed to having my parents all to myself, and suddenly, I had to share all the attention with a little baby! My initial assumptions of her were only proven right when we were a little older and she would beg to follow me around everywhere. I would lament how she couldn’t keep up, and she would promise that she could keep up.

She never did, of course, and it made me want to pull my hair out!

It’s funny to look back on those moments, where we were like any other sibling duo, and think about how far we have come. One of the biggest tests and turning points in our relationship was when I became pregnant in high school. At a young age, Age was tasked with balancing her love for me and coming to terms with her older sister’s poor choices. I guess like any person who is disappointed in someone they love and trust, she was frustrated and confused about how my life was changing. Ultimately, she handled that time in our lives with maturity beyond her years, and this is the first of many instances when Age displayed her old soul wisdom.

We look related, but her mannerisms and deeply reflective nature often cause others to assume that she’s the older sibling! My dad even nicknamed her Swami because of how contemplative, calm, and steady she can be.

My sister lived with my daughter and me for Age’s first few years of college in Wyoming.  It was wonderful, but then she transferred to Hampshire College in Massachusetts. A year or so later when I was ready for a new professional experience, I purposely looked for a job near her. As the fates would have it, I secured a position at Smith College and we all three lived together again. These periods of our lives where we have lived together have brought us closer still.

I’ll forever be grateful for Age’s willingness to help me as a single parent during the years when I worked in college admission. It was a job I would have never been able to hold as a single parent, but I could always rely on Age to step in when I couldn’t. She became a maternal figure to my daughter, and as a result, that has created a unique bond between them.

 Age and I still find time in our busy schedules to talk at least once each week, and if we’re having a tough time, we make sure to talk more. She’s my closest confidant: She can always gracefully tell me I’m wrong and is still that calm, peaceful force in my life.

Age may not have been the sister I wanted when I was 3 years old, but she became the sister I needed as I grew up, became a mom, and found my way through life. I’m not sure where I would be today without her support, but I feel incredibly lucky to have it.

Thank you, Age.

—Geneva Perry


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