One of the best gifts

Sister with her bride doll way back then

Sister with her bride doll way back then

“You keep your past by having sisters.  As you get older, they’re the only ones who don’t get bored if you talk about your memories.”  ~Deborah Moggach

Today is my sister’s birthday.  She’s older than me, but not the oldest sibling.  We have another sister who is the oldest of the three of us. 

The birthday girl is in the middle.  When I was born, she was nine years old and our oldest sister was 12.

For most of my growing up years, this sister probably thought I was a pest.  My sisters and I all shared a bedroom, so it was difficult for my older siblings to escape from me.

I followed my sisters around, no doubt annoying them.  When they listened to music on our oldest sister’s record player, I wanted to listen too.  They just wanted me to go away.  I was way too curious about their stuff whether it was lipstick, jewelry, or what they kept in their purses.  They complained about me getting into their belongings.

When my middle sister started dating, I must have sensed it wasn’t a great idea that she date a particular beau.  I distinctly remember hiding the shoes she wanted to wear on date night.  In my five-year-old mind, if she couldn’t find her shoes, she couldn’t go.

Someone once wrote, “Sisters annoy, interfere, criticize.  Indulge in monumental sulks, in huffs, in snide remarks.  Borrow.  Break.  Monopolize the bathroom.  Are always underfoot…”

That probably would be a good definition of what my sister thought of me back then.  I think she did find me annoying, always underfoot, and generally a pain.  And then came the day when I basically ruined the one thing she cherished.

Sister received a bride doll at Christmas time one year.  It was the kind of doll you don’t play with, but instead lay on your bed as a sweet keepsake of childhood. 

She planned on keeping it pristine and beautiful, sealed away in its box, until the day my sister married her Prince Charming.  Then, the lovely bride doll would decorate her marriage bed (hey, this was the late 50’s, things were very different back then!).

That was her plan until I ‘played’ with her doll one day while sister wasn’t home.  Being so much younger than my sisters, I often wanted a playmate.  They weren’t willing to comply much of the time because music and boys captivated their interests.   

So that day, I wandered around the house looking for something different to play with.  When I opened the closet door in our bedroom, there she was – the bride doll in her box.

She was so beautiful in her white bridal gown and veil, but I decided to make her lovelier and play ‘beauty shop’ with her.  I took her veil off and proceeded to comb her dark curly hair. 

Ooops, Miss Bridal Beauty started losing a few strands of her hair in my comb!  The more I combed, the more her curls became non-existent and she ended up with a straight, wild array for a hairdo that was anything but becoming.

I moved on to her face.  She needed a better make-up job.  So I ‘borrowed’ my sister’s lipstick and smeared it on Bridal Beauty’s face.  Suddenly, I realized she didn’t really look better like I had envisioned she would.  I placed her back in the closet hoping sister wouldn’t notice.

As if!  Oh, the scorn of it all.  How dare I touch her treasured doll, let alone positively ruin it!  She huffed and puffed and cried and rightly so.  I really did feel terrible because of what I had done. 

I often thought my sister never forgave me for my naughty misdeed.  I know she never forgot because even as adults, she would occasionally mention the time ‘you ruined my bride doll.’

Years passed by.  My sister married and moved out of the house, just like my older sister had also done.  I grew up, married, and moved far away.   As adults, my sisters and I became very close even though we lived in different areas of the country. 

Through the years, we have always been there for one another in good times and bad.  The quote I cited above ends like this:  “…But if catastrophe should strike, sisters are there.  Defending you against all comers.”  ~Pam Brown 

So true.  And that adequately describes the bond my sisters and I have today.

Almost 15 years ago, my family (hubby, my children, and I) moved back to our homeland.   A few months later, my father and I took my cancer-stricken mother shopping one day just for a little diversion.  Christmas would come soon and it would be the last holiday we would spend with our mother.

As Mom and I looked around in one shop  (window shopping as my mom would say), I saw it – a gorgeous doll, garbed in wedding white complete with a bridal veil. 

I picked it up and told my mom, “I know what I’m getting Sister for Christmas, this bride doll.  It’s not exactly like the one I ruined, but maybe she’ll treasure it like she did that one all those years ago.”

My mom smiled and agreed it was a great gift.

That Christmas, I could hardly contain my excitement.  It felt like being a kid again to see what my sister’s reaction would be when she opened her special gift.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I just hoped she’d be pleased and put that hurt I had caused her away for good.  I just wanted to make amends and the doll was my atonement.

The new bride doll in 1998

The new bride doll in 1998

Sister opened her brightly wrapped Christmas box and she was stunned.  She burst into tears at the sight of a beautiful bride doll and she immediately knew what this gift represented. 

Sisterly love.  The kind of love that sometimes hurts, but always still endures.  The kind of love that wants to make it all better.  The kind of love we sisters have for one another.

It was one of the best gifts I’ve ever given another person. 

And on this day, this best day of the year, I celebrate one of the best gifts I’ve ever received – my sister. 

Happy Birthday, dear sister!



