"Don't worry, Bethany," I told my oldest daughter after the birth of her third brother, "no matter how many times I have to try, I am going to make sure you have a sister." That was fifteen years ago; Bethany has three sisters.
Sisters really are that important in my book. Last weekend I was once again reminded why.
My sister right above me turned 50, so the six of us girls gathered near Atlanta to celebrate with her. We drank pots of coffee to coincide with our hours of conversation. We
painted nails, shopped, went to lunch and caught each other up on our kids.
One evening we were laughing about our upbringing. "Did you EVER get a spanking, Margie?" one of them asked (I was the baby).
I assured them I did--a total of three that I can remember, but I'm not sure they believed me.
"I can remember Daddy telling me I didn't need college, but I better learn to type," my oldest sister laughed, adding that they were always afraid to ask him for a quarter for gas.
I had an Amoco credit card, I teased. Well, not really, but I never remember feeling afraid to ask my dad for money. It is no secret, after all, that I had a different upbringing than they did. Not that my parents were rich, just established. And relaxed by the time number eight came along.
It has been a long time since I've talked to my brothers. One of us needs to pick up the phone and it's probably going to be me. Sisters, though, aren't like that.
"Now that I see Mary and Emma growing up together, I am starting to get that sister thing," Captain Fun said to me as I was preparing for my trip.
It's true; sisters have a thing. We fight over the lunch check, laugh with each other, bicker with each other but always, always forgive each other. Mama would have wanted it that way, we agree.
At the Binghamton airport, my four daughters clamored out of the car to greet me upon my return home. After a light tackle they chatted about their day at the mall, lunch at Subway and how they got flip flogs BOGO free at Payless.
Ordinary stuff, yes, but sisters care about that sort of thing just as much as they care about life's more serious issues.
"I don't know what I would I would do without five sisters to share in Mom's care," I remember one of them saying during my mother's bout with cancer almost a decade ago.
She needed round the clock care for the last eight months of her life, and I learned the same lesson then that I was reminded of last weekend: Whether it's sharing a burden or sharing dessert, sisters are there, ready to help, laugh, cry or celebrate.
It is what sisters do. It is what sisters are for.