Big Sister

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I am about to start my Communications and Public Relations Internship at Big Brothers Big Sisters this week, and it got me to start thinking about my own match with my Little, Denver, who is now age 18.

I’d like to say that we did AMAZING and ADVENTUROUS things together, my Little and me, but we never really did anything on a Grand Scale. Our favorite thing to do was talking. And more talking. And a little more talking. It didn’t really matter where we were.

I met Denver when she was 8 years old. Our first “date” was a trip to the Walker Art Center with Denver’s older sister, Australia, and her new Big Sister (a double date.) I’d say it was awkward, to say the least. I can’t recall what the exhibit was called, but I think the art was sort of pretentious and, well you know, art being subjective and all of that, we didn’t really agree that it was art. One exhibit was a mop and a bucket. Denver cracked up at that one. We had lunch at the Walker and took Australia’s Big (I cannot remember her name) and the kids home. I don’t think Australia and her Big clicked, but Denver and I definitely did, and it began our long journey of Big and Little.

Our favorite Saturday or Sunday would go something like this: I’d pile my two big mutts, Egor and Iggy, into my Isuzu Trooper and swing by Denver’s house to pick her up. I always hung out at her house for a little bit and talked with Denver’s mom, who I really liked a lot. My dogs adored Denver (or Auntie Denver, as she became known to them.) We’d head over to the dog park out by the airport and let the dogs run loose and we’d just follow along, walking the whole length of the park, twice. When we’d go there in spring, the park would be really muddy, and I believe Denver wrecked a couple pairs of nice basketball shoes. Mom wasn’t very happy about that. me & denver

With the dogs then finally exhausted, tired and sometimes muddy, we’d load them up into the Trooper and head up 28th Avenue South to the Nokomis Beach Coffee Shop to get a bite to eat, and then stop by the used book store next door; sometimes finding a treasure to purchase, sometimes not. It was the looking that was fun.

That would be a typical “short” Saturday visit. If I didn’t have anything else going on, the longer version of the Denver-Patti Experience would be all of the above activities, and extend to going back to my house and cooking Italian food and sometimes making carrot bread.

And talking. And more talking.

Here is a memorable, solving-problems-of-the-world conversation we once had:

“Patti, why do white people act so strange and treat our family so bad sometimes?”

“Denver, I can’t answer on behalf of all ‘white people’ any more than you can answer for all African American people. I don’t have the answers, there’s still a lot of racism out there, and unfortunately you and your family sometimes experience it first-hand. But I don’t represent all white people. I don’t know why stupid racist people do what they do. They’re just ignorant.”

“Anyway, Patti, you’re not white, you’re Irish.”

“Oh yeah, that’s right!”

We had had a previous conversation about how the Irish were treated when they first immigrated to America, and that my Dad had experienced being called a “dirty mick” and other slurs on the Irish.

We had lots of other experiences like going to ValleyFair a couple of times, going to basketball games, festivals and other events, and of course BBBS events like picnics, cooking and yoga classes. Denver even came and did radio with me up at KFAI. We also did quite a few bike rides around Lake Harriet.

Denver’s all grown up now – she graduated from high school and is having her own adventures. When she started getting busy with her friends at age 16 and our “dates” started becoming fewer and farther between, she asked me if we were still going to be “sisters,” and I told her “yes, we’ll always be sisters.”

We haven’t talked in a while, but I’ll be catching up with her soon, hopefully.

Just like I do with my blood sisters.

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