August first is fast approaching and each year the anticipation up to the day causes heartache, sadness, and sweet memories of my beautiful older sister Margie. The girl with the wide smile, big brown sparkling eyes, long silky straight brown hair, and bubbling, sweet and generous personality.
I look through the photographs from out childhood and the love amongst sisters shines through. Our father had a Polaroid camera. The birthday party favors consistent of your black and white photo dressed up from the theme of the party. Margie stands wearing my father’s suit hanging off her shoulders down to the floor, a hat to the side, her hands gestured in a pose, perpetually the actress.
I spent years being jealous of Margie – her numerous talents as a skater, and cheerleader; her slim figure and numerous friends and boyfriends. I idolized Margie and our times together filled with laughter. She knew me better than I knew myself.
One of my favorite memories I would like to share, an excerpt from Celebration of Sisters: It Is Never Too Late To Grieve, epitomizes our relationship.
Margie was ten and I was eight. We went snooping for Chanukah presents in the basement in my father’s office. Typical of our relationship, Margie was the boss. When we opened the door to the basement, I wanted to chicken out.
“Margie, we can’t do this. We’re going to get into trouble.”
Margie smirked. “Come on, Judy, no one will know. It will be our secret—promise you won’t tell?”
“I promise,” I said.
As we crept down the steep linoleum stairs to our father’s study—Margie first, then me—we pinky swore never to tell. We stood in the front of the door for a moment, then Margie twisted the knob and pushed it open. Sure enough, the presents were stacked on the desk. We quickly rushed over and squealed with excitement over the large boxes and stifled our laughter so we wouldn’t get caught.
Margie grabbed a medium-sized box and carefully started peeling the tape off the corner.
“Margie! What are you doing? They’ll know we opened them,” I gasped. I thought we were just on the hunt for the presents, not knowing that she had intentions to open them.
“Don’t worry, you scaredy-cat,” she giggled. Then she continued to peel the paper back.
“How are we going to rewrap them?”
“Look, the tape peeled right off,” said Margie. “We’ll put them back just as we found them.”
My heart pounded as I watched her pull back the paper to reveal the name underneath. It was an Easy-Bake Oven. I was so excited, and together we peeled back the tape on all of the presents: Creepy Crawlers and button-making toys, which were the cat’s meow.
For Chanukah, the presents were placed at our assigned seats at the dining room table. As we each opened one present, Margie and I acted surprised. “Wow, just what I wanted. Thank you so much!” We ran to give our parents a kiss. Our performances were worthy of an Oscar award. Margie eyed me with a twinkle in her big brown eyes. My non-poker face did not give us away. We held this secret between us until decades later when it was finally revealed to our parents.
My dear sister Margie, I will always love you. You will forever be beside me and in my heart.
Judy Lipson, is the Founder of Celebration of Sisters, an ice skating fundraiser established in 2011 to commemorate the memories of her beloved sisters to benefit Massachusetts General Hospital. Judy has published articles for The Open to Hope Foundation and The Centering Organization. Massachusetts General Hospital and SKATING Magazine featured numerous pieces on Judy’s philanthropic work. Judy appeared as a guest on The Open To Hope and The Morning Glory Podcasts. Her passion for figure skating secured the recipient of U.S. Figure Skating Association 2020 Get Up Award. Judy’s memoir, Celebration of Sisters: It Is Never Too Late To Grieve, released December 2021 by WriteLife Publishing.