Love and Marriage, Part 4: Sisters

As some of you know, I’m in crazy writing mode. I have a deadline coming up, and my life right now is writing and more writing with breaks for the gym and food. By sunset, which comes early now, I can barely form comprehensible sentences, and it’s time for dinner, a TV show, and bed.

BUT—this past weekend, I took a break for my little sister’s wedding. Our newly married daughter and her wife flew in for the weekend, and we went to a wine festival on Saturday,

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the annual Red Bank Battlefield (Fort Mercer) reenactment Sunday morning,

Red Bank Battlefield

Red Bank Battlefield American forces firing the cannon

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The charge by the British troops!

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A casualty of war

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and then my sister’s wedding on Sunday night. On Monday, my husband and I went out to lunch at our favorite Indian restaurant with my daughter and her wife before they flew back home.

My sister was my maid of honor when my husband and I married 36 years ago. I never thought I’d be at her wedding, standing at her side to witness her say her vow of love and commitment to her long-time partner in love and life. For over twenty years, she and her now wife have been together. They’ve built a life for themselves in their beautiful house with their two cats and a dog. My dad did not get to see this day, but he would have been thrilled and excited. My ninety-two-year-old mother was there, smiling—and dancing, too. I know this was an event she never thought she’d witness.

Some people would say I’ve been to two “gay weddings” in the last two months, but to me, they were simply weddings of two couples in love. One is a young couple just beginning their lives together, and one an established couple of many years, but they, too, are now newlyweds. My sister’s wedding was a joyous affair. As they gazed into each other’s eyes, my sister and my new sister-in-law said their vows. Family and friends surrounded them in a love cocoon from which they emerged transformed, married. We cried tears of joy, and laughed and cheered as they broke the glass.

Sunday morning had dawned blustery and cold. My daughter, her wife, and I walked to the battlefield. I’m writing an encyclopedia of daily life during the American Revolution—it was a weird and wonderful seeing people dressed in the clothing of the period I’ve been writing about. We took a tour of the Whitall House. I wondered what the strong Quaker woman who had lived there over two hundred years ago would have said about two women marrying. She was a woman who spoke her mind—I’ve no doubt that she would have had an opinion. Despite being morally opposed to war, she cared for wounded soldiers in her home. Perhaps she would have disapproved of a same sex marriage (a concept that she would not even have considered), but I like to think she’d recognize the love in the hearts of those committing to a life together. My daughter and her wife glow, and everyone around them feels their love. The beating of the drums that day on the battlefield marked the rhythm of soldiers and battles. The hearts that bled out that day—and stopped–had been hearts that loved and had been loved.

Sunday evening was filled with warmth. Hearts beat excitedly with anticipation and were filled with love. I got to see my sister married, something remarkable, simple, and profound.

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We’re excited and waiting for the wedding to begin!

Sisters

THE Cake

“You had the left side and I had the right
With a line down the middle so we wouldn’t fight
Two sisters sharing a room
With desk in the middle of two twin beds”

Terri Hendrix, “The Sister’s Song”

(Performed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAuLhGHgQoY)

Here is one of my earliest memories: I woke up early in the morning (yes, even as a toddler I was a “morning person”).  I was between two and three years old, and I wanted to wake my little sister. We’re not quite two years apart in age, and she was my first and best friend. At that time, we lived in a big house in Germantown, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. My room was next to my baby sister’s, and my parents’ bedroom was perpendicular to it on the second floor. (My two older siblings had their bedrooms on the third floor.) My mom saw me heading to my sister’s room, and held her fingers to her lips, gesturing to me to be quiet and to get back in my room. I think I went back to my room, but then snuck out a few minutes later to wake my sister so we could play.

After we moved to Dallas when I was three and she was one, my little sister and I shared a room. There was no line down the middle, at least no real line. I’m certain we fought, but we played more. We had some epic evening bed jumping sessions when we were supposed to be sleeping. As children before and after have done, we pretended the space in the middle between our beds was water or quicksand or held some sort of danger, and we had to jump from one bed to the other to escape the danger.  Then when my mom came to investigate the noise, we quieted down, only to burst out in giggles after she walked away. We thought we were fooling our parents, but I’m sure now we were not.

We made up games; we made up words, imaginary characters, and songs.  We ganged up on our parents and older sister. We shared clothes, friends, and confidences. We were sisters and friends.

When my then-boyfriend, now husband, proposed, my little sister was the first person I told. When she officially “came out,” I was one of the first to know.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I told everyone I didn’t care if I had a boy or a girl. And truly, I’m certain I would have loved and adored a son, but secretly, I did hope for a girl. And then, when I was pregnant for a second time, again I secretly hoped for another daughter because I hoped they would be friends the way my younger sister and I had been. They were, and they are.

My little sister’s birthday is in a few days—on Election Day here in the US. So here are early Happy Birthday wishes to you, my amazing and wonderful sister. I love you.  We don’t see each other enough because of our driving phobias, but I think of you often.  Good luck with your election—and if I lived in your district, I would vote for you, maybe more than once. (Joking!)

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This is the birthday cake known as THE Cake in our family. It is easy to prepare and easy to transport to gatherings. It does not require icing, but a scoop of ice cream is nice. My perfect choice would be coffee. Over the years, I’ve adapted the recipe, so there is more chocolate than in the original recipe. Really, can you ever have too much chocolate?

The Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar

2 cups flour

2 cups brewed coffee, cooled

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup cocoa (Plus extra for dusting the pan)

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tsp. baking soda

2 eggs

Chocolate chips (I use Ghiardelli bittersweet—about 1 cup more or less)

Confectioner’s sugar for top, if desired

Grease and flour 13 x 9 pan. I use cocoa instead of flour.

Place all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a large mixing bowl. With mixer at low speed, beat until well blended. Add chocolate chips—approximately half a bag. They will sink to the bottom. Pour batter into pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Leave the cake in the pan. When cooled, you can top it with confectioner’s sugar (add chopped or shaved chocolate to it for a special touch.)