Today my youngest sister Annette turned twenty-one. Perusing through the contact list on my phone, the name Annette and any other variations of it will not be found because I have her name listed in my phone as “Wally.” As a child, whenever she would pose for pictures, she would stand with both heels touching and her toes pointed out forming a triangle. I noticed walruses stood the same way and I began to call her a walrus and soon the name Wally stuck. I even bought her a beanie baby walrus named Paul. Today at midnight I called her to wish her a happy birthday and after I was done singing she mentioned being surprised that I had sang the birthday song and called her “Annie” instead of walrus. I told her it was a new year and I wanted to begin it with her real name.
I remember going to the hospital the day she was born, a few months after I started high school. I still have very vivid memories of being in my uniform and holding the tiny infant in my arms as I sat on the edge of the hospital bed. Over the years, I would always take a lot of pleasure in taking care of her and just doing my best to be a good big sister. As Annette grew I enjoyed going to her schools, both elementary and middle just to have lunch and attending her orchestra recitals and plays in both middle and high school. We would make trips to museums, a ton of events in the city of Atlanta and to the movies. It was with Annette I saw Hotel Rwanda, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Ratatouille and a ton of other movies.
Shortly before I went to graduate school, while I was studying for the GRE I took her to a restaurant and she experienced her first big girl moment of ordering from a menu. She ordered fettuccine alfredo and a Sprite. I was hoping she would order a glass of water. Did she know how dry my bank account was? When I lived in Denver, shortly before I moved back home to Atlanta, we spent about a week touring the city and just having a plain good time. I remember at the time I asked what she like the most about Denver and she replied that she enjoyed eating out everyday and not having to worry about doing dishes.
While I lived in Denver I spent hours on the phone going over homework and countless others editing papers. Not that she really needed my help, because she is a great writer herself and currently works at the writing center at her school in addition to writing for the school newspaper. Then it came time to go to college and the college essay writing and review process began. As I reviewed essays I was shocked when she sent an essay my way to review, and the essay was about the impact I had on her life. It was humbling, but beyond that it gave me a feeling I will never forget. She did go on to attend my alma mater, Emory University where she is excelling beyond measure, but not before she won the Bill Gates Millennium scholarship and the Atlanta Journal Constitution Award for being the best all round student at her high school. I remember taking her on a tour of the campus after she got accepted and introducing her to my career counselor who is still a good friend and has become her friend as well.
My sister Annette is kind and wise beyond her years. She is very intelligent, bright, diligent, super hard working and focused. Importantly, she has a growing and steadfast relationship with God, which I believe is the best part about her. Even though I am eleven years older, I look up to her in many ways and go to her for advice about really important life issues. We talk about everything and no topic it seems is off limits. She has given me some really great advice in some trying times in my life, has steadily encouraged me and has listened to me pour out my heart over just like a good sister friend would.
When I read our text messaging log, I can’t help but smile. We pretend to be rappers some days, have long drawn out philosophical debates on others and whom else would I share a picture of the lady with three boobs if not her. Sometimes, all it takes is an emoticon to communicate how we feel. If I took the time to list all the memories we’ve had, I’d be writing all day. We have had so many amazing adventures together. Last year as I studied for the bar exam, we toured Dallas, making stops at the Bush Presidential Museum, Sixth Floor Museum, the stock yards in Fort Worth, mall hoping and amusing ourselves trying on engagement rings worth almost half a million at Harry Winston.
Just last week, I got this text message from her that read, “Missing you and wondering if we’ll ever be living in the same city again.” I replied “Awww Annie! I miss! you too. I wonder if that will happen again. God knows all. Miss and love you!” She replied, “Love ya.” I still carry notes she would write to me as a child and one of my dearest possessions that I take everywhere is a hand written card she made for me when she was probably about seven. You have friends and then you have friends and if you are lucky, you have a sister like I do who is your friend. I can’t wait for all the great things I know she will go on to accomplish because I know for a fact that she will. It’s my celebration too as I recall sweet memories with great fondness of a little walrus who was born on September 22.
Happy Birthday to you Walrus!