The Gift Of A Sister

27 years ago today was a happy and joyous day. I finally had a sister. I had waited first for a brother. He was pretty awesome, arriving a couple of years prior. But a sister? To be my friend? To be just like me? I was overjoyed to have a sister. 

Big SisterAlthough you probably can’t tell in the midst of the ugliest stage of my life. It’s important to keep it real around here. 1987 was a bad year for me in terms of teeth, glasses and perms! But a blessing to have a sister. She was named Kirsti Rennae. Kirsti, after our great-great grandmother who immigrated from Norway and my mom’s middle name. Pronounced Key-er-stee. And Rennae after my mom’s college roommate and who we call Auntie Rennae. 

Cowgirl KirstiMy sister Kirsti grew up, eight years my junior. And she wasn’t like me. At all. We actually are opposites in most areas of our lives. I am messy. She is neat. I am extroverted. She is introverted. I am loud. She likes quiet. I stomp. She tip-toes. I am not shy. She is soft-spoken. I am not creative. She is creative. I am not very sensitive. She is thoughtful and sensitive. (Which I may have taken advantage of in her younger years. Mean big sister, I was at times.)

When Nathan and I were dating, Kirsti was just starting college. We were opposites in all facets of life I thought. I remember Nathan telling me, “Give you and your sister five years and you’ll be best friends.”

He was right. Less than five years later, she was our nanny, living with us for a summer. We weren’t just sisters anymore. We became best friends. Since then she has become a wife with a career, living in the oil boom area of North Dakota. But this last year has been the most transformational year in my sister’s life.Sisters

This past November, Kirsti became a mother. Our kids were so giddy for their first cousin. But I hadn’t fully prepared myself for emotions in seeing my younger sister become a mother, the pride and joy I would feel holding my sister’s baby or how fulfilled I would feel by seeing my sister’s happiness.

A new girl in the familyAs soon as Baby Nola, named after our beloved maternal grandma, arrived, the girls and I are were speeding west to see Kirsti, Mike and to meet Baby Nola. It was there in the hospital room I had a moment to soak in how grateful I was to have the gift of a sister. 

First Time AuntieHolding Baby Nola took me back to the hospital room in 1987, to the joy and happiness I felt with Kirsti’s arrival and to the friendship Nola would bring now to my own daughters and son. 

Generations of Girls

February 2014 photo: Elizabeth, Kirsti, Anika and me, with Baby Nola in my lap.

More than ever before in my 35 years of life, I am blessed by the gift of a sister. We share more commonalities than ever before in our lives. We talk, confide and trust each other as sisters but also as true and intensely loyal friends. What I didn’t know in 1987 when Kirsti arrived is how she would make me a better person. How she would give me confidence when I needed it. How she would help me to slow down and see a different point of view. How she would guide me in being creative and not so black and white. Or how she would make me feel so complete when I am with her and her baby.

I am blessed by the gift of a sister. 

Happy Birthday Kirsti Rennae!


  1. says

    Sisters really are awesome! This is a beautiful tribute to your Sister, Katie!

    My Sister is 2 years younger than me. We fought like cats and dogs growing up, but always were united on the school bus and play ground. We moved the summer before I started my Junior year of HS and Mick was an incoming Freshman. We really bonded and became best friends. I’m sure that me having a drivers licence and if Mick was going to town with me she had permission to stay out until my midnight curfew, didn’t hurt the situation (lol).

    We have had our ups and downs over the years, but always make up. Siblings have a unique relationship and understanding due to having the same parents and sharing so many life events together. When I think my ideas or thoughts seem a little off, Mick seems to know where I am coming from and usually agrees with me.

    We live way to far apart and I miss her like crazy.

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