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
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