• 70°

The Sacred State of Sisterhood

Sisters are a gift from God. Some girls come by them naturally. Others must find theirs in the world at large. As one of ten girls delivered to the same parents, I have been blessed more than most. The state of sisterhood is a sacred place, no matter what road one takes to get there.

And speaking of roads, ours will converge next weekend when the Caspersen girls meet up for our annual sister reunion. It won’t be fancy. Over the years, we’ve learned we don’t need a resort to make it fun. All we need is chocolate and wine. The truth is we could have fun at a dog fight. That’s because we bring our own laughter. Our sister Cindy could earn a decent living as a comedienne. When we’re not doubled over at something she said, we’re poking fun at our parents. They acted as if life in a family of sixteen was almost normal.

I’m still wondering how in the world so many girls got by with one phone and one bathroom? Momma and Daddy did their best to provide but when cranking out babies every year, it had to be hard. While other families headed to the beach or mountains for spring break, Daddy and Momma drove down the street to St. Joseph Hospital. Their first five babies were born in May.

Raising fourteen kids would be challenging under any circumstances but especially so when the children are stair-steps. From first to last, we were born one year apart. That meant learning to share before learning to walk: bunkbeds, bedrooms, clothing, and chores. The concept of sole ownership was as rare as second helpings at our house. We helped raise each other. That must be why we’re close.

Whenever I see parents hovering, I thank God ours didn’t do that. They let us figure things out on our own. Sometimes, we worked out our differences in unconventional ways. Conflict was carried out in the bedroom. I’m thinking of one cat fight that would have shocked the nuns. Daddy wouldn’t have approved of our tomboy antics any more than Sister Eugenia Ann. For him, we behaved like perfect angels. Momma let us duke it out, keeping her distance as the fur flew. My sisters get credit for teaching me to hold my ground.

Early on, I took our sisterhood for granted. If I had known the value, wouldn’t I have tried harder to give my daughter a sister of her own? I remember the day I found out I was having a baby girl. My heart soared as the doctor shared the sonogram, pointing out what was not there. “You are having a girl”, he proclaimed while our sons climbed up and down the examining table. My husband was relieved. Finally, a girl. The two of us agreed, a family of five was just right.

I’ve questioned that decision many times over the past few years. Wouldn’t a second daughter have doubled our sugar and spice? More importantly, another girl would have guaranteed our daughter a lifelong friend. Ok, no guarantee, but it would have enhanced her chances. It is chance that makes us sisters, but hearts that make us friends. That’s what the plaque says anyway.

In any case, our daughter didn’t wait on her parents to provide. She recruited her female cousins (who were also growing up without sisterly influence) for a group by the name of “The No Sisters Club”. Cousins Claire and Maureen have been there for her in good times and in bad. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Men do their best, but they could never appreciate the devastation of a bad haircut quite like another woman can. We ladies need sisters. We need someone who speaks our language, who will tell the truth no matter how painful. We need someone who will answer the ultimate question. “Yes, those pants do make you look fat. I will now drive you to the mall for a pair that do not.

Whether she comes from the family tree or a different garden altogether, claim a sister. The state of sisterhood is a good place to be.