One of my favorite memories of my sister Christina occurred when she was nine, soon after she came to live with us. We were up visiting some of my dad’s family, and a bunch of us cousins decided to walk to the nearby park. It was a fall day, the grass was a yellowish brown, the ground was hard, and we were toughing it out in our light jackets.
The older cousins spent most of the time talking and just hanging out in the woods. We were in to being cool and older than we were, and weren’t there to play. But my little sister and my younger cousin Marky wandered off. I was too focused on myself to notice at first – but then it hit me that as the new older sister, I might get in a lot of trouble for not watching after her.
So we went looking for them, and eventually ended up back at the playground. It wasn’t much of a place – a stark array of swings, a slide, and some monkey bars.. One of the monkey bars was shaped like an oval space ship that you could climb up inside. That’s where we found Christina and Marky. They were sitting huddled inside the cold steel structure, shooting out the port holes at imagined aliens and monsters.
Her cold little hands were trying to form guns, but her pointer fingers were crooked and her thumbs were tucked over her fists. She made girlish little “peww, peww” sounds for her lasers.
As the big sister, I felt compelled to show her the “right” way to shoot imaginary lasers, but it wasn’t for her. She continued to punch her little hands awkwardly and “peww, peww” until it was time to go home.
It’s such a very little moment. But it stands out so vividly in my mind. As we got older, I’d imitate her “peww, peww” from back then. At first she’d try to swipe at me and get upset at the teasing, but then she realized I was just recalling a fond memory.
Even now, when I’m missing her, I’ll find my hands mimicking hers, and softly “peww, peww” at imaginary aliens. And it still brings a smile.
The 2010 Geek Gala is in memory of my little sister Christina. All proceeds benefit Youth Homes, a local nonprofit that helps troubled kids and their families. For more info, visit the Geek Gala page.