I was raised by a mother who had three sisters and seven brothers. Those four women were extremely close, my Aunt Margaret has passed away but they still miss her profoundly. I was raised right alongside my cousins. Although we are cousins, we are a lot like siblings in the way we were raised as the sisters had no issue in mothering each other’s children. I began to think about this community of women recently. How each of them have poured into my life and shaped the woman I am today.
Women have the ability to shape and influence a tribe and these women certainly did. They were all very different in their approach to mothering but they all had one common goal to make sure we were loved.
There is a strong bond between these women. None of us will ever know the secrets these sisters have kept for each other. They have their occasional arguments among each other but they have always worked them out… among each other. I can call my aunts with a problem even today and the question is always, “Have you told your mother?” They have fierce loyalty. It is nothing to walk into a room and have them all look up from a serious conversation and stop talking. Their topics are their topics. Yet, when I have found myself in trouble, I could run to any of them and find love and comfort and advice.
I remember as a teen, the first person I told I was pregnant was my Aunt Margaret. She gasped, burst into tears and held me tight. Her words to me were, “Don’t worry. We’ll get through this.” Then later after the shock wore off she said, “You big dummy.”
It was just recently when I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor that my Tia Pearl, called me on the phone one morning and said quietly and seriously, “Susie, your mom told us about what is going on. Now I need to hear from you what is happening.” When I explained, her next words were, “Why didn’t you call me?” When I explained she said, “Okay Mija (my daughter), do you need me to come up? I can go to the doctors with you.” At the end of the conversation I heard, “Next time call me okay?”
My Nina Delores handled the tumor news in a completely different way. She sent a card. She loves to send and receive mail. Her card read, “Susie, your mom told us what is happening. I am praying and you need to call or come over. We are family.” It’s the same message, different approach.
From these sisters I have learned to be a friend. I have learned to tell the truth even when it isn’t popular, and to stand strong when someone can’t. I have learned to be a voice when someone has no words. I have boldness because these women were never afraid and I have strength because these women are pillars in their family and community.
I don’t know what makes sisters so close. I’ve seen sisters who are in constant competition with each other. I just know I was blessed to be my mom’s daughter and to have aunts who have loved me generously.
When I talk to my friends about “The Sisters”, they laugh and tell me I make them sound like the Joy Luck Club. I don’t know about that, but I know I have some pretty high heels to fill and I know they have prepared me to walk in them.