Many of you here today knew what it was like to have Stephanie in your life but very few of you know what it was like to have her in all of your life. One of the earliest memories of my life was, I’m in my parent’s basement, Stephanie’s sitting on a chair watching TV, I’m well more than arm’s length away from her and as I’m walking in front of the TV screen, she screams, “OW!” and called for my parents because apparently, I had bit her.
Even though I was about…probably two years old at time and not really aware of my surroundings (I wasn’t the smartest toddler), I did know that I wasn’t anywhere near close to biting her and I just found the whole thing a bit strange.
It wasn’t until I got older that I found out this would happen a lot; Stephanie would insist that I had pinched her and when they asked me about it, I would just smile and nod my head, yes, that I had pinched her, even though in reality I hadn’t. Later on, my Mom found Stephanie pinching herself to leave marks and was able to put two and two together and figure out that Stephanie was faking and that her only son was so gullible that he’d probably admit to the Kennedy assassination if you asked him at the time.
As I got older, when I was going through grade school & high school, I found that it was easy to get out of pinching accusations but it was much, much harder to escape the shadow she cast with her reputation. On the first day of class, the teacher would be doing the roll call and when they got to me, they’d say my name, I’d say that I was “Here” and then the teacher would immediately follow it up with, “Are you related to Stephanie Schweitzer?”
“Do you have an older sister?”
“Oh you’re Stephanie’s brother?”
“Do you know Stephanie?”
Know her? I was constantly being compared to her and to be fair, I should have given warning to those teachers that I was not like Stephanie in an academic sense. Those poor souls were setting themselves up for disappointment.
But looking back at her life, I can see why the expectations were so high to begin with. Stephanie was someone who looked at the expectations and would then try to exceed them. She was always thinking big picture, she was always getting the better grades, always the better athlete, always the better worker and always more prepared to take on the world in front of her.
This didn’t mean she couldn’t be above some real petty stuff; one summer I decided to live with her in Waterloo and when I came home from my midnight shift at 7-Eleven, she was somewhat aghast that for breakfast, all I was having was a bowl of Frosted Flakes and a doughnut. When my parents told her that there was nothing that she or they could do about it, she accepted it, but did not probably didn’t like it.
However, I think she got the last laugh as even today, the dentist will remind me that I probably don’t need to have a cheesecake with every meal as he fills my cavities.
But the dominating and domineering side of her isn’t what I’m going to remember about her. I’m going to remember a young woman who like her literary hero, Anne Shirley, wasn’t afraid to take on challenge that others thought might be too great for her, never afraid to say something that might not be popular with those around her and wouldn’t be opposed to smashing someone over the head with a slate if they pissed her off enough.
I’m going to remember someone who on my last birthday, was in Calgary for a business meeting and insisted on taking me out for dinner and encouraging me to try real Ahi Tuna for the first time, which I really enjoyed. I’ll remember her encouraging me, telling me that she was proud of how well I was doing out West and that one day she could see being a general manager of a Shoppers Drug Mart of my own.
I’m going to remember a young woman with her whole life in front of her, telling me how much she loved her husband and how incredible her two step-daughters were to her and how accepting they had become of her and truly making her feel like part of the family.
I would like to end by thanking God for the small mercies He’s shown us at this dreadful time; for taking Stephanie at her most beautiful and radiant and when she had joy in her private life. Above all, we give thanks for the life of a woman I will always be proud to call my Big Sister. The unique, the complex, the extraordinary and irreplaceable Stephanie, who’s beauty-both internal and external-will never be extinguished from our minds.