Type and press Enter.

Being a sister

My first memory of my little sister Jonti, is an argument I had with my parents about her name. I remember sitting in a booth at a local diner – one of those with sticky leather seats and very bright pink strawberry milkshakes; “Jonti is a boy name and if you call my baby sister Jonti I will always call her Jon”. I was almost four years old. “You can call her whatever you like” my mom said sweetly.

My next memory is a blur between what could actually be a memory and what might just be a moment I’ve seen on a picture so many times that I think I can remember it. I’m wearing a purple tracksuit with a telephone printed on the front and a twirly telephone-cord stitched onto the jumper. I’m sitting on the floor and in my arms is a tiny, pink little person I was planning on calling Jon.

Jonti had a difficult birth into this world and she came out with a broken nose and a black eye from the forceps the doctors had to use to get her out.. My dad was so shocked by her appearance that he broke down and by the time my grandparents arrived at the hospital, he was crying so hard they thought she must have died during birth. She was a pretty ugly baby, but that didn’t stop her from growing up into a total knockout.

Being a big sister turned out to be a challenge, especially because Jonti, whose name I later came to accept, was not the kind of little sister who would ever do anything that I suggested. She was headstrong and feisty from the very start. I remember arguing with her about who between the two of us was the oldest. “My birthday is in April and that’s before July so I am the oldest”, a four-year-old Jonti would proclaim, hands on hips.

My sister is tall and skinny and as a little girl she was particularly gangly. Our grandma used to have these fabric doilies over the armrests of her couches, and I would tie them together to create a variety of high-fashion garments that I would get skinny little Jonti to model for the family.

We would spend hours playing “apartment-apartment” in the house we grew up in. Our bedrooms were one room apart in a long corridor and I would knock on her door and introduce myself as her new neighbour. “Do you want to go shopping?” I’d ask. “Let me just ask my man” she would reply. Which was an improvement from what she used to call her imaginary husband: “my boss”.

Although we were four years apart, Jonti never lived in any big sister shadow cast by me. We had similar talents and activities, but Jonti has always excelled at everything she has tried in her own right. It’s almost like we grew up as contemporaries, instead of big-sister-little-sister. In fact, when she started high school as I was in my final year, a few teachers even started referring to me as “Jonti’s sister”.

Growing up, I’d try to exert my big sister power over her, but she was never one for ageism in the household. There was always a 50/50 chance she would be the one to jump in the front seat or grab the tv remote first and no amount of “but I’m the oldest” could wrestle that tv remote from her grip. I actually remember a particular incident where I threw said remote at her head after a heated argument over who should get to hold it.

As we grew older, we grew further apart. We have different interests and personalities and in our teenage years, those differences seemed too big to set aside. We moved in different circles and lived separate lives outside of our home and I sometimes wished for the sisterly bond portrayed by the American movies we would sometimes watch together. By my early twenties I had accepted that we were just too different to be friends, but I was grateful to have her as a sister.

I am almost 27 years old now and Jonti is 24. Two years ago she moved away to Australia and we started to make a concerted effort to connect and stay in touch with one another. For the first time, we started to treat one another as friends, instead of taking each other for granted as sisters.

Over the past two years, we have both grown and as Jonti has started to spread her wings and forge her own path, we’ve found that we have more mutual interests than we initially thought we did. They aren’t movies and music, but family and ambition and a shared sense of humour. We might not chat every day, but when there is something I need to talk to someone about that only a sister would understand, I am so happy that she is there.

Since Jonti moved half way across the globe, I’ve gotten to know her better than when we shared a home and I’ve grown to deeply love her as a friend, even more than as a sister. We Skype often and consult on important life issues and we finally share the bond I’d always hoped we would.

My sister is remarkably gorgeous and with her stunning figure and blond hair she turns heads wherever she goes. But I know that this is the very least of her assets. She is so smart that it might scare some people and she is so funny that she gives me a tummy ache. She is thoughtful and kind and deeply spiritual. She is passionate and driven and outrageously talented. She’s the most disciplined person I have ever met and there has never been a single thing that she hasn’t been able to achieve once she’s put her mind to it.

We are still so different in so many ways; I am very friendly and overly-enthusiastic sometimes and she is aloof and reserved to the point of coming off as cold, but once you get to know her she is as warm as the sun. I am erratic and impulsive while she is contemplative and calculated. We each have what the other lacks. But what we share is a sense of humour that binds us together like two hearts of gold melted in a furnace.

She just recently got engaged and I wish that I could have hugged her and taken her out for a bottle of champagne. I wish we could get together this weekend for a day at the spa or a dinner with our “bosses”. But I’ll have to settle for a Skype call for now while I wait to hug her in Melbourne in December. In the meantime, I can’t wait to plan her wedding with her.

I’ve been so lucky to spend the past 24 years watching the little scrawny Jonti she was grow into the powerful, gorgeous Jonti she is now. And I can’t wait to spend the next 50 years watching our lives unfold together, even if it is from afar.

If you have a younger sibling or child, show them some child-friendly, great skits here on YouTube.





  1. What a stunning piece! Yes, I cried.

  2. love this post! Congrats to Jon! x

  3. So beautifully written, you have me in tears! I’m 6 and 8 years younger than my sisters and its amazing how much closer we are now than we ever were growing up. I’ve stopped being the brat (I hope) and have so much respect for them and all they’ve achieved.
    Enjoy the wedding planning! x

  4. Shed a tear and made me miss my sister over the seas! Super sweet post.

  5. Messagei liked this post. It’s good to read something honest about siblings because it’s not always peachy. I hope December comes quickly for you 🙂

  6. Such a lovely read 🙂

  7. Well… snot en trane over here! BEAUTIFUL! You two sound identical to how my sister and I are! Also insanely different, but I’m soooo grateful to have her as my sister! x

  8. <3 such beautiful heart words. I'm so glad to know you. Xx

  9. Lovely to read this! Love the honesty! My sister and I are 9 years apart and sometimes I feel like she MUST take guidance from me and let me just BE a big sister where I’m reality I probably learn more from her than her from me. It’s amazing what they pick up from is though. But it’s such a special bond and I’m glad you two are finding your rhythm :)!!!!

Comments are closed.