I am the eldest of 6 sisters. With my mother, that adds up to 7 women in 1 house. Thought I’d do the math for you. It’s no wonder my father was a difficult man. Estrogen swirled around like the vortex of a tornado.
A mere 11 months separates me from my next youngest sister. Back then my parents were inseparable. That’s a euphemism for… well, let’s keep this G-rated. One kid followed another. By the time my mother was 30, she was pulling her hair out caring for 6 little girls.
Don’t worry there will not be a pop quiz on all these numbers. I’m not building up to an SAT math question.
My 11-month younger sister and I shared a room. What a psyche scarring time that was for her. I inflicted a litany of hormonal induced abuses on her. And, I was a slob. She was a neatnick. I’d say we were the original Odd Couple except that Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are eons older. Our communication went something like this:
Me, “Get your stuff off my side of the room.” Or, “Shut up.” Or, “Didn’t I just tell you to shut up?”
For her part she very gingerly picked up one of my sweaty t-shirts and tossed it onto my bed. And there it would remain, for weeks.
Before you start feeling all teary-eyed for her, allow me to illustrate how she wreaked her revenge.
I’m driving our boringly beige Chevy Nova to school. As a rule we didn’t speak. Other than, Shut up, or Don’t touch me. I’m navigating the Nova safely along the country road when suddenly, my sister shouts, “Watch out!” And I mean at the top of her voice. She scared the living hell out of me. She perpetrated this devilish deed just often enough that I never knew when to expect it, and so every time it worked like a charm. She laughed, and I snarled. We cheated death many times over, or I was a superb driver. Those were the days, my friends.
We would never have been referred to as the Sisters of Perpetual Cookies, or anything remotely similar. This is a group of retired women who are not sisters by blood, which to me indicates they probably like each other a lot. They are a close-knit group who gather to bake cookies and deliver them to AIDS patients.
At Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day, and on other special occasions, these sisters, out of their own kitchens, bake more than 250 dozen cookies. That’s 3,000 cookies! You’re welcome again, for the math.
For 11 years these ladies have been baking and delivering cookies to the 685 clients now served by the food bank. In recent years the number of clients has risen steeply, not due to an increase in AIDS, but because our great recession has driven more patients to the food bank here in Sonoma County, and elsewhere.
This sisterhood, with names like, Sister Gum Drop, Sister Snicker, Sister Cocoa Nut, and Sister Doodles purchases the ingredients, packaging, and labels out of their own pockets. Cookies, as any parent knows, ok, maybe more moms than dads, but thankfully that’s changing, are a labor intensive endeavor. When the AIDS patients receive their individually wrapped plate of cookies they realize how much effort and time, and therefore love, they hold in their hands.
The best part of this story? Glad you asked. The sisters will assure you they receive much more than they give. They witness the dignity of the AIDS patients as they face death, and that has dispelled much of their own fear of aging, and helped them grow their compassion, though in my humble opinion, that already seemed pretty much intact.
My sister, with whom I once shared a small bedroom, is a supportive volunteer in her community. And, she works 50 hours a week, as a top-level manager, responsible for the livelihood of dozens of employees. I don’t know how she does it. But she does, as do the Sisters of Perpetual Cookies, with good cheer and compassion. This is a shout-out to all sisters, to sisterhoods, and even to sissies.
If you add up every number in this post, what do you get? Well, you won’t actually get anything, other than the satisfaction of learning that the sum is equal to the whole of its parts, or is the whole greater than the sum?
Thanks for listening!