• mbgarvey

Sisterhood, Crazy Kate & an Abundance of Gratitude

In my last post (some time ago), I promised the next thing I wrote about would not contain any of the 2020 content we are all so weary of, but instead would reflect something I am unconditionally grateful for. Something that brings joy, that orients me to the best in things, and routinely helps me walk a little taller, feel a little more optimistic about the world around me, and access my strengths, however compromised they may be at the time.

It is simply this: Sisterhood. My sister, Katy. Weirdo. Conspirator. Confidante. My go to on all things, big and small.

Sisters fundamentally shape who we are. They are our stories and our histories. Our shared experiences reinforced our connectedness and our rivalries helped us separate and define ourselves independently from each other. The impact of our childhood sibling relationships is experienced throughout our lives and there are few influences more meaningful than these relationships.

This sibling bond is sometimes complicated. My sister and I couldn’t have been less similar growing up and we spent a good portion of our late childhood and early adolescence in overt and protracted conflict. We navigated life so differently, and we showed up in such distinctly unique ways. My younger sister was skilled at closely observing what I did and didn’t do and relentlessly committed herself to the exact opposite course of action. We found each other maddening, exhausting, and ridiculous in many moments. Yet even in those moments, we had each other’s back. When we needed each other, there were many paths to getting there. Then and now.

People who knew us when we were younger marvel at how close we are now. While our alliance then was loosely based on covering up for each other, sharing wardrobes (not without conflict) and intermittent collusion or misadventure, this evolved. Angst grew into tolerance, which grew into mutual respect, then deep admiration. We are like-minded and inherently different, a contradiction we now embrace. There are gifts in both our similarities and our differences, for each of us.

I count on Katy to shoot straight and hold me accountable. And to be gentle, providing grace and compassion. I depend on her ability to be still and listen, as well as her capacity to challenge my perspective when I have a fixed view. She encourages risks when I need it. She trusts my ability to recover after a mistake or misstep, listening patiently to my self-recrimination and ending it when it goes too far. I am forever grateful that she is irreverent and hilarious (hilarious), and that humor is our backdrop for all things routine and catastrophic. I am thankful for both the generosity with which she accepts apologies and makes apologies, because neither is an easy thing, and in the really intimate relationships there are usually lots of opportunities for both. Especially when we can both can feel and say things in ways that aren't always nuanced.

When my grandfather was in his 90s, I had a conversation with him about a trip he took with his two sons, my dad and my uncle. I was asking him about their time together and he said to me, “oh, all of that was very nice, but I just really wanted to see how the boys were getting along. If they were doing okay.” He was 93 years old and he still wanted to ensure that the brothers he raised were close and looking out for each other. “I think they are doing just fine,“ he concluded. They were. Sixty-some years into their sibling relationship and they were still doing okay.

Fifty-some years into our sibling relationship, Katy and I are also doing okay. I am grateful for how our sisterhood continues to shape me, guide me, and define me. Thank you, Crazy Kate, for the intimacy, humor, wisdom and grit. For being the person who always helps me walk a little taller. I am blessed that you are such an inherent part of my story, of who I am as an adult. I wouldn’t change a moment for the world.

Even if you were super annoying for a good many of those early years. I suspect you just couldn’t help it and I love you unconditionally despite that.


Prayer in Gratitude for Sisters Related to You by Blood

Brian Doyle, A Book of Uncommon Prayer

Even if, you know, they punched you out here and here and there when you were little, which the fact is you deserved a sharp jab here and there; but other than the occasional bruise, which you deserved, your sisters were generally sweet and funny and always there when you needed help and always wry and piercing with advice whether you asked for it or not. And they quietly became dear friends, really, didn’t they? And while you were young it was weird to think that a person with your genetic fingerprints could somehow became educational and enlightening and elevating? And now when you think of your sisters don’t you smile right away and take a long time to remember that sharp jab? So, a prayer for sisters, holy beings all, despite all their incredible misadventures; for they were gifts from the Breath, and they remain mysterious gentle gifts, and they bless us. And so: amen.