I have many sisters. Two were born into our family long before I was. They, each in their turn, left home while I was still quite young for college, work, and marriage. They returned home for visits when they could, which for one was more frequently than the other. And so I grew up in a strange in-between type of situation, sort of like an only child with three mothers, although this is not really accurate. Time, maturity, and maintaining meaningful connections resulted in the three of us becoming quite close, as we remain today, in spite of differences in age, experience, interests, and distance.
Many of my sisters are simply friends, although friendship is far from a simple thing. Younger, older, or near my age, each has something to offer and does so willingly, generously, and often quite unknowingly. In any case, we have a connection of some kind and have formed a bond, an invisible thread that binds us together as "sisters".
My younger sisters are a constant source of inspiration with their abilities to adapt to this ever-changing world. Their enthusiasm propels me forward and enables me to glimpse a future that I may never fully experience. They invigorate me with their energy and activity, keeping me from growing stale and living in the past. Because of them, I remain optimistic and hopeful about the future.
My older sisters have become role models for me, showing me the positive sides of a well-aged life. They have learned the art of graceful living, paring life down to what is truly important and adapting well to their changing life situations. Like fine wine, they warm and sustain me. Because of them, I know that I, too, can make it through this life - one small step at a time.
There are sisters of a certain age - closer to my own - who hold a special place in my heart. For we have, after all, shared a very particular space in time, which others have not. Every generation and each era within it, is quite unique in some ways. To be born female in the same place and time creates a connection which is automatic and intrinsic. Although living in some nine different states, some of these sisters and I now meet every three years or so to maintain that connection.
As a group, our paths first crossed in the early 1960s at a small-town Montana cow college.
By happenstance, we all pledged the same sorority and began a journey none of us could have predicted.
Living together, in rather close quarters, for three years cemented a bond for most of us that has never been broken.
During those years, "the house" was truly our home away from home.
The '60s were years of turmoil and change. Emerging from the cold war with a quickly progressing space program and ever-accelerating associated technologies, Americans were plunged into dealing with the war in Viet Nam, unrest at home with the anti-war demonstrations, the advancing civil rights movement, women's liberation issues, and a whole plethora of illegal mind-altering substances. Then - BANG! BANG! BANG! - came the assassinations...
To those of us who'd experienced a simpler, quieter life before television, stepping out from our newly-shed adolescence into a world ripe with never-before offered opportunities (with equally unknown pitfalls) was an exhilarating experience! Stirring equal rights, birth control, and changing gender roles into the mix created a heady concoction for those of us raised in the smaller communities and rural areas of the West. But we were young, energetic, motivated, and somewhat innocent, so we did more than just wade through. We plunged in with both feet - and most of us survived...
Because that particular place and time can never be duplicated, and because we shared it all and have remained in contact through the years, marriages, births, divorces, deaths and moves, the bond we share is still strong. And so we gather: to remember, share, laugh, cry, and contemplate those now-distant times.
But that alone, I don't believe, would be enough to keep us returning to each other time after time. For although we now have a clearer understanding of where we all came from, we are progressing towards a place we know nothing about. In fact, NO one does.
To age, adjust, and adapt in this millennium will be quite the challenge. But communication in this new age is quicker and easier than ever. If we've been committed and able to stay in touch since the days of those messy, blue-copy ditto machines (if you're younger than that "certain age", this is probably Greek to you...) and snail-mail packets of letters, then keeping track of each other via email and Facebook is a lead-pipe cinch.
We do not gather simply because we share the past, but because we are still stepping boldly forth to meet the future, whatever it may be.
We have loved and supported each other through all this time - you don't suppose we're about to stop now, do you?
What is it about memory that hangs on,
seizes the heart and won't let go,
tranports us to another place and time?