Sisters Three

friends-phone-bed-bite-163112.jpeg“You keep your past by having sisters.  As you get older, they’re the only ones who don’t get bored if you talk about your memories.”   ~Deborah Moggach, British writer

I am blessed to have two sisters, both older than me.  We don’t have a brother; it’s just the three of us.  We’ve always been incredibly devoted to one another and we share more than just familial ties.

One of my sisters lives out-of-state, and when she ventures back to the homeland for a visit, we make sure the three of us have a “Sisters Day Out.”  We take pleasure in spending an entire day together, just the three of us, with no husbands or other family joining us.   And we’ve managed to accomplish this for at least the last 12 years, since I moved back to the homeland.

We typically commence in the morning by meeting for breakfast, followed by a marathon shopping excursion, consume some lunch and dinner somewhere in between, and then in the evening hours, recover in some tranquil spot.  There we just sit, enjoy each other’s company, and share our hearts in conversation.

And today we treasured another Sisters Day Out together.  Some of our friends are cognizant of our exclusive day and the bond we sisters share, and I’ve even heard people refer to as “The Three Sisters.”

This phrase, “The Three Sisters,” invokes a lot of images that materialize in my mind.  My husband, our three children, and I previously lived in the panoramically beautiful state of Oregon.   One of the intriguing geographical aspects of this state is an abundance of volcanoes.

In central Oregon, there is an area called Three Sisters Mountains in the Cascade Mountain Range.   In the picture at right, you can see for yourself how stunning they are.  I wouldn’t call us three sisters stunning, but we are steadfast just like that mountain range.  And there just might be a little volcanic action silently sleeping underneath.  If one of us were attacked by someone, I pity the attacker because we would defend one another with a burst of fiery words, much like a volcano spewing forth lava.

I vaguely remember reading Anton Chekhov’s play Three Sisters in one of my college drama classes.   Russian literature has never been my favorite, but the play’s title always reminds me of my sisters and me.  That’s where the resemblance ends though, because of course, we don’t live in Russia and we don’t have a brother as those three sisters did.

The sisters in the play are city girls, refined and cultured, who are frustrated having to live in a small provincial village.   We three sisters, on the other hand, are girls who grew up in a simple rural/small town area and would be frustrated living in the urban world.

I think perhaps we are more like “The Three Sisters” in gardening.  I’m not an expert on gardening.  As a child, the only gardening experience I received was weeding the garden, shelling the peas, husking the corn, snapping the beans.  My mother planned and planted the garden back then and it was always bountiful.

So I leave the how’s and why’s of gardening to my husband, a city boy who should have grown up in the country because he finds being outside planting vegetation irresistible!  My knowledge of gardening is limited to weeding (still!), harvesting, preparing, cooking and eating of the produce at our house.

But I’ve heard of an ancient method of gardening, which according to Iroquois Native American legend is entitled…you guessed it… “The Three Sisters.”  Apparently, those Native Americans believed corn, beans, and squash were precious gifts from the Great Spirit and were watched over by one of three sisters’ spirits.   Well, I don’t adhere to the spirit part of it, except to say I believe all of the earth, including the corn, beans, and squash, are precious gifts from our great and holy Almighty God.

However, I think “The Three Sisters” method of gardening describes us three sisters quite well.   Corn, beans, and squash are planted together in the same growing area, usually a rounded little hill of soil.    All three crops complement each other nutritionally and physically.

The corn provides a natural pole for the bean vines to climb.  The bean vines in turn help stabilize the corn plants to keep them from getting blown down.  And the squash vines act like a sort of mulch, protecting the crops from weeds and keeping in moisture.   The three crops all work together to protect and nourish each other.  Hmm…sounds just like my sisters and me.

A little research into this method of gardening provided me more information that seems to fit the three of us:

  • “Corn is the oldest sister.  She stands tall in the center.”   Guess what?  My oldest sister is actually quite tall, inches taller than her two younger sisters.  She is and always has been the one we look up to.   She’s the one with the thorough, think it through business-like mind, the one to turn to for advice.
  • “Squash is the next sister.  She grows over the mound, protecting her sisters from weeds and shades the soil from the sun with her leaves, keeping it cool and moist.”  Yep, that does describe my middle sister.  She is fiercely loyal, very protective.  She’s the one who loves to cook for us and take care of us.
  • “Beans are the third sister.  She climbs through squash and then up corn to bind all together as she reaches for the sun.  Beans help keep the soil fertile by converting the sun’s energy into nitrogen; and as beans grow, they use the stored nitrogen as food.”   That’s supposed to be me.

I’m hopeful that I fulfill my role as the bean – binding us all together, providing stability.   I know for certain I do indeed reach for the sun – the SON, Jesus Christ.   And I endeavor as best I can to use scriptural food, my kind of nitrogen,  to nourish all three of us.

Amazing, isn’t it, what God reveals to us through something so simple?

Although… something just now occurred to me… since I am the third sister, I am the one full of beans!

“To the outside world we all grow old.  But not to brothers and sisters.  We know each other as we always were.  We know each other’s hearts.  We share private family jokes.  We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys.  We live outside the touch of time.”  ~Writer Clara Ortega