Tell me about your relationship…  “I’m  the middle child. My brother was one year older than me, and my sister  is four years younger. It was one of those things…I didn’t know her well  because when I was leaving for college, she was going into high school.  So I wasn’t home. I haven’t lived at home since I was 17, so I didn’t  really know her that well as an adult until my brother died.”
  How was it being the youngest?  “I’m the baby, but I’m the person in charge!” “Oh she’d like to think so!”
  Is the sister you knew as a child the same one you know now?  “I’m  gonna say yes. She’s always had that ‘I’m a thinker’ way about her.  She’s always thinking. And that’s what most of her baby pictures look  like…she was always trying to work something out. She’s still that  person.”
  Did y’all fight as kids?  “Oh there was lots  of fighting going on! Mostly between my brother and I. You could get  into big trouble fighting her. But she was sneaky! So we had to be very  careful because she’s one of those you’d say, “Listen up. Don’t tell.”  And we would bribe her…Oh we would bribe her!…But she was always going  to tell it.”
  What’s one of your favorite memories with her?  “May  of 1978. I had just graduated from high school, and that’s when she  sent for me to come to Detroit. As a graduation present. That was my  first time out of Birmingham. I was 17, and we really didn’t know each  other very well. I met a guy…he wanted to marry me…she wouldn’t have it!  I was 17! Oh it was so much fun.”
  Can you tell me about losing your brother?  “It  was devastating. We were close in the way that, he might get on my  nerves but if anyone else has a problem with him then they have a  problem with me. We were close like that. When he passed, it was one of  those moments where…I didn’t know if I was going to be OK. Because I  never even contemplated such a thing. I was only 22. It was such a blow.  I couldn’t get it out of my brain.”  “And I was the one  having to be at the funeral home, making the arrangements, trying to  work out having him flown from Virginia to Alabama. Because I was NOT  burying him in Virginia.”  “And here I was the older  sister, and I was thinking that they wanted me to be someone I couldn’t  possibly be. But I was like, ‘I can’t help you. I can barely get myself  together.’”
  What’s something you learned from her?  “She’s  always encouraged me to look for the bigger picture. Don’t just get a  job for the moment. Don’t just start with this small step. She taught me  how you need to look ahead for advancement. Because she knew I could do  it.”  “Growing up I got a lot of the attention as the  person who was ‘school smart’ and who was going to go on and do these  fantastic things. But my brother? Amazing! My sister? Amazing! I was  always saying, ‘I have to study hard!’ I didn’t have a talent or  anything that came naturally to me in that way. But they did.”
 “She’s a people person, and that’s harder for me. I’m super  introverted. She’s Miss Congeniality all the time, and people gravitate  toward her. She is easy with them. She’s not always that nice, but they  still like her, right? I’m not that nice, but I don’t have that other  piece.”
  What makes her laugh?  “Oooh Lord. What makes her laugh? I don’t know what makes her laugh.” “What makes anybody laugh? We laugh a lot but…” “Go on and tell the truth…we don’t know the answer to that one!”
  What’s the best thing about having a sibling?  “I  think the best thing is that I have a witness to my mom and my  grandparents. There’s someone else who knew them in a way that I knew  them. That was the hardest thing when my mom died…because who in this  world knows me in that way besides my mom? There’s nobody else. And that  seems like such a cruel thing to have the person who knows you like  that be gone. When you have siblings…there’s someone else who can  corroborate your story and be a witness to those same moments in time.”
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