Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Sisters, Sisters

You know that song, right?  It's the iconic Irving Berlin number that was in the movie White Christmas, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Cluny.

I've had that song—and some others from the same delightful show—in my head for several days now, ever since my husband and I joined son #2, one of his older boys, his father-in-law, and a friend to attend the spring musical at his wife Ginger's high school alma mater. (She had planned to come, too; but the sitter she had scheduled to watch their little guys fell through, so she stayed back.)  This small Catholic school (about 400 students, grades 7-12) is absolutely swimming in talent.  Two years ago, I saw Hello, Dolly!, and I was blown away.  But White Christmas was even better!  The vocals were truly extraordinary.  The leads were terrific—but even some of the minor players who had singing parts were exceptionally good.  (My husband and I turned to each other a couple times, wide-eyed, both thinking the same thing: "Can everyone in this school sing?!") There were about 180 students involved in the production, which included lots of expertly choreographed dance scenes with dozens of moving pieces on stage at once. I wish I could aptly describe how PHENOMENAL this show was!  This was the 32nd Annual Spring Musical at this school, and it is the institution’s main fundraiser.  It is worth every penny of the ticket price, let me tell you.  

My husband and I have a list of must-see Christmas movies that we try to watch every December, but I'm embarrassed to admit that neither one of us had ever seen White Christmas until Christmas 2022, when our youngest son and his wife traveled from Nashville to spend the holiday with us.  It was our daughter-in-law's absolute favorite Christmas movie growing up, and she couldn't believe it wasn't on our list.  (It is now!)

I'm telling you, those high school kids put on a show that was every bit as entertaining as the famous Hollywood movie of the same title.  I wish I had been allowed to take a video of the two young gals who did the "Sisters, Sisters" number seen in the YouTube video above.  Their performance was amazing.  I just can't praise that high school musical enough!

Anyhoo, now for the clever segue—

Speaking of SISTERS: when we made our recent trip up north to check on our Oyster Haven rental house and watch the eclipse, we were able to get together with my mom, and my own two sisters and their husbands, for a lovely Sunday brunch.

Sisters, Sisters...

I am the second-oldest of five, with one brother born before me and one after; my sisters are the two youngest in the family.  Both of my sisters live close to my mother. The older one is about 45 minutes away.  She is a hard-working teacher's assistant and the mother of two sons.  She recently welcomed her first grandchild. My baby sister (far left in the picture), also a mom of two and a Grammy to one, lives really close to my mother: as in, in the same house with her.  

About a year after my dad died in 2016, my mom moved out of an assisted living residence and into my baby sister's home, and she’s been there ever since.  At the time, her health had deteriorated to the point that she literally couldn't get herself out of bed; she couldn't walk, even using a walker, without an aide to help her; and worst of all, she appeared to be suffering from dementia and going downhill fast.  She was practically at death's door, and my sister hired almost round-the-clock aides to help with her care.  I would post a picture of what she looked like back then, so you could compare it to the beautiful, vibrant octogenarian in the above photo—but she would be horrified, so I won't do that. Suffice it to say that you would be truly amazed by the transformation.

And it's all due the love and care she's gotten from my sister and her husband.

*For many years before my dad died, these two were my parents' close neighbors and helped them in so many different ways (with things such as yard work and home repairs--and my sister even used to stop by and load their pill boxes for the week, so they could keep track of their daily medications!).  My dad trusted my sister's husband with what was most precious to him: Dad took my brother-in-law aside at one point and asked him to be sure to take care of my mom if he should die first.  My B-I-L obviously took my father's solemn request to heart; and he in fact was the first one to propose that Mom should move in with them, when it became apparent that she was not healthy enough to stay at the assisted living home anymore.  He's got a heart of gold, that guy, and I think my dad knew this about him.  And my sister...well, there aren't enough words to tell you how amazing she is, how loving and selfless and self-sacrificing.  And she's incredibly organized, too (she jokes that she's got OCD; I say she's just Marie Kondo on steroids!).  She runs an incredibly tight ship, with humor and the most positive attitude in the world.  You have to be an organized person to take care of an elderly parent, to keep up with the aides' schedules, the doctor's appointments, the medications.  There is no one I can think of who could do a better job at all of that than my baby sister.  One also needs to be kind, of course, and she is that in spades; but she is not afraid to be firm with my mother either, if her health requires it. Because of my sister's attention to detail, because of her tireless energy and research, at 88, my mother is on very few daily meds--far fewer than she was more than a decade ago.  My sister is just a rockstar caretaker; she might the youngest in the family, but all of her siblings are in awe of her.

