This is not a picture of my sister and me

A week or so ago, I ambled through a lovely antique store in SW Florida. Everything was organized and displayed with genuine care, not at all jumbled and random as many such places can be. It felt like the shop owner had bestowed a kind of gentle honor on all these vestiges of other people’s lives.

Awkward poseI was drawn to a basket of old pictures and postcards. It was enchanting . . . but a little sad. These precious (at one time) family mementos were now items of little value beyond curiosity and a bit of speculation.

Postcards from the early 1900s conveyed greetings from far flung destinations like New York City, Sweden, and Holland (not the one in Michigan) to loved ones back home in small towns . . . news of stagecoaches, difficult people, and homesickness all written in careful script.

One dear lady worried in her postcard about three one dollar bills she had misplaced before she left and gave instructions for what to do with the money if it was found.

Long forgotten people from generations past looked back at me, some in awkward poses, some appearing miserably sad, some wrapped in loving embraces. There was even the random shot of a cow – possibly someone’s prized heifer, groomed as if on its way to a county fair.

As I thumbed through the old photos, I came across this oneNot my sister and meand thought, “This could have been my sister and me, had we lived during my grandmother’s day.” And that got me to thinking …

Sisters. What a unique relationship.

Though I am the oldest by a little over a year (just ask her), my only sister and I have always been mistaken for twins. We live hundreds of miles apart now as adults, but even now when we’re together, we quickly find ourselves responding to questions in unison (my brother says it’s like stereo) and sharing opinions on important topics.

I used to say my mother was the one person in the world who loved my daughter as much as I did. After she died, I felt bereft and impoverished at the loss of that love. But I now know my sister is that person, too. She loves my daughter as though she were her own and has walked alongside me through all the stages of parenthood: the joys, the heartbreaks, the hopes, the fears. She understands my “mama tears” and cries at goodbye just like I do. She knows me better than anyone and still loves me.

There is no one I trust more readily, no one I run to more quickly, no one I confide in more completely than my sister. I shared my childhood with her. I’ve shared deep grief with her. I will always share my daughter with her.

A simple stroll through an antique store and I was awash in all of that.

So no, technically this is not a picture of my sister and me. But in a way, it kind of is.

About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

14 thoughts on “This is not a picture of my sister and me”

  1. Diane….you are truly beautiful inside and out…I think there is an author/writer inside there as well………

  2. So true!
    As I read your post I became increasingly grateful for my lovely sister, too.
    Thank you. It’s good to stop during a day filled with a long to-do list and feel blessed!

  3. So touching. I was an only child with a mother I just didn’t get. I longed for a sister like yours to fill all the places you describe. It may be why I really need girlfriends now!

  4. Beautifully written. I’ve often wondered about the people in pictures such as those you have written about. I often picture surviving relatives combing through a lifetime of possessions and making choices about what to do with all those photos. I take great comfort now that someone like you found one of these pictures and it inspired you to share your thoughts on sisterhood so beautifully! This might make the guilt lessen as we decide what to do with treasures such as these!

    1. I, too, can’t help but wonder how such deeply personal things end up on a store shelf. Perhaps they were the possessions of the last in a family line, and when that person died, there was no one left to want them. Or maybe there were still relatives remaining but they thought the deceased was a pack rat (hoarder, as we say these days) and the stuff had no value beyond what it could fetch in an estate sale. Who knows. I could spend hours sifting through that stuff and imagining the stories behind it all. Thanks for commenting, Michelle!

  5. What a beautiful, thoughtful post. I have great relationships with my siblings as well, although our age differences make them different in nature. It is sad to think of the many who can’t talk with brother or sister because of real or imagined hurts.

    1. My siblings and I lead very different lives but when a crisis arises, we respond and support each other immediately. It’s a blessing and a gift I don’t take lightly.

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