- Family and Parenting
Stories of Sisters
The Little Sister
Little sister, younger sis, sissy, sibling, brat, whatever you call her, she is special. She seems to hold a place in my life like no one else can, not even best friends. She skips carefree through soft places of the memory. It seems to be the perpetual curse of the older sibling, like me, to look after the younger sister; a misguided responsibility I even found myself handing down to my own daughters.
My little sister
I envied my little sister. I remember coming home from an extra long day filled with math tests and history lessons, dates and numbers, kids making fun of my glasses and my name, to find my sister under the shade of a tree having a tea party with her dolls… with real tea. I envied the time she had alone with mom and the happy attitude she always seemed to have.
The Widow Group
My grandmother's Sisters
My grandmother was an older sister, though not the oldest in a family of 9 children. She always seemed so responsible and severe but her 4 younger sisters were sweet and playful jokers; so much so that I was not convinced that they were related. She used to tell me stories of her chores: cooking, cleaning, laundry, feeding the sheep and other animals. When I heard that her mother assigned a younger sister to each of the older ones to look after, I was amazed. I guess on the face of it, it makes sense when you have so many children. You don’t want one child having the chore of looking after all the younger ones like my mother did with me. None of them listened to me. As with many large families, my grandmother had to drop out of school at 16 to help at home.
She told the story once about baking biscuits with cotton balls in them just so she could see everyone’s faces when they bit into them. She said she once got a pie in the face that was meant for one of the other sisters, but the pie-thrower missed. My great aunts had a gleam in their eyes and sly smiles as they told these stories; still close friends after all those years. They were still very much a part of each other’s lives until the end. Knowing my grandmother hated to be reminded of her age, the youngest of her sisters would get on the microphone at family reunions and anniversary celebrations to announce that she was 15 years younger than my grandmother.
Eventually, they were all widowed and would still get together each week for games of gin rummy and weekly quilting classes. These visits went on for years until one by one the group got smaller and smaller until this last January the last one passed. They are all together playing gin rummy in heaven now.
Do you have a good relationship with your sisters?
Just like in the video, my daughters were pretty close in age, just over one year apart. When I brought home the little sister, my oldest wanted to hold her. I sat her down and let her hold the baby for a little while but when I tried to take her back to change her I was met with a fit. The older sister thought I had brought a new kind a baby doll home for her and she wanted to keep it. She would often try to peek into the bassinette and turn it over because she wasn’t quite tall enough. Gratefully, I had just taken the baby out before that happened.
One day while I was cooking, I heard my 2-year-old coming up the hallway saying the baby wanted me. Sure enough, she wanted me all right. Her big sister had managed to pull her out of the bassinette and was dragging her by the neck up the hallway toward me. That was a good scare. I made sure we got rid of the bassinette that very day.
Today those two sisters are pretty close. They live many miles apart but call each other often to check in. Nice.
My Sister Lynne
My sisters mean a lot to me as well. Sure, we had conflicts and disagreements but it is best to put aside petty arguments for the sake of family. After all friends come and go; they sprout, grow strong, then wither slowly; but sisters are sisters forever.
My little sister, Lynne, was a chubby rascal. Mom put me in charge of getting her into her crib for a nap each day. Unfortunately I was a bit short for my age and the crib was tall. I didn’t know how to work the sliding side of crib and so tried to bench-press my sister over my head into the crib. Sometimes she helped me by grabbing the rail and pulling herself over, but occasionally she was mad at me or didn’t want to nap so she didn’t help at all. On those days I found she was heavier being dead weight and impossible to get into her crib by hoisting her over my head. I complained to Mom that she was “putting ALL her weight on me.” Mom tried logic saying that wasn’t physically possible to weigh more just to frustrate me. I’m sure Lynne was smiling behind my back. It is funny to think what I must have sounded like to my mother that day.
Today Lynne and I are best friends. She calls me every week and wants to know how I am and what’s going on in my life. She prays for me and I pray for her. Somehow I still see her as that tow-headed little girl under the tree having a tea party. I wish I had seized the moment and joined her for tea with her dolls.
Healing and Nurturing
As little as 50 years ago, women would come together for a lot more than they do today. They came together for births and marriages and deaths, yes. But also, they supported each other by cooking together, gathering food together, worshiping together, taking care of children together, sewing together, etc. In my family, the women of at least 3 generations made a habit of coming together weekly to sew on quilts, work on ceramics and, yes, some gossiping too. It was a time not really unlike the Red Tent experience where women shared their feelings, hopes, dreams and fears and were stronger together.
Today women are a lot more isolated and other than some social media hang-outs, they rarely get together for less than births and deaths. It is an age where more and more anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications are necessary. I have a sinking feeling that it is at least partly due to the lack of women gathering for support and encouragement.
While my sister, Lynne and I were a thousand miles apart, she began calling me once a week just keep connected with her sister. I don’t know if I would have kept up the tradition by myself, because I just naturally gravitate toward isolation and private contemplation. However, gratefully, she kept calling even when she moved closer and I am a better person for it. My husband often asks, “What do you two have to talk about that takes 2 hours every week?” The answer is, WE ARE WOMEN and sharing more than our day and our job. We share our lives, our hopes, our dreams for the future of ourselves, our home, our family. She only lives about 60 miles from me now but the opportunities to see each other are still limited to about 3 times a year. I know I am not alone. Most people don’t get together on purpose even when they live just down the street from each other. We are a generation of isolationists. We are missing the healing and nurturing that comes from getting together with each other. It gives purpose and meaning to our lives, it is the connection that we need to survive and live and create in the healthiest ways.
Get together with your sisters soon. Even if these are adopted sisters, best-friend sisters, sister sororities from college or other places in your life, they are vitally important to your life and healing.