A few years ago, my sister went through old medical records of Mom's and stumbled upon some doctor's notes: apparently, my mother had a condition for which there was a fix, but it had not been addressed.  In the last years of my father’s life, she’d been suffering with Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, and it was causing her to have both physical and neurological problems.  She'd started falling quite often, leading to a broken hip and hip replacement surgery.  The doctor would drain some of the fluid that kept building up in or around her brain, and she would improve for a time; but he had told my parents that if she kept falling, they should consider having a permanent drainage shunt implanted (and this had been noted in her records).  Somehow, however, this had never been done.  We think perhaps that my dad, who was going deaf but refused to wear a hearing aide, hadn't really heard what the doctor was saying. And Mom was too out of it to take care of herself during that time.  But as soon as she got that shunt, her physical and mental health drastically improved.  It was as if overnight, she seemed 20 years younger.  She's 88 years young these days, with a very full life packed with friends and activities.  She has 31 great-grandchildren now, and she likes to read the local newspaper obituaries and compare that number to the ones she sees mentioned there.  (So far, among her peers in the area she's winning the great-grandchildren contest!)

Thanks to my baby sister, my mother got her life back. She and her husband are saints, they truly are.  A few years ago, his mom started failing, too, and they took her in (I believe she's 90).  Both moms live with them now, each with her own bedroom and a shared bathroom between them.  Isn't that amazing?  What a blessing my sister and her hubby are to those lucky ladies.

Saints do live among us!

It's great that every time I want to visit my mom,
I get to visit this sister, too!

To know this sister is to love her.  

Sisters are such a blessing.

Especially mine.

*On April 23, I added this paragraph.  I really hadn't adequately described how wonderful my sister and her husband are.  Maybe you'll have a better idea now!


  1. Your Mom looks fantastic. Yes, she wasn't looking well years ago. Sister's are the Best!

    1. She does look wonderful, doesn’t she? Hardly any wrinkles! And her mind is as sharp as it ever was. 😊

  2. Thanks for making me cry so early in the morning! 💕 I love you!

  3. This post doesn’t even begin to tell the tale of all you have done and continue to do for Mom and your mother-in-law. I could never go you justice. But I thought it was about time I at least tried, here at the blog.

  4. Just read this, thanks to Rini's text message. Lovely statement about your Christmas films, your family, and your very special sisters. And yes, Rini and Jeff are amazing people whose care for their mothers has been exceptional. Nice piece, Laura. Love, Aunt Toni

  5. I'm going to have that song in my head all day!! Love that you all got to spend time together and what an amazing blessing your sister is to her mother-in-law and mom. What faithful examples of selfless love they are!

  6. Love that song (used to reenact it with my sisters!) and this beautiful tribute to your sister's care. Saints do live among us indeed.

  7. Laura, this is absolutely beautiful!!!! My sweet friend, your sister is so deserving of this beautiful tribute!!!! As is Jeffrey Lynn!! Bill and I know that no matter what this life challenge we are currently going through brings our way, your Baby Sister and Brother in law are there for us. Rini even actually came to help me in NYC!! They are our oldest, dearest friends and we are so blessed to have them in our lives. And, YES, they definitely brought your lovely Mom back to her family.!! I watched it all unfold and it has been nothing short of a miracle!!!