Saving My Sister

I love my sister. Nothing that has happened and nothing that will happen will ever change that. If she keeps drinking, she will die; from the sounds of it she may not have long.

Our father died on August 16, 1969. I was 15 and my sister (how I love the words, my sister) was 10 when, 16 weeks after he died, my mother placed me in reform school on a PINS (Person in Need of Supervision) Petition and subsequently disowned me. In those days a PINS often meant a family saying to the court, I don’t want him, you take him. While I lost my father and  family in a 16-week span, my sister lost her father and brother, a brutal event for any 10-year-old.

We would run into each other from time to time over the years. When my mother and I began to reconcile in the late 1970s, it was because I’d begun to visit my sister who shared a split-level home her. We came together for a short time when our mother committed suicide in August 1992.

My sister has three children, one boy and two girls. The boy is the oldest and at age 35 is a remarkable young man. Recently he reached out to me to let me know my sister is in bad shape. She can’t (won’t) stop drinking. Her body is breaking down (she’s 52), she has a hard time opening her hands and refuses help of any kind, including medical help.

I am a recovering alcoholic and know damned well you can’t make another person get sober or make someone choose life. I also know I can’t make someone discover their value and worth even though it’s there.  At  the center of who my sister is, behind the horror and dysfunction and pain, is a gloriously wonderful person.

She used to enjoy telling the following story about us. I’d been out of the family for a couple of years. She was 12 or 13. I was staying not far from where she lived with my mother and grandparents. One day not far from her house she was  being harassed and threatened by three boys when, as she describes it, “My brother came flying out of car, challenged them all to a fight, and they ran.”

I’ll try to save you again my precious sister, but I can’t do it without you.


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