When my sister Sheryl Sandy opened my exhibition 'Letters to my Father' last year, there was no mention that she was my sister. Justin Bishop, Exhibitions Manager of the Cairns Regional Gallery at that time, had asked for her biography and I had given him her traditional family links and her current and past achievements. I had not added in the fact that we had shared the formative years of our lives together and that by chance or by design this woman, who looked nothing like me, was in fact my sister in all that this term could imply. I had thought that the 'reveal' of this information would add to the impact of her speech and form a link with mine.
If there is one thing that I would change, it is that moment when, in what I thought would be a 'funny surprise', I did not recognise my sister publically at that opening. I left it for her to claim me. Our parents and the colour of our skins are different but that was and is inconsequential. Our interests, passions and lives are now different but that is still inconsequential.
Sheryl is a woman of strength and courage, a woman with past memories that cause internal struggles. A woman of generosity and warmth, who has risen to the challenges within the realms of her indigenous culture and filled a need where she could, becoming CEO of many important organisations. This is a woman represented the state in athletics in her younger day and revels in her role as grandmother at the present time. This is a woman who has known emptiness and fullness, who has risen to be the best she can be as a human in spite of her circumstances.
When asked who my sister looks most like in the family, I simply say that she looks like herself. We are very different but she is still my big sister and I am still her little sister. Time does not change that.