Losing Your Parents, Finding Your Self

And I have stopped treating her as the kid. Recently, I called her for advice on my balky computer--she is a whiz--and she said, chuckling, You know, this is the first time you've ever asked my opinion about anything. I was always the little sister.

For my part, I have become, by virtue of birth order alone, the nominal head of the family. Each year at Thanksgiving, my husband and I serve a twenty-five-pound turkey to our assorted relatives; Nancy is always there, my family anchor.

The six years since my mother's death have been the best years between my sister and me. When we talk, we almost never revisit the past. Instead we talk about politics, movies, her cats, our overlapping menopause, aging. We talk as old friends do, but with the added bonus of genetic connection.

This was not possible while my mother lived.

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