My Sister's Will

My Sister's Will

July 12, 2003
Written eight days after my niece's birth

When I was twenty years old and she was seventeen, my parents sold our house in Boulder, Colorado and moved to New Jersey. We had three cars and four drivers, so unlike in the previous yearÕs cross-country caravan, in which we had four cars and four drivers and stayed together using CB radios, m. It was summer; she had just finished high school and I was in college, so we planned to stop and see my friends in Michigan along the way.

The night before we were to leave, my sister went off with her boyfriend. Our house was in the foothills of the Rockies in South Boulder, so it was an easy hike to privacy in the mountains. They had a fond farewell all night together.

The next day, however, the price of this rendezvous started to become apparent. My sister found out the hard way that her romantic interlude had taken place in a patch of poison ivy. She had a reaction to it all over her body, and I mean everywhere.

We were cooped up together in a car with no air conditioning and the prospect of four or five days of driving across the country, and my sister would be itching the entire time. She also had a bad skin reaction to the poison ivy; her skin swelled and the reaction spread everywhere.

Well, I have to say that this is the time in my life that I admired her most. She covered her hands with socks and just refused to scratch, rub, or otherwise disturb her skin. It was an exercise of pure will in what must have been an excruciating, torturous situation. She took antihistamines that made her sleepy and alleviated but didnÕt stop the itch. Being the mischievous older sister, I didnÕt make it easier; when she tried to sleep, I would roll down the electric windows, until I got the point that this was going too far.

As it turned out, when we reached Michigan there wasnÕt much time to see my friends, since getting my sisterÕs poison ivy reaction treated was a much higher priority. Even the steroids prescribed at the clinic didnÕt help much; she had to be treated again when we reached New Jersey.

Many years later now, she has accomplished a lot, including earning her rabbinical degree and giving birth to her first child. Some of her accomplishments must be rooted in the will and determination she demonstrated on that agonizing cross-country drive.

Copyright © 2003 Susan Midlarsky