HAPPY SISTER’S DAY
Typically, I don’t bat an eye at any specially designated day that is invented by someone trying to separate me—or anyone else—from time or money.
National Sister’s Day, however, is one I have decided to pay homage to. However, Gail and Suzanne, you won’t get any gifts from me, not even a card. You will get something better.
Let me first extend my heartfelt, genuine sympathy to any reader who is mourning the loss of their sister, and who may feel compounded grief from the observation of this day—without their sister.
It must be what I feel on and around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I wish those two days were wiped off the calendar.
They should be. In my egocentric, the-world-should-revolve-around-me mind, nobody should be able to celebrate them if I can’t celebrate them. When I am ambushed by the Mother’s Day Card display, or the ads for Father’s Day gifts, I roll my eyes and give a strong, glottal teenage-girl “uh.”
But fair, as we all know, comes only once a year, and it may have already left your town.
Today, as I write this, those who choose to are observing National Sister’s Day. According to several online sources, its beginnings are traced back to 2011, when the first Sunday of August was designated as Sister’s Day. I was not able to find any concise report on how it started, or who started it.
Nevertheless, social media—and other forms as well—are promoting it as a day to be observed. So for worse or better–as it has become in our country–if social media reports it, then it is noticed.
I, for one, am observing it. I have two great reasons to do so.
The sun smiles down on Gail and me, and the moon is smiling upon Suzanne and me.
I will not see either of my sisters today, but I will call them to let them know how glad I am they are my sisters.
* I will tell them how much fun I have with them when we travel, or when we get together for any reason.
* I will tell them I couldn’t have hand-picked two finer sisters if it were up to me to choose.
*I will tell them I cherish all the memories we made as children, and especially as adults.
*I will tell them how much I appreciate that they accept me for who I am; faults, foibles, foolishness and all.
*I will tell them that I couldn’t have survived the loss of our parents without them.
*I will tell them that I love them.
They likely know all this already, but I need to tell them again.
My mother had three sisters, and no brothers. She had a unique relationship with each of them because of a series of events in her young life. Her older sister, Jeanne, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma—cancer in both retinas—at 18 months of age. This was in the mid 1930’s. Her eyes were removed, and she was not expected to live a long and full life, yet she did.
She went The Kansas School For The Blind in Kansas City, so she was gone most of the time. Their mother passed away when our mother was eight, which would have made Jeanne about 11. Their father remarried a wonderful woman named Madeline when Mom was a teenager, who became the only grandmother we ever knew because our dad was an only child, and his mother died when he was eight as well.
In the last few years, I found out just how excited Mom was to have a new mother. She wrote in a journal as an adult, reflecting back on her excitement about her dad’s new wife. She was so impatient at the prospect of getting another brother or sister, and she started a rumor that she was indeed getting one. That fact had yet to be established, but Mom yearned for a sister.
She got two more. Reitha arrived when she was 17, and Sharon came two years later.
They became our cool, younger aunts, only 10 and 12 years older than me. They would often make the 3-hour trip to our farm from Wichita. Jeanne sometimes came along, sometimes she rode the bus part of the way, and we would pick her up.
Jeanne, against medical predictions, went on to marry, have two sons, become a medical transcriptionist at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Wichita, maintain an active social life and play the organ like nobody’s business. She passed away at the age of 71. Her husband continues to live alone in Wichita. He is blind too, but lives independently with a little help.
Reitha and Sharon would first bring their boyfriends to the farm, then husbands, and finally husbands and children.
In my mind, as a child, my mother’s singular role was that of a mother to the seven of us; it has occurred to me only as an adult that she, too, treasured sisterhood.
Mom remained close to Jeanne until she died. Reitha, Sharon and Mom were as close as they could be with three hours between them, and they worked together to take care of their mother until she passed six days before Mom and Dad.
We have honored that bond Mom had with her sisters; they are pictured below with one of our brothers several years ago at my home for an Independence Day celebration. (My 2nd favorite holiday, if you recall.) Left-right: Reitha, David, Sharon.
I realize I am a fortunate woman to have a close relationship with both of my sisters, and for them to be close to each other as well.
I realize this may be more of an exception than a rule for many sisters. I know several sisters who, at best, despise each other.
I realize many of you have a sister or sisters whom you are not close to. Perhaps you simply don’t keep in touch. Perhaps you don’t get along well. Or, worst of all, perhaps you are at odds, and choose to remain estranged.
In keeping with my mother’s last wish, I feel I have a job to do. On this day created to observe the joys of sisterhood, I feel that perhaps, I need to try to be that Instrument of Peace that she so kindly asked me to be (see Peace, Sister posted on 7/16/17).
Perhaps you have no desire to ever speak to your sister again. Perhaps you feel she wronged you past the point of reconciliation. Perhaps you wronged her, and you simply don’t know where to start.
Or, perhaps you have no idea what came between you and her, and has kept you apart. Perhaps she has no idea either. Perhaps you are both waiting for the other to start the peace process.
Worst of all, perhaps you hold a grudge, and have no desire to let it go. As ugly as a grudge can be, it may have become a part of you, and letting go in order to work toward peace would be, well, work. It may be easier to just hang on to it, as wicked as it may be.
But here’s the thing about grudges. They are toxic. Grudges grant precious real estate in your brain to someone else, rent free. They hurt you more than the person they are against. It is as if you are drinking the poison, and expecting them to be poisoned. Further, they may not even have any idea why you are carrying a grudge against them.
Worse yet for you, they may not care. Perhaps they did at one point, but gave up hope. Remember from several of my previous posts that giving up hope when it involves changing another person is a good thing.
In the event that you are thinking, I should reach out to her, but I don’t know what to say, you are in luck.
Because my profession as a speech-language pathologist involves helping someone who is struggling to find words to do just that, I am going to give you a free session, no strings attached.
Because I am a wordsmith with the written word, I am offering below a bounty of words, phrases and sentences to say to your sister, just in case, like my patients, your words are hard to find:
*Can we talk?
*I have forgiven you.
*I was wrong.
*There are two sides to every story. I will listen to yours if you listen to mine.
*I think we are looking at this in two very different ways.
*I know we may never be as close as we once were, but I think we can make this better.
*I know I have changed, and that may be hard for you.
*I don’t want us to end our sister relationship because of this.
*I don’t want to feel like this forever.
*We don’t have to try to be friends, but we need to try to get rid of these bad feelings between us.
*Let’s agree to disagree.
If you need to make peace with your sister, please think about doing it today, or as soon as possible. Help me honor my mother’s wish by allowing me to be an Instrument of Peace, or at least a catalyst. Just pick up the 500-lb. phone already, and call her. Or email her. Text her. Send her a snail mail card or letter. Send her this post.
And if the shoe fits, remember the lyric from that great 70’s song I referred to a few posts ago: There ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy, there’s only you and me, and we just disagree.
My wish for you is that you have a sister or sisters to share the love with today. Just be sure to let her/them know.
Gail, Suzanne, me; circa (about) 1974.
This post is dedicated to Reitha, Sharon, Marilyn, Tracy, Denise, Gwenna, Sue and Tisha, and anyone else whose sister is smiling down from Above.