Author and Strong Woman Ann Parker guests today about SISTERS on Writing Strong Women. She also guests on Writing Strong Women at Blog Talk Radio. Airing today at 1:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time. Of course, if you miss the broadcast you can pick it up in the archives and listen at your convenience. Her Sisters story is powerful, and one which most women who have sisters, whether by blood or by choice, can relate to and smile. (My sister and I certainly can!)
Ann Parker is a California-based science/corporate writer by day and an historical mystery writer by night. Her award-winning Silver Rush series, featuring saloon-owner Inez Stannert, is set in 1880s Colorado, primarily in the silver-mining boomtown of Leadville. The latest in her series, MERCURY’S RISE, will be released November 1.
Sisters is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship. ~Margaret Mead
When I began my Silver Rush historical mystery series, one of the things I did was “gift” my main character, Leadville saloon-owner Inez Stannert, with a younger sister. Nearly a full decade separates Inez and Harmony, and yet Harmony is the family member that Inez turns to for help when she must send her young son William away from Leadville. Harmony is the one who takes in William, the one to whom Inez pours her heart out (albeit circumspectly) in letters. Missives between Inez and Harmony fly back and forth as the sisters console and confide in each other throughout the series.
Out of all the topics I have researched for my books, the one where I drew mostly from my own heart is the sisterly relationship between Inez and Harmony.
I have my own little sister, Alison, and our relationship as my guide. Alison certainly belongs in this blog focused on Strong Women, for she is one of the strongest women I know. We have been on the sisterhood “journey” for more than five decades now, and my love, admiration, and respect for her continues to grow.
Of course, it wasn’t always so.
I am older by almost three years, exactly. I don’t recall Alison as a baby, although one nicely posted photo has the two of us, Alison as infant, me as young child, smiling companionably, eyes directed stage left (probably at a toy held aloft by the photographer). I recall very little from our early years together: Alison’s head, ruffled with curls, as she lay sleeping in the trundle bed that slid out from under my own bedstead. There’s one horrifying old home movie in which Alison is toddling along in front of our old home and I race up to her on a tricycle, only to screech to a stop at the last moment, after which Alison plunks down to the sidewalk on her diapered rear. (At least, I hope I stopped short. Scrutinizing the silent, grainy film, I find it’s hard to tell whether she lost her balance from the surprise or whether I actually bumped her.)
Sharing a room for fifteen-plus years, we diverged early and definitively. She was the “artistic one,” I was the “bookish one.” (Witness the photos: Alison with paints, me with a book.) I was disorganized and messy. Alison was neat, everything had its place. (My “place” for things was under the bed). The only way to keep a sort of peace in that shared space was to draw a line down the middle of the room. Later on, our differences crept into the audible zone: Alison loved rock and roll: the Beatles, the Monkees, the Rolling Stones. I preferred classical: Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart. There were screaming fights over things I no longer recall—in one spectacular incident, a face was slapped and a chair was thrown (I shall not divulge who did what: it will remain a “mystery for the reader.” 😉 )… In retrospect, we seemed just bound and determined to annoy each other!
Time passed, and we left the turbulent teens years behind. We no longer share a room or even a residence. Alison moved to New York, I stayed West. She became an artist, I became a writer. We went our “separate ways” but have grown closer even so. I treasure the times we have together and the bond we now share: texting/emailing, and talking on the phone, plus the times we manage to arrange “face time” with each other, flitting cross country to opposite coasts. We share a common history, a common language, a common memory.
Alison is also a survivor of ovarian cancer—not once, but THREE times over. I marvel at her resilence, her determination, and treasure our times together on this coast or that. I am in awe of the strength of my little sister, and learn from her, even as we grow older. What a journey it’s been. Pam Brown, an Australian poet (who I’ll bet has a sister) sums it up nicely in this quote:
Sisters annoy, interfere, criticize. Indulge in monumental sulks, in huffs, in snide remarks. Borrow. Break. Monopolize the bathroom. Are always underfoot. But if catastrophe should strike, sisters are there. Defending you against all comers.
Alison is there for me, no matter what, and she knows that I am always there for her… no matter what. We laugh, we sympathize, we share, we learn from each other.
There are, thankfully, no more lines down the middle of the room.
Ann Parker is a California-based science/corporate writer by day and an historical mystery writer by night. Her award-winning Silver Rush series, featuring saloon-owner Inez Stannert, is set in 1880s Colorado, primarily in the silver-mining boomtown of Leadville. The latest in her series, MERCURY’S RISE, will be released November 1. http://www.annparker.net
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Sisters–especially when they are both strong women–aren delightful, infuriating, fun, worrisome and wonderful!