My sisters and I grew up in a two bedroom house and the six of us girls shared one bedroom. Even through puberty and those were sometimes very scary years. We had to learn how to disagree and get over it quickly because, well, you don’t want to sleep in the same room with someone who is pissed at you. My sisters could be very creative and come up with devious ways to get.
It was sometime during the year 1997 that I came up with the idea to hold monthly sister meetings. I realized we were getting older, were very busy with our families, jobs and just life in general and it felt like we were losing our connection. To me, at least, it seemed like we weren’t as close as we once were. Certainly we all got together for special occasions and holidays but we, the sisters, didn’t seem to have time together where it was just us. We’d stay in touch with the occasional telephone call but it wasn’t the same. I missed the talks, the teasing, the laughter, and yes, sometimes even the bickering.
The idea was simple. Each sister would take a turn hosting the sister meet at her home, picking the date and time she wanted. If you could make it great, if not that was understandable. There was no pressure that you had to attend, nothing was mandatory. I understood things would and could happen that would prevent everyone from attending each and every meeting. Refreshments could be whatever you wanted if you wanted. Keeping it simple was better because the important thing was about being together. The hostess had free reign and could do what ever she wanted.
Since it was my idea I hosted the first sister meeting and it was agreed we’d go in birth order after that. I picked my date, which happened to be close to Halloween that year, and from the picture you can see that we were all pretty excited. Everyone agreed it was a good thing to do so my idea gave birth to our monthly sister meetings. Mom had to check out what we were up to and she must have been impressed because for a woman who hated having her picture taken she actually smiled…a little one anyway.
I usually jot down daily notes in my journal but unfortunately I don’t remember the details about each and every monthly sister meeting in the beginning. Years later I would start writing about our meetings and sharing some of what happened when we were together. What I do remember about that first one is that at some point we decided to go trick or treating. At that time my eldest son was living a short distance from the family home and I remember my sisters and I taking a walk to visit my son.
Picture the six of us dressed as shown in the photo, women in our 30’s and 40’s, walking along the road in our witch hats and carrying black cauldrons. From the response of people in their yards and the traffic passing us on the road we must have presented quite the picture.
I can still remember the look on my son’s face when we knocked on his door; surprise and then a “are you nuts” head shake. We visited with him for a while and then walked back to my house. It was shortly after that my husband and brothers-in-law started referring to our monthly sister meetings as the “witch’s meetings”.
Many years later one of my grandchildren actually asked me if I was a Witch. Evidently he had heard his Dad and Grandfather refer to my monthly meeting as the Witch’s meeting. I assured him that if I were a Witch I was a good Witch. That was also around the same time that some of my grandchildren began referring to me and my “Grandma magic”. To this day I have never denied my “Grandma magic”.
Like any newborn our sister meetings have had their share of growing pains. I mentioned that I missed our bickering and through the years we have done plenty of that at our sister meetings. At the time I came up with the idea, my sons were grown and living on their own. Two of my sisters had their children when they were in their 30’s so they had little ones at home at that time. It wasn’t always easy for them to attend our sister meetings with little ones at home and husbands who were busy.
I made the mistake of voicing my feelings about wanting to keep things sans husbands and kids. I believed that they would all appreciate some “me time” with the sisters as much as I did. Evidently that wasn’t the case. Sisters are wonderful creatures, always ready to point out when you have foot in mouth disease. Through the years I have been reminded by some about that long ago opinion and their disagreement with what I said. You see, we all have very long memories when it comes to something someone said and every once in a while words will be brought up to haunt the speaker.
While those early years are a blur what I do remember about our monthly sister meetings is that they were simple get-togethers. The Hostess would usually provide munchies and drinks and we’d sit around the kitchen or dining room tables and talk, sharing what was happening in our lives at the time. Eventually, card and dice games were introduced and more elaborate meals were prepared; appetizers, entrée and desert. When holidays came around we started doing “themes” similar to what I did for our first October meeting and then we added cookie exchanges to our December sister meetings.
For a number of years it did, indeed, seem as though our sister get-togethers were more about playing different games for money and the conversations would be about winners or losers. Certainly there would be brief comments about what was happening in someone’s life but the focus seemed to be on games and what the Hostess was going to serve. Sister #4 started calling our sister meetings “food fests” and that wasn’t a compliment.
That has changed. The unexpected death of Sister #3, Andrea, has deeply affected each of us.
We grew up in a family where feelings or emotions were not easily shared so, while some of my sisters may disagree, I still don’t think we easily share our deeper feelings, not even with each other. Oh, our anger about the circumstances leading to Andrea’s death is easily discussed but we tend to keep our sorrow and pain to ourselves. Our last couple of sister meetings have been more subdued, more like they were at the beginning; no games just talking to and listening to each other. Simpler.
I like talking to my sisters, hearing the sound of their voices, seeing the expressions on their faces when someone says something snarky, the sound of their laughter. Andrea had a one of a kind laugh, especially when she laughed uncontrollably. She’d make this noise like a cross between a fog horn, honking goose and animal bark and the more she laughed the worse it sounded. You could not hear her laughter without laughing yourself, so hard your belly would hurt. Tears would roll down her face, and sometimes our’s, as she’d make funny comments between her gasping breaths and laughter. There were times she’d laugh so hard she’d comment about her false teeth falling out. The last time she laughed like that someone was quick enough to record the sound of her laughter and ours.
Technology is great and has its place in our lives. Facebook, Twitter, texting, Iphones; certainly it was an Iphone that allowed us to record Andrea’s laughter that day. However, I don’t think you should only rely on those methods of communicating as so many do today. I believe we should remember to sometimes personally reach out to those you care about, speak to them, hear the sound of their voice. When someone you love is no longer here will you remember the sound of their texts or tweets? That last thought suddenly popped into my head and stayed there so I’m going with it and leaving it in my story.
I will always remember my sister’s laughter.
October, 2017 marks the 20th Anniversary of our monthly sister meetings. They have not always been fun-filled, joyful years and there were a few times when we came close to stopping our sister meetings altogether. I’m glad we didn’t because I believe our monthly meetings have helped us deal with some very difficult times through the years. The downside of getting together every month since Andrea’s death is that we feel her loss each and every time we’re together and it still hurts. Though we don’t speak of it, we all know that we’re going to be hurting again sometime in the years to come. Andrea opened that door first taking us all by surprise, and while we may want to close and lock that door, life has it’s foot jammed in the doorway keeping it cracked open.
That’s what makes today, the here and now, so important. Hopefully we’ll continue to get together every month and do so for as long as we can.
We may not say the words “I love you” enough or hug each other enough but I know we carry each other in our hearts, we always will, and deep down I believe we all know that.
Happy Anniversary Sisters, I love you all.
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