When I was a little girl I thought one of the happiest sounds I’d ever heard was my mother laughing with her six sisters. They’d stand around my grandmother’s kitchen, washing the dishes and putting away the Christmas dinner leftovers, laughing so loudly they sounded like the kookaburras that cackled outside my window every morning. My mother’s sister Rosalie—we called her Ro—lived just a couple of miles from us, and she and my mother got together several times a week while my cousins and I played. They colored each other’s hair, shared recipes and gossip, reminisced about their childhoods, and cried together when Ro had her miscarriages. But mostly I remember their laughter and the way my mother’s eyes brightened when she was around Ro and her other sisters. My mother knew a secret then that I’ve only come to appreciate now that I’m a grown woman and a mother myself: having sisters is pretty much the best thing that can happen to a girl.

I am more fortunate than many in the sister department because I have three: Shellie, Shannon, and Charlotte. Each of us is five years apart, with one poor solitary brother between me and Shellie. Of course, growing up I took my sisters for granted and even found them annoying at times. As the eldest I did my share of babysitting and bossing and mandatory sharing and longsuffering tolerating of pesky kid sisters who squabbled, teased, followed me around, and got into my stuff. Once while I was babysitting—and it seemed like I had to baby-sit ALL THE TIME while my parents callously left us to go to endless parties and balls (I’m sure I had to sweep the chimney as well)—I had to carry Shannon’s potty chair outside to the front yard because she refused to take a break from playing to use the potty inside. But since the potty chair was already full and it didn’t occur to me to empty it before carrying it outside, its, ahem, contents sloshed all over my legs and onto the floor. Another time I had to stay home from church and hold and rock baby Charlotte, who had a fever, for two hours straight while she plastered her hot little body to mine and cried nonstop. Shellie scratched and bit me on more than one occasion (completely unprovoked, I’m sure) and even read my diary; I got her back years later by pouring water over her newly permed 80’s hair.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t always appreciate my sisters. But we had our moments, even back then. I always thought of Charlotte as my first baby and lavished her with motherly attention; I secretly enjoyed toting her around everywhere, wrote down every cute thing she said, and couldn’t get enough of kissing her curly head. Shannon had a witty, dry sense of humor and amused me with her sass and feistiness, especially when she told off overbearing adults while I stood there tongue-tied and timid. Shellie and I shared a room with a double bed when I was almost ten and she was five, and every night after lights out Shellie and I would brush each other’s hair out on the pillow and giggle and whisper secrets, long after we were supposed to be asleep. She was my companion during the summer holidays when we explored the wild river bank and spent lazy afternoons at the nearby creek, sunning ourselves on warm sandstone rocks and playing mermaids in the shade of the eucalyptus trees.

When I was fifteen and giddily in love with Elder Teriyan, Shellie showed true sister loyalty by running outside to warn me, while I was lounging in the backyard with my hair in curlers and no makeup on, that the missionaries had dropped by and were at that very moment sitting in our living room. Her warning gave me time to sneak around to the front of the house, climb through my bedroom window, and spruce myself up before sauntering into the family room, feigning surprise. Greater love hath no sister than this.

These sisterly bonds have only become sweeter and deeper as we’ve grown into women. Shellie and I roomed together at BYU after my mission and then settled within just miles of each other after we got married. We’ve chased our toddlers at the park while eight months pregnant, nursed and potty trained together, and watched our children get baptized, graduate, and go on missions. Though Shannon and Charlotte live in another state, the four of us email and call each other; we share parenting tips and relationship tips and fashion tips (my sisters even staged a much-needed mom jeans intervention for yours truly); we trade recipes and funny stories and childhood memories. We’ve been bridesmaids at each other’s weddings and we’ve grieved together over our parents’ divorce. And, though we sometimes weep together over our struggles, most of the time we laugh until our stomachs hurt—just as my mother and her sisters have all of these years. We are sisters in flesh and spirit, bonded in heart and soul, best friends forever.

Happy Valentine’s Day, sisters of mine. I can’t imagine my life without you.

What memories do you have of you and your sister/s? Did you get along when you were growing up? Are you and your sister/s good friends now? How has having sisters (or sisters-in-law)  enriched your life?

36 Comments

  1. j. vorwaller

    February 14, 2010

    So sweet!
    I remember a story my Mom tells me.. when I was in about first grade, I came to her weeping and she asked what was wrong. I explained to her between my tears, “I want a sister. And I want her my own age!”

