I have two sisters: Hilary, who is 15 months younger than I am and was a grade behind me in school. We were treated as near-twins by our parents…same bedtime, matching clothes quite often. We were addressed as “the girls,” whereas our brother was called by his name. Hilly-Bean, as I have always called her, has been and always will be my dearest friend. She is the kindest and best person I know, and one of my deepest fears is life without her, so I plan on dying first. “If you live to be a 100,” Christopher Robin says to Pooh, “I want to live to be a 100 minus one day so I never have to live without you.” That’s my plan, too, Christopher Robin.
Hilary has spent time in France, lived in Germany for a year, New Hampshire, Iowa, Seattle, Georgia, Connecticut, and back to New Hampshire. She was far more adventuresome than I was as a youth. During her stint in Connecticut, her daughters were small—Claire was a preschooler, and Livvie was a toddler prone to some dramatic nighttime screaming bouts (sorry, Liv). Hil never lost her patience. I remember when, finally after an especially long battle for bedtime, Hilary came downstairs, exhausted, where I was sitting. “You’re the best mother I’ve ever seen,” I told her. It’s true to this day. She is simply the best, purest, kindest person I know.
Hilary never fails to put her two daughters first, to gently offer advice, to shine with pride at their accomplishments. I can’t remember her ever losing her temper with them. She loves them so thoroughly, so deeply and with such gentleness that it’s truly humbling to see. They are very lucky girls, my sweet nieces, to have such a mama.
My other sister is Jackie, my brother’s ex-wife. When they were married, Jackie used to joke that if she and my brother ever split up, she was getting us in the divorce. Turned out not to be a joke, and our family couldn’t be happier or more grateful. She is a stellar aunt, the kind who always gave the best presents on birthdays. Jackie is one of the happiest people I know, despite the difficulties she’s faced (and conquered) in life. She is pure sunshine, always smiling, so funny. Everyone wants to be her friend as quickly as possible. She is especially close with the Princess, and during Flannery’s childhood, when a person might say, “I wish I had a daughter like that,” she’d say, “Get in line, pal. I was here first.”
When Jackie was pregnant, she asked me to be with her in the labor and delivery room. It was one of the greatest honors of my life, watching Graham come into the world. As a mom, she is nearly perfect—both my sisters are, in my eyes—and despite the rocky years with my brother, Jackie kept Graham first in her heart and her life. He is such a wonderful kid, now 18 and finishing his first year of college, and I give her all the credit for his personality, humor and intelligence. A couple of years ago, someone asked Jackie if I was her sister-in-law, and she said, “We just go by sisters now.” How I love that! That’s how I introduce her, and only explain the non-biological relationship when pressed.
Happy Mother’s Day, my beautiful sisters! I can’t wait till the three of us are together again, and I love you with all my heart!