Every Christmas I relate to the “Sisters” song in Holiday Inn, but for this blog, I’d rather borrow Jenny Kostecki-Shaw’s title Same, Same, but Different. Her picture book, which you should definitely read if you haven’t, is not about sisters but the title is a great description for the four McGee Girls.
For instance, all of us chose a career in education. Ruth, the youngest, chose speech therapy which eventually evolved into an administrative position that helped parents, teachers, and students work cooperatively toward optimal outcomes for students. Gwyn, next in line, was a high school math teacher who knew that her geometry students could understand “plane” when she put it in terms of the football crossing the plane of the goal line. Beth became a librarian who connected students and teachers to books. I taught kindergarten, second grade, and junior high gifted language arts. Same, Same, but Different.
Jenny’s title still holds when it comes to the practicalities of life. I’m telling this so you’ll get my viewpoint. If one of my sisters wants to differ, she can write her own blog. We share some basics – love of God, family, and friends; a belief in giving back; a strong work ethic; and a way of facing life with a sense of humor. We did have the same parents who taught these regularly. But after we acquired the basics, they encouraged us to be who we were and follow our leanings.
Ruth can take any problem, analyze its component parts, and come up with the solution(s) without ruffling a feather – but don’t hurry her to that conclusion. Gwyn elegantly balances keeping a beautiful home and being a gracious hostess with having a caring heart. Beth is the one you want if you have a practical need – custom made drapes, wallpapering, repair work, or a driver to a doctor’s appointment. Which leaves me – your plain regular “good old girl” who gets the choice job for the family. They let me write the words – a family thank you note, a memoir account for a church’s anniversary, or the narrative to send ahead to the doctor when we correctly suspect that Mama has Alzheimer’s Disease.
Being different has taken us to live far apart so we don’t see each other as often as we’d like. That distance has not lessened our pride in the title “The McGee Girls.” And I think it has added to the sheer joy when we can be together as were this past week. The New York Times [October 12,2010] reported a study that showed having a sister made you happier. Adolescents with a sister were less likely to report feelings of sadness and depression or the standard “I feel like nobody loves me.” My own feelings as an adolescent confirm the study, but I didn’t really need it. I’ve always known I was happier times three with these that are the “Same, Same but Different.”
*In both old and new pictures, left to right are Gwyn, Ruth, and Beth with me behind.