    🙂 I had two brothers at the time. (And yes, I did get the sister soon after!)

    I ove the connections that we have with sisters, there just isn’t anything like it…

  2. Marintha

    February 14, 2010

    Oh Melissa! Having sisters is pretty much the best thing that can happen to a girl! I am lucky enough to have 7! We fought terribly when we were young–over curling irons, clothes, keeping our shared rooms cleaned, bathroom mirror time, hot water, bedroom decor, music..but we are so close now! I can’t imagine life without one of them. I wish I lived closer to them and am envious when they get together with their kids and we can’t join them. I am especiallu sad each time they have their babies and I can’t help them.
    I am lucky to have equally as wonderful sister in laws.

    My sweet 6 year old really wants a sister–I wish so badly I could just grant her wish. I feel sad for her that she is growing up without one.

  3. DeniMarie

    February 14, 2010

    I am the oldest and only girl, but dh is the youngest and only boy. What did that mean for me? Adjusting to having sisters–and older ones at that! (We all lived close together at the time.) That was an adventure. Older sisters are bossy, who knew? I sure I was never bossy..

    Yet there are still days when I wonder what it would be like to have a real sister. Sigh, I’m afraid there isn’t much hope for dd either. We will probably have one more baby, but even if we do have a girl she will be more of a “first baby” than a playmate.

  4. Tara

    February 14, 2010

    Way to start my Valentine’s Day off with a good cry!
    I too am the oldest of 4 sisters, but there are only two of us left. One sister died in a car accident at age 15, and the youngest was killed a few years ago, at age 22. I know what a gift sisters are, and grieve for that loss. My other sister is just 2 year younger & we are very close. But she is going through a divorce right now & recently moved in with my parents with her 4 kids. And the depression is causing her to make some pretty harmful decisions right now. I love her so much & want to take away all her pain & make things better! But I can’t & I just try to be there for her & create as many fun, laughing moments as possible.

  5. Shellie

    February 14, 2010

    Little did we both know at the time, but you were doing me a favor pouring water on my new perm. Seeing as I had to endure many months of being called “mushroom head”, anything that made that particular perm last a shorter time was a blessing. Your post is a beautiful reminder to me of how lucky I am to have you three wonderful sisters! (And a pretty great brother too.) I love you, dear sister.<3

  6. Melissa M.

    February 14, 2010

    j. vorwaller, thanks for sharing that sweet story. I’m glad you got your sister, too. =)

    Marintha, that’s a lot of sisters! Lucky you! But yes, it must be hard to live away from them. Sounds like a sisters getaway is in order.

    Tara, I’m so sorry—I can’t imagine losing one sister, let alone two. I hope your sister gets the help she needs for her depression and that she and you will enjoy being close for many years to come. Sounds like you are doing your very best. Hugs!

    Marintha and DeniMarie, I understand that longing for your daughters to have a sister. I have a girl, two boys, and then another girl, so my daughters are nine years apart. I was so grateful when I had my fourth that I had another girl—another daughter for me and a sister for my first daughter! But my girls haven’t been peers and close friends as they’ve grown up. Although I’m glad that they each have a sister, their age difference has made me a bit sad. I hope, however, that when they are older that age difference will be less of a factor, and that they will be close friends.

  7. Bridget

    February 14, 2010

    I’m the 4th of 5 sisters! Having sisters is awesome. Like others have said, growing up with that many girls in one house was not easy, but we are such good friends now and don’t know what we would do without eachother. 4 of us have had our last two kids each within months of eachother. Yay for cousins! It’s been so fun being pregnant, nursing, potty training, etc all at the same time. I’ve learned so much from them. And even though I hope for a boy someday I was so happy when I found out my newest baby was a girl so my older girl would have a sister.

  8. Melissa M.

    February 14, 2010

    And Shellie, you were commenting as I was writing my comment, so I didn’t see it before I posted, but about that perm—lol. Yes, it was a certainly a hairstyle to remember. Oh, the 80’s.

    I love you! =)

    And yes, a shout out to Todd, who is the world’s greatest brother!

  9. makakona

    February 14, 2010

    i have one sister, seven years younger. we were frequently pitted against each other as kids and the age gap didn’t help. every year, our relationship grows, but we’re at completely opposite stages in life, so we have a ways to go.

    but we have four daughters, born within 5.5 years. i love watching them and am so jealous of what they’ll have as adults. we frequently tell them how lucky they are and that they’ll have three very best friends their whole life long. it’s so fun!

