Sister to Sister

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Young-Laura and Leslie Booth.jpg

Check out this example of sisterly love. When they were younger, Laura Booth, now 29, snatched an annoyingly noisy toy away from her little sister, Leslie Booth. Then the fight started. A few minutes later, the girls' mom, Joan Booth, heard Laura yelling, "Muuumm!"

Joan ran down to the rec room to find Laura strapped into her wheelchair, which was tipped backward. Laura's feet were sticking up in the air. Joan made sure Laura was okay then burst out laughing. Meanwhile, Leslie had disappeared upstairs.

As in most families with sisters, the stories aren’t all bad (Some aren’t nearly as funny either). Laura and Leslie also help each other with their homework, go to movies together, catch baseball games at SkyDome, and enjoy checking out places like Sega City in Mississauga. And what about the fact that Laura has spina bifida and hydrocephalus? "I don't really care. It's not something I ever think about," says Leslie.

Since Laura and Leslie have been sisters forever, they can’t imagine having things any other way. Their parents, they say, encourage them mainly to stop fighting! Their mom and dad also expect Laura to be as independent as possible. They also hope Leslie will be available to help her sister in a crisis.

Leslie admits that she some­times feels jealous that Laura seems to get extra attention. "But on the other hand," says Laura, "sometimes I feel bad because everything seems to revolve around me."

The girls tell the story about a recent family vacation to British Columbia. They heard about an underwater exhibit that Leslie was really keen to visit. When they got there, however, the family realized that the exhibit wasn't wheelchair accessible, so the family decided to look for something else that they could all do together. The decision wasn't a big deal for Leslie. "I wouldn't even think to complain about something like that," says Leslie.

Joan Booth says that she wants her daughters to be aware of each other's feelings, and to appreciate their differences. Most importantly, she wants them to love and care for one another.

"I've worked hard to help both Laura and Leslie to learn about spina bifida and hydrocephalus, and to provide them with educational materials to help them understand the conditions. I also try to get the girls to open up and talk about their feelings," says Joan.

"I think that, in our family, we have a lot of consideration for other people. That's what we've always been taught," says Laura. The Booth sisters also share a great sense of humour, and a love of having fun. "We fight, but we love each other anyway," smiles Leslie.