January 17, 2010. My older sister Patty flew into town for a brief visit Friday night. A little more than five years her junior, I miss the comfort of her presence more than she can know. Although she is tall, thin, dark-haired and Republican, and I’m two inches shorter, considerably heavier, blonde, and a Democrat, there can be no mistaking our relation. Before I moved to New York, she and I lived within blocks of each other, and maybe because her kids were still small, I saw her almost daily. I was intimately involved in her children’s lives, which was her precious gift to me, and I was a phone call away whenever she needed help or companionship. We were better than best friends. We were sisters. And we still are. Though its no one’s fault, she’s not here for me to lean on the way I was there for her during the years her kids, who are now in college, were small. I live in upstate New York and she lives in Atlanta. But she’s here now, and for that I’m thrilled. We giggle like schoolgirls over shared memories, quirky habits, her impending “Jubilee” (50th birthday), and the general idiosyncrasy of humanity. We even laugh to the point of tears over the absolute absurdity, at times, of Pat’s and my life with Sophie and Peter. Especially Peter. Ours is healing laughter and I crave it. Pat is happy to sit back and watch the show. He knows Patty and I are meant to be inseparable. Today we take her on a tour of the mansions of the Mid-Hudson Valley: Mills, Vanderbilt and Roosevelt. We hike the grounds at Mills, drive around Vanderbilt and take a group tour of FDR’s boyhood home. Peter tells our guide that he visited the mansion with his class in 2nd grade. It’s a perfectly reasonable comment. When he raises his hand again later, in response to the guide asking whether there are any more questions, we don’t get particularly alarmed. We’re hoodwinked, of course. This time he asks,“You know about who is the lady with the cotton on her bottom?” A small symphony of “ahs” and “uhms” erupts and then Patty leaps into action, intending to contain the situation should Peter attempt to elaborate further. Once safely out of earshot of my son, we erupt in uncontrollable waves of cascading giggles. I feel annoyed and embarrassed, certainly, but its funny and in many ways predictable. I miss you, Patty. Please come back soon.