  10. Joy128

    February 14, 2010

    My sister is going through an incredibly difficult time with a very ill newborn baby who has been in and out of the hospital and three other little girls at home, but it is just not possible for me to leave my family right now to go help her, and it’s been killing me. I just found out last night that our brand new sister-in-law is going to fly halfway across the country to go be with my sis. Of course, I would give anything for it to be me going to help, but I am in tears every time I think about how grateful I am that my SIL is willing/able to go. I feel so much love for her right now; I can drop the “In law” part. She is a sister, through and through.

  11. Melissa M.

    February 14, 2010

    Bridget, lucky you to have four sisters. And so fun to have children at the same time. Shellie and I were pregnant with our second babies at the same time and I’ll always look back fondly on that pregnancy. And our children are close cousins—I love it.

    Makakona, I hope you and your sister continue to become closer as you both grow older (as I wish for my daughters). And you are lucky to have your girls so close!

    Joy128, I feel for you. It would be so hard to not be able to go help your sister. But I’m glad that your sister-in-law is able to help, and I hope your sister’s baby’s health improves soon.

  12. annegb

    February 14, 2010

    Thank you 🙂 My sisters are my very best friends and the people I feel the most myself with—the most FREE to be myself with. I, too, am very lucky there.

  13. al

    February 14, 2010

    I feel this way about my Sister-in-laws. My own sisters live very far away and live VERY different lives than me. My one SIL lives a mile down the road, we’ve had two babies within 6 months of each other, we’re both members of the church (that helps), and she is my best friend.

    Maybe one day I’ll connect with my sisters, but for now, I’m very grateful for my awesome sister-in-laws.

  14. Mary

    February 14, 2010

    I love this post. Thank you for it! Having sisters is awesome! I have 6 (I’m the 4th of 7 girls) and while we all have different personalities and have all butted heads plenty, and we all live in various parts of the country, they are my favorite people and my best friends. It is always the best when we can get together and do that same kind of laughing you described! I only wish we lived closer.

    (I do have 6 great sister-in-laws as well. So lucky)

  15. wendy

    February 14, 2010

    Wonderful post! I have one sister, five years younger than me. She is wonderful. We weren’t close growing up–I was very bossy–but we are very close now. She is one of my best friends, for certain. I am so grateful for our friendship and closeness.

  16. Selwyn

    February 14, 2010

    Beautiful post, and reminded me of my childhood. My sister and I LOATHED each other growing up, for no discernible reason. The only moments of solidarity we had were when other people were picking on our younger brother, and we combined armies to ensure no-one annoyed our brother but us!

    Thankfully age has mellowed us both out, mostly in that we have decided to love each other regardless of the things that irritate the hell out of us about the other person. That’s been 20 odd years in the making, but it’s been a good 3-4 years since we’ve become closer.

    My sister had a terrible car accident on Friday, and it was a miracle that she survived. To hear her wish me happy birthday each day, and grab my arm to stop me leaving her bedside, is a peculiar and welcome comfort.

    Not that I’m going to let her forget her 80’s perm, or stop telling her when her breath stinks. That IS my job as a sister after all 🙂

  17. Genavee

    February 14, 2010

    I grew up as the oldest girl, with three younger girls. My sister didn’t come until right before I graduated high school, the daughter of my father and his new wife. At the time I was very cross about her arrival, I felt like I was being replaced by my Dad’s new family.

    It’s about 6 years later, and my sister is the person I most look forward to seeing when I get to come home. Even with the substantial age gap and having only seen her during intermittent trips home, I still love her like crazy. There’s something special about sisters, and I’m glad I got mine, even if I did have to wait for her.

  18. Genavee

    February 14, 2010

    oops, I mean younger brothers.

  19. Allison

    February 14, 2010

    I had three younger brothers until my sophomore year of high school, when my family adopted my youngest brother and little sister (5 and 3 at the time). I was overjoyed to finally have a sister and we became especially close in the years before I went off to college, then missed each other terribly when I left. We’re 12 years apart, but I love that little girl more than anything even though our lives are so different. I’m excited for the day when we’ll be able to share the joys and frustrations of marriage, parenting, etc., because while I try to relate and guide her through middle school drama right now, I know she wouldn’t quite understand the experiences I’m having right now.

