This morning at El Rafa’s Café Mr. Beers and I were seated at a table next to a middle-aged brother and sister.  When you go to the same place for breakfast everyday, you see a lot of the same people over and over, and you get to know them - sort of.  This pair, this brother and sister, are at El Rafa’s most of the mornings that we are there.  The interaction between them has made me stop and think about the relationships between siblings.

For the past several weeks the brother has been helping the sister with her studies, almost always in math.  Though their speech is half-English and half-Spanish, from what I can tell, she must be studying to take something like a G.E.D. exam, and her brother is helping her with Algebra-type stuff.  Somewhere along the way when she was younger, the sister must have dropped out of high school.  Maybe she quit school to have a baby or two.  Maybe there were financial reasons that she had to drop out and go to work.  In any case, the brother stayed in school and may have even been a coach or teacher at some point.  The skills are there.  He has the patience and the ability to explain things to his sister in a variety of ways, hoping to hit on a method or an example that will click with her.

He usually arrives at El Rafa’s before her.  He starts with coffee, maybe looking at the paper.  After a little while, his sister will walk in, carrying her purse on one arm and a very full load of school work in the other.  He looks up and greets her with, “Hello, Sis.”  They kiss each other on the cheek. They order breakfast, and eventually get down to the task at hand. “Decimals are very important,” he’ll say. “Think about when you get a prescription from the doctor for a pill that’s ten milligrams of something.  Imagine what would happen if the doctor or the pharmacist got the decimal in the wrong place!  You might end up with 100 milligrams instead of ten!”

Last week my sister Charlotte came to visit for two-and-a-half days.  What a treat to have her here!  It was Fiesta week in San Antonio, and we kept her pretty busy running from one fun event to another.  We had talked on the phone in the weeks leading up to her visit, so we both knew what to expect.  It was not her first Fiesta nor her first visit to San Antonio.  NIOSA, The Battle of Flowers Parade, King William Fair, parties.... There would be Mexican food.  There might even be margaritas.  And jello shots?  Well, maybe.

Charlotte lives in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  She is just a little more than five years younger than I, and I do not get to spend enough time with her these days.  She is a pretty amazing woman.  She has found herself in the roles of daughter, sister, sister-in-law, wife, best friend, aunt, girlfriend, business owner, baby sitter, sales specialist  - and she has executed each of these roles magnificently.  She loves playing those parts and she loves the friends and relatives, the counterparts who make those roles come to life.  Our nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews all light up when Charlotte walks into the room. And rightly so.  She is fully committed in all her relationships.  And whether you need help repainting all the doors in your house, or you just want someone to color with in your Hello Kitty coloring book, you can count on having  her full and undivided attention.

If Charlotte and I had gotten our math right on her visit, we would have moved our decimal to the right and we would have had 25 days together instead of just 2.5.  We could have used a few more days.  We needed to sit out on the backyard deck for a while and, well, just sit.  Still, Mr. Beers and I  felt lucky to have her to ourselves in San Antonio for a little while. Now we want to go to Hot Springs.


  1. It seems in the heat of our busy lives we forget our most important things - - including our family. Thanks for reminding me to call my brother today.


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