I remember the night my sister was born. I was almost 5 years old, and I woke up because I could hear loud voices. Mom was on the phone to our neighbour, and the next thing I knew, Mrs. Somerton was there, and my parents were gone. I didn’t know what was going on, but it felt scary. Many years later I found out that because of a serious medical situation, my sister was born by emergency c-section on Valentine’s Day, a month before she was due. It was a while before I got to meet her, but I remember feeling so glad that I had a baby sister.
Lisa always seemed to be her own person. Even as a toddler, she knew what she wanted and went after it. She was also cute and had a personality that drew people to her. She seemed to love being the center of attention. I was, and still am, in awe of this creature who seemed so brave and fearlessly went about her life.
When my sister was 3 years old we moved to a new neighbourhood and she made friends with a little girl who lived a couple of houses down. They were the same age and have remained friends for 47 years. Not only that, but their children became friends as well.
She was a fierce soccer player, playing through the leg pain of “the Jarvis knees”. I loved watching her on the field, going after the ball and giving it everything she had.
When she graduated from high school, her prom dress was a departure from the ball gowns popular that year. She dressed in a sophisticated black and fuchsia number that looked amazing.
I was so glad to have her standing with me as my maid of honour when Ray and I married. She even wore a pink, frilly dress. Definitely not a fashion choice she would have made. It made that day even more special having my sister at my side.
Years later we were at a reunion at the place where our dad had grown up. My son Sean, who was 5 at the time, slipped and fell. He hit his head, and I screamed for Lisa. She ran over, picked him up, and started running for the medical tent. I followed behind with Patrick, who was 2. I am so grateful for her quick actions and for getting him to help.
Fighting for a cause
In October 2009 just months after our mom passed away after battling cancer for 27 years, Lisa shaved her head after raising money for cancer research. Every year she runs in the Race for the Cure, supporting research to end the disease that affects so many. I am so proud of her commitment to this cause.
Lisa has been living in Montreal with her partner and kids for the last 25 years. They decided to “try it out for a couple of years” and stayed. She has been a wonderful mother to her two sons, passing along to them her spirit of adventure and love of learning.
The year that Lisa moved to Montreal, is the same year my daughter was born. As Meaghan grew, I often noticed similarities in the two of them. At times I even called Megs Lisa because of the gestures she used or the way she spoke. I loved those moments, glad that Meaghan inherited some of the same qualities from my mom that Lisa had.
My sister and I recently spent time in St. John’s, Newfoundland, our hometown. It was wonderful to have that time, and sharing memories, but it brought up some emotional stuff as well. When I am in Newfoundland, my name is Shelly, but Lisa knew that was not a name that she had used for me. It took me a few hours, but I remembered that to her and our brother, I was Lally. I wrote this piece because I want Lisa to know how amazing she is, and how proud Lally is to be her sister.