  20. Blue

    February 14, 2010

    on my way home from church today i had a thought “i should write about my sisters”…so when i do, know it had nothing to do with this post. but this post made me happy in the “great minds think alike” way! 🙂

    i’m excited that both my sisters will be coming for a visit at the end of this month. one lives in hawaii, the other in california. the hawaiian one has a family which she’ll be bringing along. the california one hasn’t met either of the kids, so that will be exciting. i can’t wait for us to all be together. and i guess we’ll be nice and let our baby brother chill with us, too. 🙂

    wish more than anything my angel daughter had a sister. and that her darling brother had a brother. that would have been so grand.

    happy valentines day! ♥

  21. Melissa M.

    February 14, 2010

    Allison and Genavee, thank you for sharing your experiences and reminding me that sisters who aren’t close in age can still be close.

    I’m enjoying reading all of these comments; I love the shout outs to your sisters (and sisters-in-law).

    Blue, you should definitely write that post! I hope your get together with your siblings is wonderful.

    Selwyn, I’ve been thinking of you, especially in light of this post. I’m so glad you still have your sister with you! Sending my love and prayers your way.

  22. Sharlee

    February 14, 2010

    There must be something magical about the “five years apart” spacing for sisters. I have two sisters–one five years older and one five years younger (with brothers in between), and we’ve always adored each other. Honestly, I don’t remember many squabbles, even when we were younger (now my brothers; *that’s* a different matter! :-)). My older sister doted on me and taught me essential things ranging from how to make the perfect mud pie to how to correctly apply mascara. I doted on my younger sister and taught her such things as how to make a whole batch of No Bake Cookies and then hide them under your bed for occasional snacking over the next few weeks and which bad words she must *never* say (I pronounced them all slowly and clearly, so there would be no mistake).

    Anyway, I cherish my sisters. Thanks for this post, Melissa.

  23. Charlotte

    February 14, 2010

    I adore all my siblings, they are some of my very best friends. I feel so blessed to have them in my life. I only wish we got to see each other more. I love you guys!

  24. Handsfullmom

    February 14, 2010

    Thank you for sharing this! My own two sisters are so much older than me that we’re not really close, but I’m about to have our sixth girl, the fifth in our family in the last six years. I’m excited for these five little girls to grow up together, and I’m hopeful that they can have that kind of relationship!

  25. Angie f

    February 15, 2010

    I am the oldest of five girls and my dad’s next oldest sibling had 6 girls sandwiched in between the five of us. There are a lot of women in my family.

    I had a daughter first and then 3 boys and while I love my boys, I was so sad at the thought that my daughter might not have even one sister, since I could not imagine my life without even one of mine. 8 1/2 years after big sis was born, little sis joined us and while the age difference is significant now (newly 11 to 2+), I have hope that they will be close since of my four sisters, I am currently closest to my baby sister who is 8 1/2 years younger than I am. I have women friends that aren’t sisters or cousins, but my sisters and my cousins are my go-to women and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Cokie Roberts wrote a book years ago called, I think, We are our Mothers’ Daughters. In it she talked about losing her solitary sister (she still has a living brother, I think) to cancer. She talked about how difficult it was to no longer have a mutual memory checker within phone’s reach or any of the other irreplaceable roles a sister fills.

    My mom puts quippy quotes on her walls. For a while when we were younger, there was “A sister is a special kind of friend.” During the years when my grandmother would sing the sisters song from White Christmas when we would argue in her presence (really not something most fighting teen girls want to hear!), I took this quote for granted. Now that my sisters are far flung and I want nothing more than for them to move onto my street, it is a remark on the special blessing I feel to have them.

  26. Diann M.

    February 15, 2010

    It is late and I just read What Melissa had to say. As the Mother of all four of them I want to express my joy when I see them all together and the love they share. I even enjoy and endure the teasing they give me and make me feel that I am ancient when I get names and places mixed up and dont know what the “latest” is.I am proud to be the Mother of all four girls and a wonderful son.
    Happy Valentines Day.

  27. Melissa M.

    February 15, 2010

    Angie f, sounds like your girls have the same age difference as mine. I do hold out high hopes that they will be close friends when they’re older. They adore each other right now, but the oldest is in college and the youngest is in 6th grade, so they are in different worlds at the moment. But I’m glad they each have a sister.

