Monday, October 22, 2012

My sister, my friend

Happy birthday to my little sister, Nadine!

Nadine was born a few weeks after my second birthday, and it was love at first sight!
 (Okay, well, that might be a slight exaggeration...
word has it I was a bit ambivalent at first, as most older children are!)
As a small child, she was very serious and shy, unlike me!
We soon became playmates, as she got more interesting!
My favorite childhood photo of the two of us!
Nadine and I were best buddies, but we also fought hard. We would actually pull hair, hit, bite, and spit (she was the spitter!). I remember friends visiting and expressing the disbelief that we actually ever fought!

Being girls, we were incredibly close but we also got sucked into manipulative dramas with other friends. I remember getting together with family friends, the Morgans, who had three girls of similar ages. Nadine and I would each pair off with one sister and then we would have huge fights with the other pair. Another shared friend would try to snare our loyalty and pit us against the other one. We were so mean to each other, when we weren't playing music together, doing crafts or sewing, sharing books or clothes, going shopping, listening to music, or hanging out. 

We were very different, too. She spent a lot more time on curling her hair, I remember, than I did. When we would go to buy fabric together (our mom taught us how to sew), I would walk into the fabric shop and choose my fabric within 10 minutes. Nadine would pore over the bolts and--apparently--try to find a fabric that closely matched the photo on the pattern. I would be bored to tears, because I would always make my decision so much more quickly. I believe Nadine's patience and deliberation were two key factors in her ability to become a physician. I never would have had the patience for all that memorization and years of school and training. She knew exactly what she wanted, and she put in the time and hard work to get it. Just like in the fabric store! Now she is an exceptionally caring and conscientious doctor.
At our grandma's wedding with our cousins Becky and Kim (with Tim in the background)--
Nadine and I played the guitar and flute together,
 and we each made our dresses
We had a lot of silliness in our family growing up--
Here's us singing "King Jesus Is All" on a trip to the beach
I wish I had a photo of the time we dressed up as Elton John (me) and Kiki Dee (Nadine) and sang "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" in a performance for our parents. In between fun and games, though, we were pretty awful to each other as teenagers, as only teenage girls can be.

My graduation from high school (with our brother, Stephen)
Family outing to the Columbia Gorge
When I went off to college I finally realized how much I loved my sister. I wrote a song for her 16th birthday during my freshman year in college, and I remember crying as I was singing it to her at her party! Living apart made me realize how dear she was to me and how lucky I was to have her as a sister and best friend. (Of course, by then, we had grown up a lot and rarely fought any more!)

When she joined me at PLU a couple of years later (I was a junior her freshman year), I was so happy! I was the social chair of our dorm, Stuen, and looking back I'm horrified to remember what we put those incoming freshman students through (initiation!). I also remember Nadine's shock the first time she ever saw me drunk. Neither of us drank, smoked, or did drugs during high school, and I only started drinking alcohol during my sophomore year of college. She was very concerned about me!

Although Nadine was a biology major and I was an English major, one experience we did share was Spurs. (Nadine's sister-in-law, Judy, was also a Spur.) Sharing a dorm for a year was fun, and then I moved off campus with some friends. Nadine and I shared many of our college friends from Stuen, so we did a great deal of our college socializing together.
With our friends at a birthday brunch
for me in our off-campus house
Singing at church in China on Christmas Eve
We also both worked as a nanny for our cousins in Seattle when they were very small. Then the fall after I graduated from PLU, we both left for Asia within a few weeks--me to Japan to teach English, and Nadine to spend her junior year in China with a PLU program. I visited her in China for Christmas and New Year, and she came to visit me in Japan in February.
Party in Japan when Nadine visited
One of my favorite photos of that era--visiting Oregon from Japan one summer,
 in the Rose Garden--I'm wearing Nadine's sweatshirt
Fast forward a few years--I got married, and Nadine was my maid of honor...she went to med school in Wisconsin and then did her residency in Portland. We spent a lot of time together as couples, and Mike and David got along famously.
Before children
With Nadine at her medical school graduation--
we were all so proud!
Christopher was born in crisis. Then Nadine and David got married and I was her matron of honor and Mike and I sang at their wedding. As the years have passed, we have continued to share so much. She was so instrumental to us when Christopher was in the was incredibly helpful to have a doctor in the family to help translate what was going on, and she visited Christopher regularly on her own. She and David are Christopher's godparents. For five years, he was the only child in our extended family. Both Nadine and I endured many years of infertility, and we supported each other through each loss. Then finally Ryan came along (Nadine and David's firstborn). 

With Ryan as a baby
And then the babies kept coming! All boys. Six of them--three for her and three for me! After sharing the infertility, then we began sharing childbirth. Nadine was there for the births of Kieran and Nicholas, and I was there when Daniel and Garrett were born. I will never forget that moment...such a gift to share those moments.
With Kieran and Ryan
With twin nephews

Twins' baptism

The last baby! (Nicholas' birth day)
With the new little cousin/brother
With the six puppies (as it often feels like!)
Now that we have all these puppies, we don't get to see each other nearly often enough! I hope that someday we can live closer together or find a way to spend more time together. Not a day passes when I don't realize how fortunate I am to have Nadine as my sister and one of my dearest, most beloved friends!
Vacationing together in Vancouver BC in 2010

And in 2011 at the beach
Celebrating our October birthdays earlier this month
Today has got to be a very bittersweet day for Nadine, because they had to put their beloved Golden retriever, Ashley, to sleep on Saturday, while she was away for the weekend. We are all feeling so sad about Ashley--she was such a sweet dog and member of their family!

With Ashley last year
Happy birthday, sweet Nadine! You are a phenomenal sister, mom, wife, aunt, doctor, and woman. I love you so much!

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