Sharon Randall

Sharon Randall

Birthdays should be celebrated with somebody who loves you. Even if the “somebody” refuses to spend five hours on a plane breathing through a mask just to come sing “Happy Birthday.”

I adore my sister. We don’t always see eye-to-eye, but isn’t that how it is with family? You love being together, talking, laughing, telling stories, trying hard to avoid a fist fight.

My sister and I are like peas in a pod. Except when we’re like peas shot from peashooters aimed at each other’s eyes.

It started the day I was born. Bobbie was almost 6 years old, the apple of everyone’s eye. Then I showed up, a new bud on the family tree. Was it my fault I was adorable? Of course not.

She swears she was happy to share the spotlight. But she swears to lots of things that are not exactly true. For example:

The Christmas I was 4 and she was 10, I wanted a bride doll and she wanted a BB gun. Instead, she got the doll and I got a plastic tea set. She swears she gave that doll to me. No. She gave it to our cousin Sandy, who then helped her wrestle a BB gun away from our cousin Larry.

When I was 17, and Bobbie was 23, we spent a weekend at the beach, where I accidentally splashed her in the pool. She looked like a drowned rat.

Vowing to get even, she put her hair in pincurls, covered it with a wig, and challenged me to a dual in the bumper car arena.

Somehow, my bumper car accidentally rammed into her’s.

And her wig flew off and landed like a dead squirrel on the floor. When they stopped the cars to retrieve it for her, everybody laughed and hooted.

Bobbie swore I bumped her on purpose. No, I said, accidents happen.

Thirty years later, when I lost my first husband to cancer, Bobbie stayed by my side, cheered up my kids and let me rest. Then she took me to Mexico and made me pose for a photo with a live chimpanzee.

She doesn’t deny any of that. She’s proud of it. So am I.

Here’s my favorite story about my sister. Every word is true.

After seven years as a widow, I finally took my former editor to the Carolinas, to meet my family. Everybody liked him.

“If you don’t marry him,” Bobbie said, “I will.”

So I married him.

A year later, when we visited her again, Bobbie offered to let us use her car. We were leaving her house to run an errand when suddenly I recalled what she kept in the glove box of her car.

“Wait here,” I told my husband. I ran inside where my sister was watching TV.

“Sissy,” I said, “your gun is still in the glove box!”

“Well, bring it in,” she said.

“I’m not touching it!”

“Fine!” she said. She followed me out to the car muttering words I won’t repeat.

My husband was sitting in the driver’s seat listening to a game on the radio. Bobbie opened the passenger door. Reaching for the glove box, she glanced back at me and hissed, “Wimp!”

What happened next was not my fault. As she leaned into the car, a gap between her back and her elastic waistband parted like the Red Sea. And I poured a Diet Pepsi down her pants.

Little did I know she already had the gun in her hand. When she whirled around and fired, my poor husband couldn’t see that she had missed me. Let me assure you, her pants were not the only ones that were wet.

Bobbie claims, if she’d killed me, she’d have been set free due to a justifiable defense called “the fool needed killing.”

The stories we tell about our loved ones reveal not only who they are, but why we love them.

My sister has a birthday soon.

We’ll celebrate apart, but near at heart. I’ll phone to sing “Happy Birthday,” and say “so glad you were born,” and remind her of stories she swears aren’t true.

I’ll promise to come see her again someday, in this world or the next. And she might promise not to shoot me.

But I doubt it.

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