I’ve been thinking about what to write for Thankful Thursday. I’ve also been thinking a bit about my older sister, Cassandra, who turns 40 on Sunday. So, I decided to dedicate Thankful Thursday to her three days before the big day.
The number “40” is rather frightening to think about, but Cass actually personifies the popular expression “Forty is the new thirty.”
Truly. She is a tiny little thing with a nice complexion and cute, bouncy, spiraling curly hair. She is fit, toned, and exercises regularly. If you saw her in person I don’t think you’d put her much past her early 30s.
It was not easy growing up in a family of three girls all three years apart. We all have such different personalities, talents, interests that it’s remarkable we come from the same parents. However, along with the insecurities, competition, and fighting growing up, there were also plenty of laughs, dancing, listening to music, playing sports and piano, and general play in the house and outside.
It must be difficult being the oldest of three girls. Cassandra set the bar and worked the hardest of us at school and activities. She was the first to march on up to college and receive her Bachelor’s degree. And way back in 1984, she received first place in the running long jump at the Arco Jesse Owens track meet and flew to Los Angeles to compete in the national meet. I think she even got to watch some of the Olympics. In ballet, Cass made it to pointe shoes and danced some of the advanced roles in the Nutcracker.
When all three of us fished on Dad’s boat during the Alaska salmon seasons, Cass was the deck boss and helped Steph and I not make mistakes on deck or get in too much trouble.
“Here!” she’d whisper, crouching next to us. “Coil this line! Dad’s watching!”
Cass is rather reserved and private (so she’ll probably love this birthday blog post) but she has a wicked wit, an observant eye, and a knack for calling things out in a humorous and unique way.
One of the things about Cass that always makes me laugh (even as I type this) is the look on her face whenever I show up somewhere she is. Parties, family gatherings, bars, wherever. Her expression becomes a priceless mix of weariness, annoyance, and hope rolled into one. Ha ha!
My sister has not had the easiest life. I was with her at our family seafood store fourteen years ago this month when the call came in that something horrific had occurred on our family fishing boat in Alaska. I drove her to the family home and watched as she learned that her husband of four months, Danny, had been lost at sea.
Cassandra has gone to work most every single day the past fourteen years at the store she and Danny opened with our dad. She helps retail and wholesale customers, deals with inspectors, smokes and cans seafood, vacuum-packs product and fillets fish.
She bought her own house, her own car, and pays for most of her own vacations. She puts her own money into her own retirement fund. She is one of the strongest people I know and hasn’t depended upon anything–a trust fund, men, family–outside of herself to make her way in the world.
Cassandra and I are very…uh…different from each other in many ways and that is challenging at times. But in the end, she’s always been one of my most loyal supporters and wanted to see me succeed in my life, family, and goals.
When I began training to become a Jazzercise instructor, both Cass and Steph were my two faithful pretend students in the living room of my house. We had a lot of fun as I learned how to cue the moves and routines and they tried to follow.
When I called the family store ten years ago from where I was living 500 miles away and excitedly blurted out my plans to become a writer and abandon the destructive path I’d been traveling, it was Cassandra who answered the phone and first shared my happiness.
And two years later, when I read from an essay in my first anthology publication, she was in the bookstore audience.
So, Happy Early 40th Birthday, Cass! Thanks for being the focus of Thankful Thursday. And a Happy Thirsty Thursday, too!
Cheers from your “favorite” (lol) sister.