Monday, June 15, 2009

A Lesson on Sisters

My childhood friend Anne was just plain cool. She was always a little ahead of her game out here on the prairie. Her dad was the judge. There was a big mug on the living room bookshelf from Harvard. Believe me, nobody else had a relative much less a dad who had been to such a big time university. He always said, "Make it a good one," as we'd head off to school. It was like he believed we had a choice to do so.

I remember as a young girl telling her mom how I wanted to live in a house with ivy climbing up the side. "Oh, no," she said. "It ruins the brickwork." It was a valuable home buying lesson I have never forgotten, even though I was probably ten at the time.

When her older brother wanted to play in the U of M marching band, the house was marked off with tape or something the requisite length of the marching steps. He got in, if I remember right. We'd peer out the door or try and eavesdrop on what he and his friends were doing down the hall. I was ever so slightly scared of him.

Her family ate wild foods like fettuccine and shrimp.

Cool parents, siblings and pink bedroom. What was not to love about hanging out at Anne's? There was always something good going on there. In contrast, my house was quiet, dull and -- up until third grade -- seriously lacking in siblings.

I remember staying over one night in Anne's superstar pink bedroom when her little sister Mary wanted to come in and take a look at things. I thought that was great. Why shouldn't our fabulous older sleepover be admired and envied. Anne was not having it. "She just wants to see," I said. Having only a tiny baby sister I had no idea just how wrong I was in Anne's eyes. Little sisters were not to be seen or heard or even mentioned at whatever age we were. Anne and I must have made up shortly because I don't remember going home in a huff or anything.

Anne and I lost touch after school. She's gone off to do something brilliant in cancer research or something while I found myself back here on the prairie about six blocks from her old house where all the action was. It's been a real hoot to reconnect with her on Facebook. She looks amazing and has pictures on her page with another fabulous blond named Mare. "Her cousin?" I kept wondering. Then last week Anne posted another with Mare in an album called "Sistaz."

Huh. Who could that be? Who could that be that Anne was so close to she called the picture "sistaz?" Didn't get it. Did. Not. Get. It. Anne's sister, as we all know, is a third grader we don't particularly like. This is an adult Anne is obviously very close to.

Like a flash my brain opened up to the possibility. "IT'S HER SISTER!! THAT'S ANNE'S LITTLE SISTER!!" I shouted to Brent who had no idea what I was talking about at all.

Life changes. Anne's dad passed away. Her mom and I became aerobic class buddies for a while. (I have her to thank for knowing how to twirl fettuccine.) Even little sisters grow up, and we discover we like hanging out with them.

Mine is moving to Wisconsin, which has been a difficult new truth to swallow, but I understand now that Anne's dad was right. No matter what changes life hands us, we have a choice to make it a good one.


  1. I am sad to hear that your "sistah" is moving away from you. I KNOW what it is like to be away from your sisters. I will be thinking of you both in the weeks ahead as you get ready for this new chapter in your lives. Thank goodness for FB and of course your blogs!!!

  2. Mary Lisa...WOW. I had to read this twice and still have the urge to read again. These memories are so precious and details of which had slipped into my deep mental archives until now. Thanks for sharing your reflections of our special shared childhood moments and how much those sisters mean to us despite the space some of us wanted when we were too young to know better. (= Having been 1000 miles away from my lil sis for 4.5 years while I was in DC, I relate to what you may be going through. As you roll with this thing I can tell you is the time you do spend together will be even more treasured and special. I can't tell you what your shared memories of my family, especially my dad, mean to me. Until our paths cross again...hopefully sooner than make it a good one my dear friend. xox P.S. Look forward to checking your blog I recall from our younger years, you have a way of sharing a story that is so unique and lovely. You continue to hit the mark spot on.