Sisters

My two little sisters are a blessing and a curse. I have memories of their births, though some of the details get a little confused. I remember being woken up in the middle of the night and getting carried out to our old chevy pick up truck but I don’t know if my other sister was there. We never went for rides in the middle of the night, only for Christmas Eve Mass, so an outing such as this was not forgotten. The other memory I have is driving to the hospital with my dad and our cat Dax, again I don’t know if my other sister was there. This memory I think is the most important because it shows how unimportant the birth of a sister was to my child mind. We had arrived at the hospital and my mom was lying in bed. She might have been holding my new-born baby sister, or perhaps it was my dad. Then my mom had opened up a drawer, took out a box of smarties and gave me the box of treats. I was so happy about those smarties, nothing else mattered, and that is all I can remember. As a mother I can reflect on my mom’s choices during that night in the hospital so long ago, and I now understand  that I was most certainly being bribed.

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They were so cute back in the ’80s.

Our birth order certainly shaped our personalities; we were your typical trio. As the first born I always had to set an example for my little sisters, and consequently am a little tightly wound up. The middle child, Lynette, had to negotiate within the complicated power relations of our family, and is always wheeling and dealing. The youngest, Bernette, watched her older sisters make mistakes, and now has the “I’ll show them all” attitude. (I still don’t know why my parents went with the “ette”s. I could have been a really good Annette)

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Lynette preparing for our youngest sister’s wedding.

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Bernette giving me the “WTF Amanda?” look.

My sons love hearing me tell stories about my sisters and I growing up, especially the ones where there is fighting involved. I try telling them about how we played with my-little-ponies or pretended to be mermaids in the ditches near the railway tracks, but they prefer to hear about the sister fights. They like to know that we were bad kids too. Like, what kind of young girl in a fit of anger would decide to throw an empty porcelain sheep-shaped Avon perfume bottle at her sister’s head? And what kind of girls would tie up their youngest sister to a chair and then shut off the lights and leave her in the basement? Yeah, my sons love hearing about that one.

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Me and my sisters.

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I see a resemblance between my boys and my sisters when they were kids.

Being the eldest I still feel responsible for my sisters. Sometimes I wonder if my eldest son feels this for his younger brother or not? He is growing up in a very different kind of family than the one that my sisters and I had to deal with. I am providing my boys with a safe and loving environment where they don’t need to protect each other in the home. Growing up I had to watch out for my sisters all the time – the drinking brought out the worst in the adults. My mom did her best to protect us but she wasn’t always there.

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Thanksgive’r tableau.

As adults, we still act like those little girls when we get together. We love to laugh at each other. We break off into pairs, and whisper about the other sister behind her back. We talk about ex boyfriends and poke at old wounds that only we know are there. No one can hurt us like we can. My middle sister recently found out that her partner of 10 years was cheating on her. Her grief is heartbreaking but soon enough she will be back out there wheeling and dealing. Her pain is short term and nothing like the scars that us sisters have inflicted on each other. Those scars are there for us to pick at and to remind us that we are always sisters. This year my youngest sister married her partner with whom she’s been with forever, and now they are finally talking about starting a family, just for me, so I can be an aunty. Hahaha. Perhaps they will start another generation of sisters.

 

Over these years we’ve pushed and pulled each other but we know that we are sisters. We are family and we will always stand by each others sides, no matter what.

-xox your big sis, Amanda Laliberte

 

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kisâkihitin – you are loved by me

Yesterday, someone asked me about how my husband and I met. I don’t get asked this question very often but when it happens I get this silly grin on my face, my eyes glaze over and my stomach feels lighter.

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In the summer of 2005 I had just moved to Victoria after spending a year in Nanaimo attending Malaspina College/University. My summer job was working for the Metis Nation of Greater Victoria as their admin assistant. One day, this guy walked in to the office. Oooooooo eeeeeeee he was one good lookin’ guy. He introduced himself and told me that he’d just moved back from Montreal. He wanted to be closer to his family. I thought, hmmm. Nice guy, good values. We chatted some more, I told him about our monthly potlucks and of the employment training programs we were offering that summer. Eventually he left and I remember the other women in the office rushing in asking me what had just happened. I told them nothing. Period. They told me they certainly saw something good. And from there on the teasing started, the blushing and a lot of laughter. This guy kept stopping by the office that month for other things, which I didn’t mind. And then one day I dropped the boyfriend bomb on him. Yeah, did I forget to mention that I had moved to Victoria because of my boyfriend? Whoops. I remember the awkwardness of the situation and the look on his face. He stopped dropping by the office after that for some reason.

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Over the next couple of years, our paths crossed again and again. Him and his mom would attend MNGV potlucks, we were  in a few of the same classes at UVIC, where we both got active in the Native Students Union and the LE,NONET program. There was even a time when I made an attempt on a first year Biology course (I barely passed on that one) and we tried studying together. Yep, it didn’t work, I found myself way too distracted by him just being him. The way he spoke, the way he looked, the way he would try to get me excited about cells and mitochondria and ATP and stuff like that. Many of my good friends will remember what it was like being in the basement of the NSU when he and I were in the same room. Me and my nervous cackle laughter and acting like I was busy. Him acting like he was busy in those silver Havaianas that he wore in the warmer months and cowboy boots in the winter months.

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One afternoon a few of us were hanging out at the NSU and my friend’s daughter and I were playing M.A.S.H. I named off 4x boys names, 4x jobs, 4x cars, 4x living spaces, 4x cities, 4x numbers, 4x pets and then she did the spiral thing and I told her to stop. The game started and she began to count and cross things off. As she started to cross things off, I felt myself blushing like an 8 year old girl but also crossing my fingers that THIS would be my M.A.S.H., my future. I felt myself changing another shade of red as she read my future out loud for everyone to hear. He was was also in the room. I would one day become a dolphin trainer, who would live in a motel in Duncan with a dog and drive a Porsche while raising 13 kids with my husband, Ami.

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As I write this I can’t help but laugh and cry a bit. Who knew that all these years later my life wouldn’t be so far fetched from that M.A.S.H. game? Thanks Emma. Just in case you need extra money while going off to university this fall, do your M.A.S.H. thing.

A few days from now, we will be reflecting, remembering and celebrating our sixth wedding anniversary. I am incredibly blessed to be sharing this crazy life with my husband and our two sons.

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