My sister and a heavy envelope

I remember it in mental snapshots. Brief glimpses of this or that when I was ten or elleven. And Im sure there must have been much ado in our house back then, what with planning my sister’s wedding and all. But try as I might I dont recall all that much.

I remember the white rental tux with the wide lapels and black pants. I rememeber the Polish-American or German-American club where the reception was held. I remember the cases of Busch beer – her fiancee worked for Busch at the time – stacked there in the family room, waiting for that special day. And I vaguely remember walking down the aisle before her, but that’s about it.

I dont see her in her wedding dress, but Im sure she looked beautiful. I dont remember her at the altar, or running through rice or tossing her bouquet. Try as I might, those snapshots are blank for me.

But I do, however, remember the heavy envelope like it was yesterday.

I dont recall exactly why my sister and her husband were at my parents home after the wedding – I think they were maybe waiting for their flight – but I do recall there being a lot of people there along with a lot of presents. Everyone in the family, it seemed, was there to see the bride and groom off on their honeymoon.

I must have been pissed at my sister, I guess, for having the gall and audacity to leave the family and her little brother behind because I was locked up in my room while the rest of were there all happy and celebrating. I must have been mad at everyone else for being happy that my sister was leaving me.

As I sulked in my room for what seemed like hours – doing whatever it is the pissed off little boys do – I recall my dad knocking on the door and cracking it open to where I could only see his face. He asked why I was locked up in my room, knowing, of course, why. “No reason” Im sure I said.

“Bueno, esta bien, alla tu” I do remember him saying. “But your sister is about to leave on her honeymoon and she wont be back for two weeks.”


“Well, when she comes back, she wont be living with us any longer. She’ll have her own home from now on.”

It hadnt dawned on me. I’d been sulking there for hours thinking about my sister leaving on her honeymoon and how she would be gone for weeks and the fact that she wasnt going to be living in our house anymore hadnt sunk in. Until that precise moment in time.

The sulking quickly turned to crying. My sister was leaving the house. She was just married and would be starting a new life without me. No more little brother to kick around. No more little brother chaperone to try toget away from. No more little brother spitting on the good platanitos. No more little pain in the ass brother, period.

What if I never saw her again? Who was going to take care of me when mom and dad were out? What if she forgot about me? I didnt even give her a wedding present. For sure she’ll forget about me now.

So I, the little soon to be forgotten about little pain in the ass brother, decided right then and there that I wasnt gonna let her forget about me. If I gave her a wedding present, she would surely remember her little brother. I knew I didnt have time to buy her something, but I suddenly got the idea of gift ideas.

They were saying their goodbyes when I bolted out my bedroom door and ran towards my mom’s room. I rifled through my dad’s night table drawer where he kept his bills and papers and things and found an envelope, snatched it, slammed the drawer and ran back to my room. As I ran through the living room I could see they were getting the bags ready and out towards the car.

So I bolted into my bedroom, grabbed my piggy bank and slammed in on the floor where it broke into pieces. I grabbed the envelope, opened it and poured the contents of the now useless piggy bank into it. I found a pencil, mispelled her name on the front and bolted out my bedroom door once again.

My sister was waiting for me in the porch.

I ran up to her, kissed her, handed her the heavy envelope and dashed back into my room where I cried for two weeks.


Today is my sister’s birthday and she turns one-hundred and eig…hehehe…just kidding sis, you platanito thief you. There’s been lots of water under the bridge since that heavy envelope day. Lots of ups and downs, good days and bad days, smiles and tears. But Im consoled by the fact that I’m still your pain in the ass little brother and youre still my pain in the ass big sister, and I love you. I dont think I could say it better than last year:

Today is the platanito thief’s birthday. I wont mention her age or the many many many years that Serpico (I call her Serpico, which is another story altogether) is older than me. But I will mention that I could not have asked for a better sister – even a platanito stealing one. She’s always been there for me when I needed her. She’s a little kooky in her own astrological, metaphysical, Feng Shue, planets aligning, moon over Uranus kinda way, but she’s still my sis and I love her.

She has raised three wonderful kids that have turned out to be wonderful adults and she’s an incredibly doting and loving grandmother. She’s faced life’s trouble with dignity and courage and is always there, punto fijo, whenever the family needs her. Her bursts of laughter are always contagious and this world and my life are all the better for having been blessed with her presence.

Happy birthday, Serpico. And remember, now that youre getting older, your platanito stealing dexterity may be faultering. And maybe, just maybe, Ill get a good platanito for a change.

Happy Birthday, sis! May we enjoy many many more, preferably with platanitos.

PS: I still have the “Acapulco” hat you bought me on your honeymoon.

3 thoughts on “My sister and a heavy envelope”

  1. Thanks to your story the fact forcibly hit me that this 4-year old girl in the news has been separated from her 6-year old half-brother, her only immediate family in this country or in Cuba who hasn’t abused her.

  2. Damnit Val! These are the posts I love the most. They ALWAYS make me cry…GARRR! I hate crying…but I love the sweetness of the salty tears because it means I just read/heard another beautiful story.

    I said this so long ago when you first started:

    You really know how to tell a story. Sigh..damn, you really ought to write a book.

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