Since I seem to be in the mode of sharing some of my published work with you lately, today’s Treasure Tuesday offering is a story I wrote years ago about one of the times my sisters and I got together. “Sisters on Vacation” was published in a collection of family memory stories titled The Rocking Chair Reader: Family Gatherings, published in 2005.
As I read through this again after so many years, I was struck by how much things have changed … and not changed.
I wrote in this story that none of us would miss these get-togethers, but the reality is that for the past several years, my health has kept me from traveling by air. This means I haven’t been able to get together with my sisters for quite a while. That’s a big change.
What has not changed is the constant love, affection and support my sisters and I will always have for each other no matter how much time and distance separates us. In spite of difficulties we have shared in our lives, we’ve always got each other’s backs and are “there” for each other in spirit and prayer, if we cannot be there in person.
To my seesters reading this right now: I love and cherish each and every one of you!
Sisters on Vacation
[Here we are together pretty in pink. Left to right: Me, Nancy, Palma, Julie, Maria.]
I was exhausted after being on an airplane all day, but my fatigue was tempered by excitement at seeing my sisters again. I disembarked and lugged my suitcase toward the main terminal for what seemed like miles. As I rounded a curve in the walkway, someone shouted my name. I looked up and saw my sisters standing a few feet away. I broke into a huge smile when I saw the sign they held above their heads: my name imprinted in huge letters, just like a chauffeur would have.
In the next instant, I was enveloped in hugs, all of us trying to talk at once.
My four sisters and I live in various parts of the country. Two live in the Northeast, another two are in Florida, and I live in northern Arizona, all the way across the country. This scattering of family makes it difficult for all of us to get together in one place, but our annual Sisters’ Vacation is something we cherish, and none of us would miss it.
I’m the oldest, and though fifteen years separates my youngest sister and me, the age difference is barely noticeable now that we’re all adults. In spite of the age spread and the various places we live, the similarities among us are striking. We all have some degree of the curly dark hair that denotes our Italian heritage, and we each have two children. No matter where we go, people do a double-take because we all look so much alike.
A couple of years ago, we decided to meet in Orlando, Florida, to do some shopping and tour Universal Studios, and then travel to Largo to reunite with our parents. We hadn’t seen each other in more than a year and were really excited to have this special time together. We got very little sleep that first night as we shared snacks and caught up with the events in each other’s lives. We’re fairly good about keeping in touch by email, but some things just can’t be conveyed through cyberspace.
We couldn’t wait to get to Universal Studios that first day. Even threatening rain clouds didn’t dampen our enthusiasm. We were happy just to be together. The nasty weather held off for the first hour, but then the clouds opened up and we were caught in a downpour. We were immediately drenched and didn’t waste any time joining the long line to purchase rain ponchos.
What a sight we were in our powder-blue ponchos stamped with the Universal Studies insignia. It took some time for our clothes to dry under the ponchos, but we kept touring the park anyway. A little rain wouldn’t ruin our day, and the photos we now share prove it: five women with dark, damp, frizzy hair lined up in light-blue ponchos and huge smiles.
When my sisters and I get together, we have the time of our lives. People give us amused glances as they pass by because we’re usually laughing about something one of us has said or seen. That’s when we turn to them in unabashed chorus and proclaim loudly, “We’re sisters, and we’re on vacation!”
Even though we’re a close-knit family, life sometimes gets in the way, making it difficult for us to always agree or be completely comfortable with one another. Differences of opinion, distance, and unresolved disputes have conspired to place a wedge in the constancy of our affection for each other. But when all is said and done, we are five women with a common, very tight-knit bond: we are sisters.
[On another sisters’ vacation, we all decided to have our hair professionally straightened. In order of age (again), this time right to left: Me, Nancy, Palma, Julie, Maria.]
We’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how unique or disparate our opinions are. It makes no difference that we don’t all think alike. In fact, our differences are what make us a strong family unit.
On our last vacation, I was the first one to leave. At the airport, my sisters waited with me as I checked in. We shared one last hug, and then I joined the long line to the security checkpoint. About ten minutes later, as I was inching forward in this seemingly endless line, I once again heard my name being shouted. I looked to the left, and there were all four of my sisters—waving, laughing, and shouting my name. I waved back and threw them a kiss. Several people behind me smiled at our unbridled enthusiasm.
“We’re sisters,” I informed them, nodding at the four women who were still waving at me. “And we were on vacation!”
[Our entire family many years ago while Mom was still with us. As usual, we sisters somehow managed to line up around Mom and Dad in order of age. Left to right: Me, Nancy, Palma, Mom, Dad, Julie, and a very pregnant Maria]
[From The Rocking Chair Reader: Family Gatherings. Copyright © 2005 Adams Media, an F+W Publications Company]