Although I frequently write about my famous interview subjects and celebrity friends, I never mention the one star in my life who shines greater than any other—someone I speak to virtually every day, a person of impeccable values who I trust and can count on no matter what.
She’s a best friend, advisor, and confidante all rolled into one. You won’t find a better listener, someone who has mastered the art of shining the spotlight on others.
She’s my sister—Debby, and there ought to be a holiday invented for sisters (and brothers). She’s especially on my mind as she’s visiting here today in Battery Park City, taking a break from her quieter life in upstate New York.
As a little girl, Debby was so adorable with those huge brown eyes and plump cheeks. I carted her around, showered her with hugs and kisses, and we laughed (and sang) hilariously about anything and everything. Five years younger than me, she was nicknamed ‘the baby’ by my Mom, the most good-natured, accommodating, easy to get along with person you’ve ever met. (I was admittedly a bit more difficult as was my older sister Joanne).
Even as a child, Debby had a special talent—caring for others. For example, as a little girl of eight she was already baby-sitting kids in the neighborhood, with a string of toddlers up and down the block vying for her attention.
Our grandfather, whom we nicknamed Papa, adored her and I once found him placidly sitting in a chair while Debby plastered down his hair, putting it into ringlets. Debby was just as close to our grandmother, Nana, and they were soul mates to the end of her long life. Likewise, both my mother and father rely on her greatly and she’s the most devoted daughter imaginable.
Through my life, through so many ups and down, she’s always been there. And I can say that I now truly understand the expression about blood being thicker than water, because the kind of unconditional love you can experience from a sister or brother, or parent, or grandparent, or family member is unlike any other relationship. Few friends or romantic partners can be that loyal or understanding. And fewer still last a half century.
I can tell you that my dog, Katie, felt the same way about Debby as I do. She’d crawl into her arms and fall soundly asleep, blissfully content. Debby would sometimes dress her up in a red coat and green hat and take her outside in winter; and in the summer, she’d throw Katie’s blue ball down our long red-carpeted hallway, and Katie would scoop it up in her mouth and throw it back at Debby, ready for another round.
As I think of both Debby and Katie—I realize that both have been my best and most loyal friends and companions–so on this sunny spring day, maybe you’ll think of your brother and sister and pick out a special card or gift that expresses the preciousness of a gift we call family.