Kickass, the doorstop dog, agrees with the keeper that having sisters is one of life’s bonuses that everyone—including the keeper, takes for granted, and when you have only one sister it is particularly appropriate to pause and recognize what her presence has meant through the course of your life. So to the keeper’s only sister Norma: Happy Birthday and thanks for being there.
As a younger sister—by only a year and one-half, Norma will, of course never be an “old” lady, as the keeper will never completely be an old man in spite of the calendar. They will be kid sister and older brother struggling together through the snow drifts to the county school, or in other seasons, the keeper giving Norma a ride on his bicycle to make the hilly trip.
They will think of high school days, supporting each other’s accomplishments; and the keeper will think of Norma’s gentle efforts at trying to steer him along paths of righteousness and improved behavior, and her restrained disappointment when her efforts were less than resoundingly successful.
Some sisters meddle and grapple with brothers’ lives, and that is their God-given right, but that has never been Norma’s style, and the keeper is thankful for that. He is also thankful that Norma does not hold it against him that she has a scar on one finger from it being caught in the gears of a corn shelling device as it was being cranked by the keeper in Grandpa Helgeland’s machine shed. There are other incidents, like the keeper assuring Norma that if she held a tennis racket in front of her face she would be immune from the effects of the snowball that the keeper was about to throw at her.
Norma does not hold these things against the keeper, but she remembers them because, well, that’s just the way sister’s are. God love ‘em, and Happy Birthday Norma.