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Tuesday, June 7, 2016


Barbara Brett’s publishing career includes stints as the editor of popular women's magazines and publisher of Avalon Books and her own nonfiction company. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

Time to Remember

In the movie The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews sings the sweet, memory-evoking song, "My Favorite Things." Though her list is long, not one item on it is a clock. But a little ceramic clock, just three inches in diameter, is one of my favorite things. Five years ago, my sister gave it to me for my birthday, and it has had a place of honor on my desk ever since. I wish I could take a picture of it to show you, but, alas, I'm not that computer savvy, so I'll try to describe it. It's a lovely pale yellow, and surrounding the clock's face is a garland of buttercups and forget-me-nots. Above the garland is a Harriet Beecher Stowe quotation: "The past, present and future are really one: they are today."

I couldn't resist teasing my sister by asking, "Is this to be a reminder of how fast my life is flying by?"

She laughed, and said, "No. Whatever your age, you'll always be my little sister. I bought it because it reminded me of you. I knew you'd love it."

She was right, of course. I did love the clock, as she knew I would. That's the way it is with sisters: they share all our early yesterdays and probably know us better than anyone else in the world. We grow up sharing thoughts and secrets and hopes and dreams, and we think it will go on forever. Sometimes it does. Tragically, sometimes it doesn't. Two years after my sister gave me the clock, the MS that she had been courageously battling for years finally won its brutal war.

Of course, nothing can ever really take my sister from me. She's always with me in my heart, and in my memories of the good times we shared and the sad times she helped me through, of the way she protected me when we were growing up and gave me the courage to pursue my dreams. And every day when I sit down at my desk, I look at my little clock and smile, remembering her and how happy we were the day she gave it to me. Harriet Beecher Stowe was right: past, present and future are today. That means my bright, wise and loving big sister is not just a part of my past. Her love and laughter and wisdom surround me in the present and will be with me through every second, minute and hour of all the days to come.

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Barbara Brett said...

Thanks for inviting me to share my thoughts, Lois. I'd love to learn what your readers think about sisters and time!

Radine Trees Nehring said...

I had no sisters until I was at least 60. After my brother died his second wife, whom I did not know well until then, became my closest friend. She, grieving, seemed to need my husband and me as loving friends, and the three of us became very close. When she re-married a couple of years later, her new husband became our "brother-in-law," and she remained our sister, seen frequently even after we moved out of the state. The only problem we dealt with came up when people outside our circle didn't understand our true family relationship when we'd confused them by using familial terms for two people who were no blood relation.

Recently I met another mature woman (at church) and we "hit it off." Her mobility was limited years ago (by polio, I believe) so I don't see her often, but we e-mail as "Sis" and "Sib," sharing recipes and much more.

Confidences abound with both my late-in-life sisters, and I feel blessed. So--it's never too late!

Thanks for sharing the love you and your sister shared, Barbara.

Barbara Brett said...

What a lovely story! Thanks for sharing it, Radine. I, too, am blessed with "sisters" who are not related to me by blood, but with whom I share a special, loving bond. None can replace my true sister, but all add special love, understanding and warmth to my life.

Angela Adams said...

Barbara and Radine, thank you for sharing your stories.

Carly Carson said...

I have 2 sisters and we're very close. I also have several sisters-in-law. I was shopping with 3 of them last Saturday. I said to a guy demonstrating his chimchirry (? something like that): "These women are all my sisters-in-law. Well, some of them." He said, "You have more?" and I realized, wow, I am lucky. These aren't even all of my sisters-in-law. It was kind of a revelation. It's nice to have family.

Beverley Eikli aka Beverley Oakley said...

Thank you for your story. I'm sorry your sister is no longer with you, physically but it was lovely to read how much she's in your heart. It reinforced how lucky I am to have my two wonderful sisters and three fabulous sisters-in-law.

Barbara Brett said...

Thanks, Angela, Carly and Beverley for sharing your thoughts. Sisters, whether by blood, marriage, or friendship are one of life's blessings. Let's treasure them all!