“Sisters,” column for March 29, 2016

Talking with a sister is like talking with no one else. You don’t have to do what she tells you to do. You just need to care enough to hear her out.

My mother had eight sisters, all different personalities. They loved each other fiercely, fought like cats and dogs and always had each other’s backs.

My sister and I rarely fight. In some ways, we’re a lot alike. We have the same laugh. Same toes. Same love for each other’s children and grandchildren. Same taste for sensible shoes, fried food and bad movies. But on the whole, we’re about as different as two people from the same gene pool, raised by the same pack of wild Southern women, could possibly be.

We know things about each other that no one else knows. No big secrets. OK, a few, but nothing we really try to hide. We share a history, a lifetime of experiences and feelings that lend meaning and context to most everything we talk about, past, present or future.

When one of us talks, the other listens, nodding as if to say, “Amen, sister, I hear you.” I tell her things I don’t tell my husband or children for fear they would worry. Believe it or not, I even tell her things that I might not tell you.

We are sisters, she and I. And sisters are one of God’s greatest gifts in life. They can also be one of God’s greatest curses. My sister, for example, once tried to shoot me. Yes, with a real gun. Why? Does it matter? She claims she did it because I poured a Diet Pepsi down her pants. Which, OK, I did, but she had it coming. Never mind why.

My mistake was pouring the Pepsi at the exact moment she happened to pick up a gun. Her mistake, lucky for me, was that she missed.

You’d think a woman her age would be more forgiving. If you think that, you don’t know my sister. Had she killed me, she says, she would have gotten off scot-free due to circumstances known in the South as “the fool needed killing.” Whatever. Gifts and curses go hand in hand. Like it or not, sisters take one with the other. And they always have each other’s backs.

My sister has always been more of a blessing than a curse. After our parents split up when we were little girls, she told me not to worry because sisters never got divorced.

When I went off to college and left her with three babies and a bad marriage, she told me to look good, have fun and make her proud _ in that order.

When I married a high school basketball coach, she flew out to California, to be in my wedding. Years later, when the coach died of cancer, she put me to bed and made me rest. Then she took me to Mexico, and made me pose for a photo with her and a live chimpanzee.

Finally, when she met the man who is now my husband, she told me flat-out that if I didn’t marry him, she would.

She has always listened when I needed to talk and always said what I needed to hear, whether I wanted to hear it or not. That’s what sisters are for.

But not all sisters are born to each other. Some are chosen. I have one sister by birth, but others I’ve “adopted.” We don’t always see each other as often as we’d like. But we know each other well from all the times we’ve spent sharing what’s on our hearts and in our lives.

When one of us needs to talk, the other makes time to listen, if not right away, as soon as possible. We say what needs to be said, whether we want to say it or not. And we always have each other’s backs.

Everybody needs a sister. Some of us need several. If you don’t have one, be one to someone and hope that in turn, she’ll be yours. Listen when she needs to talk. Say what needs to be said. Always have her back, and trust her to have yours, too.

But if you ever feel the need to pour a Pepsi down her pants _ trust me, it could happen _ just make sure she’s not holding a gun.

Comments

  1. Gary says:

    I had a brother, no sisters; seems like a similar bonding. My wife has three sisters who I have know for over 60 years. I love them all. One has dementia. My wife’s pain during this long good bye is intense and takes a toll on her everyday. The strength of their sisterhood is so painful when it slowly fads away. So difficult to observe as the husband and brother in law. What a strong love they have for each other in their own soecial way during this tragic time.

  2. Shashi Saini says:

    very nice Sharon . I also share everything with my sister . We are lucky to have one sister .

  3. Cherie Crow says:

    Loved your story on Sisters today………..I have one younger and we are best of friends. Not always but more so as we’ve grown older…I don’t know what we will do when our final days come, one without the other won’t even sound right…she lives in NH and I in AR but distance has no boundaries. We talk, text, or email every single day. Thanks, as always, for bring a smile to my face this morning and giving me a chance to reflect on just how very much I love my sister.

  4. Linda says:

    This so describes my sister and myself. Love each other and sometimes get on each other nerves. But wouldn’t trade her for anything. My adopted sisters are from my church family, they are great but nothing replaces my little sis. Another great message, happy I can still read you on Facebook.

  5. CONNIE BURNETTE says:

    I AM AN ONLY CHILD , I KNOW I MISSED OUT ON A LOT OF FUN THINGS . JUST LIKE WHAT YOU WROTE. IT IS HARD WHEN YOU PARENTS PASS AWAY, YOU ARE ALL A LONE. I TALK TO MY HUSBAND ABOUT MY MOM. MOM PASSED AWAY A YEAR AGAIN ON MARCH 27, 2015. THIS IS HARD TO GO THROUGH. I THINK IF I HAD A SISTER WHO WOULD SHARE THIS TOO. BUT I DON’T, BUT, I HAVE A GREAT HUSBAND, PROUD TO BE A MOTHER OF TWO SONS. THREE BEAUTIFUL GRANDDAUGHTERS. AND A GREAT-GRANDSON AND HIS LITTLE SISTER. MY FAMILY IS VERY SPECIAL TO ME, THE LOVE I GET BACK IS AMAZING . I THANK GOD FOR MY FANTASTIC FAMILY EACH DAY. BUT BY NOT HAVING A SISTER OR BROTHER I HAVE STILL HAVE A LOT OF GOOD MEMORIES AND TIME TO MAKE MORE.

  6. Tomas Jerles says:

    Great, as usual!

  7. Sheri Titcombe says:

    I have 2 sisters by birth and a best friend that is my sister. Like you I could tell my “best friend sister” anything. We’ve had our ups & downs..she’s listens and tells me what I don’t want to hear…she has seen me through trials and triumphs…tears and smiles. Your columns always have my “life” in them…

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