Thursday, 11 April 2013

Three Sisters

I am the youngest, by a considerable gap, of three sisters. They won't thank me for specifying the numbers, but my oldest sister is ten years older than me and my middle sister, eight years older.  Being the youngest had a distinct advantage as I came to benefit from the attention that is often the preserve of an only child; but, there were disadvantages too. By the time I was ten, I was, for all intents and purposes, an only child as both sisters had effectively flown the family nest.  My parents had already been through the difficulties of the teenage years and the transition into young adult before I had even reached high school; consequently,  I was often treated as though I was much older than I was. I came to be a solitary child, often with my head stuck in a book, who shunned active childhood passions like horse-riding and swimming and grew instead to like the sedentary pastimes of my older parents - tea rooms, antique shops and quiet holidays in quintessential seaside towns. My adventurous middle sister was making a life for herself down under and my eldest sister had married when I was ten and made me an auntie for the first time at 15. I was left to negotiate  my own way through teenage turmoil and coming of age often without much needed sibling guidance.  I've made it sound rather a sad little life but I was remarkably contented - just a little lonely. I looked up to both sisters, followed their adventures, both domestic and antipodean, and treasured any kind of family get-together.

Here we are circa 1970: Oh the hideous dresses and those sleeves!
Friends, fabulous colleagues, my own family unit (and growing menagerie of pets) have filled any feelings of isolation but I still find myself envious of extended families who live close by to each other and pop in and out of each other's lives and houses with happy frequency. For a variety of reasons I have ended up at the opposite end of the country to my childhood home. My mother and eldest sister live on the south coast of England and my middle sister has long made Queensland her permanent home; she officially became an Australian citizen a mere 30 years ago.  Despite the geographic distances though, as I have become older the gap in our ages seems to have closed.  Perhaps the experience of becoming mothers ourselves binds us more closely to one another and the lack of brotherly testosterone-fired rivalry often makes sisterhood more harmonious. We have six children between us all but my nephews and nieces are all grown up and two years ago I was thrilled to become 'Great Aunt Helen' - it sounds very Dickensian doesn't it! 

Here we are 2013 
This Easter holiday my Australian sister made quite literally a 'flying visit', breaking off from a business trip to nip over to the UK for six days.  Such excitement and anticipation ensued at this unexpected development. Sometimes as much as four years have gone by between visits and I have had only her virtual presence on social media to connect with.  The prospect of real physical hugs and a chance to reconnect properly to both my sisters meant that I was prepared to tackle the long drive down (I'm not a confident driver) almost the entire length of the country; flying at such short notice was too costly an option for the whole family.

What a wonderful time we all had together.  It was special and treasured for my mother too as she has not had all three of her daughters together for at least six years. We reminisced and laughed and I watched my sisters with my daughters as they made a fuss of them, teasing and encouraging them in the same breath, much like they did with me at one time.  Both have endless patience and a huge capacity for love and all of us share the same zany sense of humour though no-one tells a funny story quite like my middle sister. 

We gathered as much of the family together as we could for dinner and the merriment that followed I'll always remember.  13 people sat around the improvised table arrangement in the cosy dining room; makeshift extra seats included an office swivel chair and the table at our end was in fact a cleverly disguised Black and Decker workmate!

I feel so blessed to have sisters and I hope my girls will benefit from the same sisterly bond.  We are at different stages in our lives, live in different countries and lead very different lives but we are all part of the same loving family and blood, as they say, is thicker than water.

My girls with their glamorous Aussie aunt

This post is linking up with Suzanne at 3 Children and It for Oldies but Goodies blog hop.


  1. You are so lucky to have sisters, I only have a brother and my husband is one of 3 boys and now I have 3 sons! Hoping for a granddaughter one day! Julie x

  2. Thank you Julie - I'm sure all those men in your life will come in useful! My poor husband ends up doing more than his fair share of manual labour!

  3. I so enjoyed reading this. Heart-warming, inspiring & thoughtful. It's interesting the way family history writes itself and even when families are no longer geographically close, when opportunity presents connection and joy can reemerge as if there were no distance. What a happy reunion yours sounds! E x
    Ps Looking back at your Easter dec post - on no account let the chick family go! I love them! So sweet and so Eastery!

    1. Thank you for your kind words - it was a happy reunion indeed. Do hate goodbyes though so we said 'see you later' instead!
      I will tell L that the chick family have an admirer and so must be preserved. Helen

  4. popping by from oldies but goodies. I love that photo from the 70s. That is great that you all still value and love each other so much even though you are not all living close to each other. My aunts are miles away in different countries and since my mum died I have felt 'closer' to them even though many many years go by between seeing them. xxx

  5. What a lovely post, thank you so much for linking up to my bloghop. What a special bond you have with your sisters, no matter the distance in miles or years. You speak so fondly of them. Lovely x