We are Sisters by Karen Valmore-Claiborne

We are sisters amazing and true.
Bonded forever through a great mother.
We will represent her true.
We have been through the storm and the rain, but we are still standing.
We are S-Soul Sisters, I-Inspiring, S-Strength, T-Triumphant, E-Eager, R-Responsible, S-Sassy, yet Sincere.
We are soul sisters because we are bonded forever.
We are inspiring because we inspire everyone who has engaged in our presence.
We are eager because we have always been willing to help our fellow man (or woman).
We are responsible and respected because it is our inherited trait.
We can be sassy, but yet sincere, because we are always on guard.
We will not to be defeated in any way especially in life.
We depend on our faith, because we know we only have One Source, which will surely carry us through.
Though time has escaped us, we will take advantage of every moment, whether it is for laughter, joy, or life’s unexpected twists and turns.
We are sisters.

My sister and brother (BK or Before Kay)

I have taken too long to write this about my sister, Kelly Jo.  Her birthday quietly snuck up on me, appearing on my calendar suddenly like a surprise on October 3rd.  It isn’t that her birthday has changed… no.  It has been the same for my entire life (for she is my older and wiser sister).  I could blame it on any number of things, but mostly it is because I didn’t want this to become a long and drawn out missive about my sister’s life (although I could write a number of lovely things about her).  I debated and debated about which direction to go, as the time slipped away from me.

My Dad watching over my brother and sister in their backyard pool.

Enough is enough.  This post will be about my sister and I hope by the end of it you can see why it took time to compose my thoughts.

Kelly and I have shared a bond that is difficult to write about.  We are close, but beyond close.  We lived together, sharing a room, through her teenage years.  This is a concept I struggled with when I reached that age myself.  I would have only been a young child, as I am 12 years younger than her, but I never remember her taking it out on me or ever making a huge deal about it.  I only have vague recollections as a child, but a few of them stick out.

My dad and my sister.

I remember when she went off to college.  I don’t think she ever knew that I spent most of the night crying.  I knew things would change forevermore.  I missed her terribly, for even then we had developed a bond – she was one of my best friends.   I was too young to understand much at that age, but it was difficult for me.

I remember her job at McDonald’s, and how she hated it.  I also remember her passion for becoming a special education teacher and how proud mom was of her.  It always amazed our mother that Kelly knew from such a young age what she wanted to do in life.  I know Kelly remembers some things differently from those years, for there was a lot of anger between Mom and her, but the pride with which Mom talked of her and her accomplishments are something I will never forget.

My sister in her tap costume, she is the one furthest to the left.

It is all these memories, all the moments, that make up our life together.  There is a lot of love between us – we have been in each others weddings, I enjoyed watching her become a mother to her boys, spending endless hours lamenting over our parents, rubbing feet, discussing recipes, grieving together, giving advice.  I am so blessed to have her in my life.  She is more than my sister she is my best friend.  That seems so cliché, given our history, but it is words that best suite the feeling.

This is the caption I wrote when I took it: "My Sis and Dad lounging outside.. enjoying the gorgeous day... after brunch — with Kelly Hoffman Hamsley and Don Hoffman."

Since the loss of our parents, I sometimes worry that Kelly feels compelled to step into their role, taking care of my kids – making sure they know they have family.  I wish she knew how much I adore her – how her fight with cancer gave me hope.  How I watch her be a Mom to her boys, who love her and want to do things for her not just because she is their mom, but because she is who she is.  They are grown now and not without their own issues, but she has never let those issues be a deterrent in leading a good life.  I have looked forward to every vacation I could spend with her, hanging out at the beach, drinking our coffee on the sand, watching the sun rise.

My Sister and her husband, Pat

You need not worry about me, my dear sweet sister.  I have you to fall back on when the days get too heavy.  I will support you through thick and thin, no matter what.  I know I cannot replace our parents, but I wouldn’t want to – as it would take away from the special spot you have in my heart, the lovely person you have become, and the life we lead.

Happy Birthday Kelly.  I hope you know how much I love you.

Kelly Jo - my sister, my best friend