    Sharlee, I loved those little stories about you and your sisters. =)

    Handsfullmom, you *do* have your hands full with all of those girls. But how lucky to have all those daughters, and how lucky they are to have all those sisters.

    Charlotte, you’ll always be my sweet baby sister. Love you!

    And Mom, so glad you chimed in. Thanks for giving me such wonderful siblings! And thanks for goodnaturedly enduring our teasing. =) Love you!

  28. Geraldine

    February 15, 2010

    Melissa, (and Dear Diann!)

    As you know, I am the oldest sister of 5 younger brothers, the youngest born when I was 9. My dearest wish all the years of growing up was for a sister. Finally, when I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter, I got a sister, Jo. And then a couple of years later, Nancy. But the problem was they were the ages of several of my daughters, so it was more like having nieces. In the last 15 or 20 years I now have sisters! It is so neat and I am so glad.

    Also, I have considered Diann my sister all these years, and still love her and am concerned about her. I would love to see all of you again. I love your blogs, Melissa.

  29. Miggy

    February 15, 2010

    I grew up with 1 half sister who is 10 years younger than me. We didn’t live in the same state, so even though I technically have a sister it wasn’t the same. We’re getting closer now, but once again we live states away.

    This post is exactly why when people ask me if I want a boy or girl {I’m pregnant with #2} I think they’re surprised to hear I really want another girl. I would LOVE for my daughter to have that special sister connection.

  30. Melissa M.

    February 15, 2010

    Miggy, I hope you get that sister for your daughter—if not with this pregnancy, than with another one.

    Aunt Geraldine, I enjoyed your comment. It’s funny that Nancy felt like a niece to you while she was growing up, because to me she was like an older sister (by only three years!) instead of my aunt. =)

  31. mormonhermitmom

    February 15, 2010

    My sisters and I are all fiercely independent – and therefore we can’t be around each too long. We are fierce in defending each other from others, but we’ve never developed that kind of sisterly bond. Living so far apart hasn’t helped. Now two of my sisters are living in the same town and they’ve started to knit together. When they were kids they had the worst cat fights! There may be hope for us yet.

  32. Merry Michelle

    February 16, 2010

    I loved this! I can completely relate!

    Because my family lived over-seas and moved around so often, my sisters became my confidants and best friends. Don’t get me wrong, we got on each others’ nerves and into each others’ diaries (though no one was tempted to read mine since I would follow them around in desperate search of an audience as I read aloud my “brilliant” prose), but we’d play barbies and defend each other to the death.

    I lived in the same complex with my sister, Danielle, at BYU (Monticello), though we were never roommates (not like it made a difference–we were always together). One suave guy, Jason, tried to date both of us at the same time. Boy did HE bark up the wrong tree (or trees)! He began the semester with a harem of women waiting for him to come home from class, until word got out that he had tried to date me and Danielle at the same time. It all reminded me of that song “Sisters” from White Christmas.

    It’s good my sister and I all have T-mobile, because they are the ones I call the most.

  33. Heather O.

    February 16, 2010

    I have 3 sisters, and I will admit that we do a better job of getting along as adults than we did as kids. I have a very clear memory of my sister coming up behind me,grabbing my almost waist long hair, and yanking me to the ground. One time, we even got into a fight at school, and somebody started shouting “STOP!” I then heard another girl say, “Oh, they’re sisters.” Immediately our fight became insignificant. 🙂

    My daughter has no sister to yank her to the ground by her hair, which sort of makes me sad. I don’t know what that means in terms of how she and I will get along—I often relied on my sisters for information and support rather than my mother—and maybe it means that she and I will be close in a way my mom and I never were. But I still wish there was a way for her to have another girlfriend in the family.

  34. Merry Michelle

    February 17, 2010

    For the record, I wouldn’t mind having a girl or too! Heaven knows we could use some progesterone around here to offset the testosterone of my boys! 🙂

  35. Jenny

    February 17, 2010

    What a lovely post, Melissa.
    There is almost NOTHING I treasure more in this life, than the relationship I have with my two sisters.
    I love them.
    I have always found it rather easy to be forgiving towards them, and reach to them first, when I need an ear, a shoulder or just a laugh. You’re right. There is nothing like a sister.
    xo

  36. tina

    February 19, 2010

    what a blessed life to have 3 sisters. i would love to live closer to my sister. and i would love my daughter to have a sister here on earth (she’s about to get a brother but due to my age that’s it). again, you life is truly blessed!

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