Ten years before I was born, my mom gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever received, an older sister.
In the 17 years since, Katherine has proven to be the gift that keeps on giving.
When my parents gave me Katherine, they didn’t just give me a sister, they gave me a confidant, a beautician, a cheerleader, an artistic cohort, a roommate, and a best friend.
Katherine challenges me to be inquisitive. We used to fall asleep playing 20 questions in our clunky bunk-bed, which she kindly permitted in her newly redecorated bedroom, even after I spilled nail polish on the floor she had just painstakingly restored. Now when she comes home, we play 20 questions in our dad’s hand-me-down trundle bed (I get the drawer).
She motivates me to be creative, both through her amazing acting and her passionate writing. I can still remember watching Katherine as Marianne the Librarian when she was 13 and I was 3. She showed me how rewarding theatre can be, and encouraged me to act when I started school.
Katherine helps me build my skill as a writer, both by example in her hilarious comedy sketches and thoughtful poems, and by direct analysis of my writing. She pushes me to follow my passion and to change the world.
She inspires me to be a better person through her thoughtful gifts and considerate actions. For Christmas this year she gave me a piece of Nakate jewelry, which highlighted both of our passion for fashion and social justice. Nakate is a philanthropic company which employs rural Ugandan women who make beads from recycled paper and string them together on recycled wire. My blue Nakate necklace was one of my favorite Christmas presents.
Yesterday was Katherine’s birthday and I hope her gifts were just as wonderful as the one I received ten years before I was born.
A pencil sketch has hung in our front hallway for more than a dozen years. It shows 14 year-old Katherine standing straight and tall, pony-tail poised and too skinny for her jeans. Back to back with her is four-year old me, stretching mightily with a toothy grin.