First off, let me just say that my sister’s first and middle names do not rhyme, even though my parents (no offense, Mom and Dad) didn’t use great judgment on the spelling of Rana. It’s pronounced like Renee. So just picture that. 🙂
Now, my older sister, Tana, is no ordinary woman. She’s a super woman! We didn’t really get along so well when we were growing up. Of course, we loved each other, as sisters do, but we also fought a lot, as sisters do. But when I hit 9th grade and she hit 12th grade, something shifted. After that, we’ve rarely fought. She’s been my best friend (other than Jim after we met) since then. Though as we’ve grown wiser (now at the ripe old ages of 31 and 28), and our views on life have not shifted, and changed from those we were taught growing up (and we’ve kind of gone opposite directions on some things), my older sister has remained one of my best friends.
Tana and I are full-blood siblings. We’re each other’s only full-blood sibling. We are the products of our mother and father’s short-lived high-school sweetheart romance and marriage. Mom and Dad divorced when we were young. Tana was old enough to understand a little of what was going on. I was only two when they separated, so them being apart is really all I know. But Tana and I stuck together through it all, and she helped me through my childhood and adolescence as no one else could have. She went to college at Oklahoma State University (boo Cowboys! go Sooners!), which was about an hour and a half from home. And on the weekends that she came home she spent most of her time with her boyfriend (now husband), so I didn’t see her as much as I would have liked to. But our friendship remained. And over the years, despite great distances between us (since I’ve moved a lot), we’ve gotten only closer.
Now Tana is a stay-at-home mom of two of the most beautiful children in the world. She has been married to her high school sweetheart, Matt, for more than 10 years. Their son is five and their daughter is two, and I love those kids so very much. Tana finished her Master’s degree when she was pregnant with their son, but gave up her teaching career to stay home with the kids. Being a teacher has helped her be a great mom. She’s a great teacher to her kids, and now that her son is in school, she helps him with his learning.
Even though our political views differ somewhat, and our religious views (even though we’re both Christians) differ somewhat, we get along very well. She’s never made me feel badly about myself even though I’m at least an inch shorter than her but at least 5-6 pant-sizes bigger. When we were in Japan and I was greatly missing Mexican food, she pulled together a collection of recipes from her friends and family to send us Mexican food recipes I could make for us to ease our cravings. She’s never questioned what I wanted to do with my education or life, and she’s supported my relationship with Jim, my decisions about where to live, my choices about life in general and my plans concerning parenting. She shared so much of her daughter’s things with us the first time I was pregnant, and didn’t ask for anything back when we packed it all up. She made me countless baby items (she’s a seamstress – www.tanascreations.com). After our Angel died, Tana mourned her niece’s death with grace, and helped our parents and younger siblings with their mourning. She’s been a constant source of strength for me, and someone I can talk to frankly about everything that’s happened. While I know she’s shed a great many tears for our loss, she’s never taken the loss onto herself or tried to make it about herself, only tried to help us as much as possible. She was overjoyed when we told her we were moving back here to our hometown (where she and her husband have been settled for a while). She helped my mom screen houses when we were shopping online for a home from 8,000 miles away. She helped me pick fabric and made beautiful curtains and throw pillows for our new home. She was beyond excited when I told her I was pregnant again. She accepted with great grace the possible burden when I asked if she and Matt would care for our children should something happen to both Jim and me in the future. She is excited when we come to her house, and loves that we love her children. She is already looking forward to when Jim and I have date nights and she’ll get to sit for Baby Eddy. She has been super encouraging about all of our choices concerning my pregnancy and delivery options, and when I was choosing a doctor here she gave me input without being discouraging. We’ve bonded over our love for running, and she was one of my biggest supporters when I signed up for Tokyo Marathon.
Overall, I would say that Tana has been my biggest female source of inspiration for my life. She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s pretty, she takes care of herself. She loves me and our parents and our siblings. She thinks my husband’s great and never forgets his birthday or our anniversary. I heard someone say once that when you first meet her, Tana seems like she may be fake, just because she’s so nice. But once you get to know her, you realize that she’s actually that nice! When I first heard that statement I was thinking that’s not such a good thing. But I could see that. I suppose many people aren’t accustomed to someone that’s so very nice. I guess I’m used to it. 🙂 She’s real and sincere and friendly and accepting and loving. She’s great. I can’t say enough about how wonderful my older sister is.