I'm a Nicholas Sparks fan. I've read almost all of his novels, and have enjoyed each one very much. While he says he doesn't write love stories (he calls them "romance" stories, I think), they sure read like a love story. Including "Three Weeks with My Brother", the novel that spurred my interest in the adventure with Barbara, my older sister.
She's 3 years and 10 months older than me, and we were definitely of the same generation in our family of four siblings. She's always been smarter than me, and for the first 13 or so years, was much stronger and meaner than I was. But I learned how to deal with it pretty effectively by conniving more to get even with her.
I won't go into detail about our relationship, but I can say that it was a very strained relationship for most of my first 51 years. A dissolved marriage and many moons later, we've discovered that we actually like each other. And we love and respect each other as well.
My discovery of her as a good sister came when she finally agreed to going with me on a week trip to Alaska in 2004. We flew to Anchorage, rented a motor home, and toured around Alaska for a week. I think we both had a ball, and we came to know each other again. As adults. And I found out that she's an amazing person that I never knew. One of my most cherished sets of memories is our week together in Alaska.
Flash forward 6 years, and many "let's go somewhere again" comments, we're embarking on an adventure on May 23, 2010.
When I read "Three Weeks with My Brother", I saw a lot of us in the book. While she and I did not play together like Sparks and his brother, we still had much in common from a family standpoint, which is really what his book is about. Relationships and events of a family with problems, just as every family has some kinds of problems.
As I read through the pages, I kept having the thought "I need to do this with Sis". We are both retired, so we're not in a situation where we've got to worry about work and deadlines. I considered us doing three weeks, but felt that with life as busy as it is for each of us, probably two weeks is about right. And it felt too much like a copycat of Sparks. So, when I approached her, it was for a two week period.
I had decided to ask her if she would go at Christmas last year. I thought I'd just pull her off to the side and ask. However, she made it much too easy by giving me a book of National Parks she had found along the way somewhere. When I got it and found Acadia National Park (Maine), I walked over to her, opened the page to a picture of Acadia and announced "We're going here this spring!". She said "What?". I repeated and added, "We're going to New England". I could then see it sink in, and she said "OK!".
We talked a few minutes, discussing how long we'd take, and agreed to two weeks. I asked her if she had read Sparks' novel; she had not. I pushed her hard to get and read it, which she later did. I hope it sparked the same interest in her that it sparked in me.
We emailed back and forth about dates, and agreed on two weeks beginning May 23, with some agreement that if we needed to take a day or two more, that we'd just take it. We also talked about where and what, and decided that the easy way was for her to look at maps and other information and decide what she wanted to see and do, and we'd do it. I've been to New England and Nova Scotia twice, so I have some idea of what is there. She's never been north of Virgina, even though she's been to Europe 3 or 4 times! So, I'm the chauffeur, and she's the navigator.
Spending time with big Sis is what the trip is about for me. We both love to travel, so even though I would enjoy two weeks of her at the house, going somewhere, with new experiences and adventures will make it extra special. She's an easy traveler (as I think I am), so we shouldn't have any tension over what we're doing or where we're going. As I told her the other day "I'm easy!"
It's funny what you learn about people you've known all of your life. We were talking the other day, and the subject of having a lobster dinner while in Maine came up. I declared that when Gary and I went to New England last summer, that we didn't eat any lobster in 3 weeks of travel up there. I admitted that lobster is not one of my favorite dishes. She responded "I don't like it either--it's too sweet!" EXACTLY!! I think she and I are two of the only humans on this earth that don't like lobster. And neither of us knew that fact about the other until about a week ago. How wild is that??
And I think there will be lots of other discoveries like that along the way. With her being 66 and me 62, I know that there won't be a great number of opportunities to get to know her better, and I want to take advantage of our good health and reasonably good minds while we can. She's a neat person and I love her very much.
Follow us along on our amazing adventure in New England. Hope you enjoy it 1% as much as we will have doing it.