“The greatest gift our parents ever gave us was each other”
It’s National Sister Day this week and if you have a sister or someone like a sister, it’s a great time to think about your relationship with her and what it means.
I can’t imagine going through life without my two amazing sisters.
But it wasn’t always that way.
I remember when my younger sister arrived on the scene.
I didn’t much like her at first. I was 2 ½ and immediately threatened by the fact that I wasn’t the little darling of the family anymore.
Maie, my sister, bit me once.
She was 2. There was a conflict over something like wanting the same toy and Maie used the only tactic she had…biting.
My mother told me to bite her back. (Parents had little training back then in how to parent…it was called I'm the boss and you do whatever I say).
I remember thinking, “but I don’t want to hurt her” which was the whole point I suppose.
She never bit me again.
Maie and I were the youngest of four...two older siblings and she and I were always together, referred to as the “little girls.”
My mother even dressed us alike. To avoid any favoritism, we had the same look-alike dolls, the same pajamas but in different colors…the same everything.
Mostly we were twins.
My big sister was 7 years older. Cecilia...(I call her Ceya because when Maie and I were young, we couldn't say her name, thus she was known to us as "Ceya").
She became our 2nd mother and was in charge of us while my parents worked in their drugstore. I can’t imagine being a teenager and having to drag around your two little sisters everywhere but Ceya never complained.
She only required two things of us… rub her back and get her a glass of water when we sat on the front porch.
We dutifully did whatever she told us.
And now as grown women with our own daughters and granddaughters, we talk about our families, our lives, our perspectives of growing up in a small town in Georgia.
Best friends become sisters. I have that relationship with a few of my closest friends and they are like sisters to me.
Maie and I live close to each other, Ceya in Georgia. When we text or facetime, we almost always ask...what do you remember about…what did Mother do when…? When did we…?
There’s a way we three sisters piece things together from our past. Things one of us has forgotten, the other remembers.
Why is this important you might ask?
Sharing our stories helps us know who we are and the women we have become. It can also be how we make sense of what happened to us in childhood.
We put pieces of our lives together and remember the good and the not-so-good history.
If one of us is sick or a family member is ill, my sisters are the first to ask each day how we are.
There’s support and empathy with us. Sometimes we offer ideas or solutions of what to do in a situation we're facing.
One real comfort to me is that I know I’m not alone. My sisters always have my back.
Sisters know our worst fears and biggest secrets.
I remember my grandmother, MaMa. She didn't have sisters close by. As a farmer's wife, she lived away from town and was the only woman on the farm.
Yet MaMa made her sisters-in-law her sisters.
With Aunt Sing (yes, that was her name), she and MaMa talked every day about their lives. I remember watching her pick up the old black "candlestick" phone to make the call, asking the operator to connect her.
My mother was an only child. She found her sister in her dear friend, Miss Sara.
Both were working women with their respective family businesses. I have no idea what they talked about but I’m sure they shared things with each other that they wouldn’t have mentioned to others. You can read about Miss Sara and their other friend, Miss Virginia here on this blog.
Everyone doesn't get to have biological sisters who share this common past. I know I'm lucky.
I know too many women who have actually had sisters who were mean and cruel.
But most women, I hope, have discovered that a very close friend is a sister.
We can have sisters even though they aren’t biological but they’re part of our family.
Some children have told me in therapy that their “auntie” is not a real aunt but they call them aunt.
It doesn't matter if you're born into a family of sisters or you have nasty sisters who are not supportive, it’s the relationship between women that’s vitally important to a woman's health and wellbeing. And it's not only possible but necessary to have a friend who is a sister, too.
Sisterhood is unique. It's in these relationships that intimacy and trust occur. It’s during the deep conversations that we get a chance to know ourselves better.
I have a hard time imagining what life would be like without sisters.
I want every woman to have a sister, because, well, because we women need that.
There is so much to say about how sisters can get you through life...through the darkest moments…like divorce, major surgery, illnesses of a child, and the death of parents. They're there for the good times, too.
I can say anything to my sisters and know that they will understand or at least try to understand.
Sisters have the background of growing up together. They have lived together, laughed, cried, been jealous, hated each other, and loved each other.
Who are your sisters?
What do you love the most about them?
Tell that sister how much she means to you.
Share this post with your sister and hug each other if you can.
Fall is a time for us to slow down, to ground ourselves and to nourish our bodies. This retreat is designed to help you stop and listen to what it is you need right now. It's a fun and restorative weekend with mindfulness exercises, morning yoga, an online cooking class with the fabulous Chef Bai, healthy recipes to try at home, meditations and group calls to connect you with other women.