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My Sister & Me

There were three kids in my family -- my sister, then me, then my brother. My sister was the athlete, my brother the musician, and I was the artsy one. It worked well. We were each good at our own thing and not in competition with one another. And then we grew up.

The three of us circa 1996.

I had wanted to become an interior designer, but there were no courses available where I lived. I would have had to go to Alberta or the States, and my parents couldn't afford that, so I opted to become a teacher like my sister. Naturally she started out as a phys ed teacher and I got my foot in the door teaching art. Amazingly, our brother did not end up in a band or teaching music; he became a carpenter like our dad. He was a master cabinetmaker and a mathematical genius, so naturally he had a thing for parabolas, and his passion was designing and making chests. He died in 2002, but his chests were his legacy. My sister and I each have one.

For all of our adult lives, my sister and I have lived in different cities -- in fact, different provinces for much of it. She has been an athlete her whole life, competitive badminton when she was younger, skiing throughout, and tennis and golf as she got older. And I pursued art. Though I didn't become an interior designer, I've lived in 14 different homes and have practiced my design skills in every one. Over the years, I've kept the design magazine industry in business, and when interior design shows came to television, I was in heaven. Over the years, I have also taken numerous drawing and painting courses. So my sister and I both remained on the same paths we started out on as kids.

And then my sister retired. Having always been a super active, constantly busy person, she suddenly found herself at loose ends. She was still doing all the things she'd always done, but now that she was no longer working, she had 8 extra hours a day to fill.

So what did she do?

She took a course in interior design.

Say what? Back up the truck. Yes, I admit her home was nicely decorated, but she was encroaching on my territory. She is an excellent seamstress and has always loved fashion -- why couldn't she have taken up fashion design instead? Or jewellery making. She started that -- even bought all the tools. But no. She has to take a liking to interior design.

I learned to live with it. Our styles were very different. Given the same room to decorate, I'm sure we would end up with completely different results.

Mine is on the left; my sister's is on the right.

One year we decided to sew the same quilting pattern. Our interpretations were night and day. I tend toward tradition and comfort. My sister likes to think she's on the cutting edge -- a trend setter. We are both perfectionists. Good enough seldom is.

The big blow for me though came when my sister decided to take up art. When I complained to my mother that she was trespassing into my territory, my mom responded with, "Well you get out there and show her then. Go run a marathon!"

The thing is I don't have an athletic bone in my body. I married an athlete. I gave birth to athletes. I recognize them, but I ain't one. I enjoy sports -- watching them, that is, and I'm probably more knowledgeable about most of them than my sister, but I have no desire to do them. I'm more of an apres ski kind of a gal. (Except for bowling ... I do enjoy that ... oh, and miniature golf and darts -- but those are games, not sports ... sigh). No, competing with my sister in the athletic arena was not an option. I remember joining her on the badminton court once so she could practise. All that running around after the bird just about killed me! And I was young then!

Thankfully when my sister took up art, she gravitated to acrylics and oils, and I paint in watercolour. She is all about colour and is attracted to very different subjects than the ones I choose. Mostly I draw and paint people. I want to convey emotion. Line, shape and shadow are my focus. So though we are both painting now, we're not really competing. My sister is a wonderful artist and I'm always proud to show off her work. And she is gracious enough to ask me for tips now and again. But I swear -- if she takes up writing, I'm going to have to hurt her.

My sister ...

... & me.

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