My sister has had a tough couple of years. Marital rough patches, facing and dealing with a child’s addiction, and other bumps and roadblocks have resulted in many late night and early morning tearful phone calls to me and our other sisters. Last week, a house fire claimed her kitchen and basement, made the rest of her belongings sooty and smoky, severely burned her husband’s foot and left her and her family temporarily homeless. But, the catastrophe kicked the sister-force into high gear. One sister offered her spare bedrooms until a temporary rental could be found. Another took everyone shopping for clothes. I’m playing foster-mom to her two schnauzers. Needless to say, we’re all giving as much moral support as she needs.
I’m the youngest of six girls. My father died when I was a teenager. In the space of two years in my early thirties, breast cancer claimed both my mother and one of my sisters. But throughout my life, the one constant has been my sisters. Growing up, it was like having five extra mothers. They questioned my social life and gave advice on everything from my choice of colleges to my shoe selection. I vowed from an early age that the only boy I’d ever subject to sister-review would be my future husband. Even with a professional job, a master’s degree, a husband and children, I think I was 42 before I reached full adulthood in their eyes.
However, they’ve also been there to celebrate my marriage and the birth of my daughter. They’ve been there through my job layoffs and promotions. They supported me through my stepson’s wretchedly troubled teenage years. They prayed and worried with me while that same boy was deployed in Iraq last year. They’ve attended my daughter’s birthday parties, softball games, dance recitals and school plays, as I’ve done for their children.
Our husbands and children are linked to this bond, but not completely part of it. Our husbands view the sisterhood with a mix of affection and suspicion. “You’re not going to talk to your sisters about this, are you?” they’ve been known to ask. Our children know that the aunts have eyes all over the city – the chances of being caught in a misdeed are great. Our sons, as much as we love them, stand on the periphery with our husbands. As our daughters grow up, though, they’re gradually brought in. We are strong, educated, smart, funny, competent women. We are a force to be reckoned with.
I have many core values and beliefs in my life. But at the very foundation of all of them is the strength of sisterhood. I believe in my sisters.