Early Wednesday morning, Susie and I set out to visit my sister, Barbara, in Washington, DC. The air travel was free because I had accumulated a great many Southwest points, which was nice, but there was something a trifle bizarre about flying from North Carolina to Tampa, Florida so that we could deplane, wait a bit, and then get back on the same plane to fly to Washington National.
Barbara and I, by a curious accident, are going through exactly the same experience simultaneously: selling an apartment, sorting out belongings, hanging out somewhere during showings, all in order to move to a Continuing Care Retirement Community, she in Carlsbad, CA and I here in Chapel Hill.
Barbara is enormously smart, with a pellucidly clear mind and an astonishing breadth of knowledge, especially of molecular and evolutionary biology. As readers of my autobiography will recall, as a high school senior, she was the Grand National winner of the Westinghouse [later Intel] Science Talent Search. She ended her long and varied career as the Ombud of the World Bank.
I routinely refer to Barbara as my ‘big sister,” which is how I have thought of her all my life [she is three and a half years older than I am], but she was never very tall, and age has shrunk her a good deal. [I was 5’9” in my youth, and am now 5’6 ½”.] Her face has wrinkled, of course, as she approaches 87, and she now walks with a cane. We met her for dinner at a restaurant a block from her apartment in Washington Circle, and as I saw her walking up to meet us, I realized with a shock that she looks very much like Yoda.
It would not surprise me at all to see her raise a single-seater spacecraft out of a bog with her mind.