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Page 4C NEIGHBORS Hays Free Press May 15, 2013 + 4_ Big Sister Continued from pg. 1C that I was just going to leave. Because everybody else leaves." Sam's dad, the man Rolanda married several years later, and three previous "bigs" all left. Legare said Sam started to think that she wasn't worth anything. "She knew I was going to fig- ure out she's a bad kid and not worth investing in and just bail on her. It took about a year for her to figure out that I wasn't going anywhere," Legare said. Four years later, she still hasn't gone anywhere. The pair spends several hours a week to- gether and often have weekend sleepovers. What prompted Legare to sign up for a little sister? She became a "big" as a way of helping a young woman who was going down the wrong road. It was a road she was fa- miliar with from her own past. "Sam and I always saywe were meant to be matched be- cause I was that same 15-year- old girl who needed someone to stand in her comer even when I didn't exhibit behavior that was worthy of love," she said. Legate recalled her own teenage angst. "l was so angry and I was so messed up. I really didn't trust anybody and there people who were willing to hold on to me even when I was fighting them every step of the way until I finally said, 'OK, I'm willing to let someone love me' and that's what [Sam] needed and I knew that's what she needed," she said. Legare said that first year was rough for her and Sam. "That child tried me so hard," she said with a smile. Was it like looking in a mir- ror? "It was very cathartic because I knew I was pay- ing it forward," she said. "The kindness and love that was shown to me when I was trying to change my life, when I was trying to grow as a person and just tripping up every step of the way, when I was trying to figure out howto have healthy relationships with people be- cause I never had that behavior modeled for me- I knew that I was paying the kindness and compassion shown to me forward." Legare saw a lot of herself in Sam. "Sam was a 13-year-old girl who desperately needed some- one to stand firm. I took the commitment that I made to be her mentor, to be her big sister, seriously. I wanted to do it for a long time - since my early twenties. But I waited until I knew I could do it the right way. And I haven't been perfect and I've made missteps but I've been committed to doing right by her from day 1. And I've grown so much," she said. What missteps did she make? "It's usually when I let my ego and my hurt feelings get in the way. We sometimes forget we're not biological sisters and it's during the middle of a petty fight over something that's happened. All of our prob- lems stem from when we stop communicating, when we stop checking in with each other," Legare said. "She's really emo- tional and I'm really emotional and it's easy to hurt our feel- ings. We literally will just trip up on each other for no reason. Instead of removing myself so I Legare's real sister, five years younger, lives in the Pacific northwest. "We were pitted against each other," she said. "I was not very thin and my little sister Sarah was," although Legare said she didn't really start struggling with her weight until adult- hood. They're on good terms now, but it was a rocky relationship when they were young. In fact, Legare's own family history is a big part of why she wanted to become a big sister. "My childhood was a really strange mixed bag. It certainly wasn't the worst childhood anyone has ever had. I was afforded the opportunity to travel because my dad was in the military. I never wanted for anything, other than love," she said. She continued, "My dad was just a miserable human being and he made everyone else around him miserable. He was really verbally and emotionally abusive. Not so much physi- cally. He tortured me about my weight, my body and in public, in private. Just creel things she's turning 34 in November. She wrote him an "end all, be all" letter after he had a heart attack because she didn't want him to die without telling him how she felt. Her relationship with her mom today is better than it was, Legare said. "My mom and I can go months without talking and it doesnt bother either of us. But we're tight and we're groovy and we love each other," she said. Her parents, who were mar- ried at ages 19 and 21, didn't divorce. Legare speaks of her mom with a wistfulness in her voice. "My mom is just really bro- ken. [My dad] broke her first. After the wedding he changed completely. He was a brilliant, brilliant military man. Fiercely intelligent, smart, charismatic and funny, but he's just miser- able. Something is just eating him alive and he won't deal with it and it poisons all of his relationships," she said, Legare resented her mom for a long time until she realized that "She couldn't protect me because she couldn't protect herself. The only reason I was able to stand up for myself was because I'm half him." Legate said she finds many of her father's traits in herself but it's a catch 22; "my talent in writing, speaking, talent in music and theater - that's him. And then my ferocious temper, my habit of being dismissive ifI make a decision and have no interest in hearing anything else. I worked really hard to get control of the negative qualities I inherited from him. But I'm tough as nails because I'm his daughter." Becoming a big sister has been part of the healing process for Legate, as was finally admit- ring she needed help dealing with her own tangled past. "It was a really long, slow, painful process. I didn't think I could admit ] needed any help," she said. Legare started seeing a therapist about a year ago. "Crazy people are the ones who don't ask for help," she said. Read Part II, Sam's story, in next week's Hays Free Press. Hays[ Count bythe collect Ove nurser accum ofthes ties. Fi I/s rose house climbi fence. We~, mistak This home whitet~ roses a Des] went a it was ( days t~ canes, beau~ Our deer-p roses a found i the sec Sta~ herb g~ that de Making that initial connec- can speak to her calmly, I'll get you would never think to say tion and establishing a bond into it with her." to your child and he wouldn't that ha oresented Le~are witah chal- Legare recalled how they think twice about saying those vor. Ro l'en~es. ~" once had a two-hour text fight, things to me. Waitresses at our ~ thyme, "~Ne would ~o for months "Sometimes I forget I'm sup- favorite Thai restaurant would ies of o without seein~each other posed to be a mentor or a role find me crying in the bathroom Our because she wVould lust cancel model because all I can think because he would have said the wo evervtime AndI'dsa,, OK I'U ahoutis myhurt feelings.You something terrible because he Whi, FOR HEALTHY LIVING w?tet~ FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY MickE also w( Texas a He d 4UNITY, deer-rur~C wri~:zi~ls C]['OSSWO]['(~ ' ~ of nati, .o o u o ut,o. 5YM greatfl i them a butterf ] 9 2 6 17 5] ml songbt I I l l'sl !i !i t thatth, ........... 2 8 4 ofinfo] 1 8 L l.li~li, illi~i 3 ti~] 6 ] *~" i;'ii;i . ..' : "~ tant pk 151312 / andawidelea :tl916 /' fet I I l' /~i "~'~i~;i ~'~~ ~;" "~i ~:~: ~ ~ ~ '~ ~ ~ herbac : INI / I 1131 J- 17[::Niil ] 5 4 2 ] / ~ I 14. 19 18 i~iiii~ii~iJ 6 1 7 / ". E $ 4 8' freeze,CUtl and wa they ha k Texas Crossword, from page 2C ~ J "0 ground spring. 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