Surprising Sisters


My “baby sister” Ruth had a significant birthday this year. I will not reveal which one, not so much because she is sensitive as because I’ve already told you enough that you know I am even older. Her son sent a secret message to her three elder sisters requesting our presence for the weekend of that birthday, promising that he and his wife had already made plans for Ruth to be at their house for the occasion. The summons, readily accepted, entailed a flurry of plane reservations, plans for a gag gift recalling an inside McGee Girls joke, and huge restraint to keep from spilling the beans. 

Ruth's birthday 3.jpg

The day of our arrival, Jonathan told his mother he’d like to follow one of their long-time traditions and go out to watch the airplanes take off and land. He parked in the cell phone lot, saying they could see the planes well from there. When I texted that we had retrieved our bags, he told her there might be another place where they could see even better. The look on her face was priceless when he pulled to the curb and she realized it was sisters rather than planes he had come to see.

Our children on a cousin technology link followed the happenings with one point of speculation. The question was whether any others of their generation could top this in doing something special for their parents, and then somebody recalled that Donna had donated a kidney to her dad. 

The weekend lived up to its advance hype with much retelling of old stories, a couple of museum visits since we were in the DC area, eating gourmet food prepared by the nephew, and hearing him preach for our first time on Sunday morning. He did the last two as well as he planned the surprise visit, with his wife abetting him cheerfully at all three. At one point, Ruth said this was the most special thing that had ever been done for her, and her three sisters would tell you that “special” splashed all over us as well. 

The first grainy picture of our McGee quartet comes not long after completion of the Sisterhood. Behind us is the only vehicle we ever loved enough to give a name. We called the station wagon “Genevieve,” but one of Daddy’s witty church members called it the “Geewhicle.” We’ve aged a bit and bonded tighter by the last picture.


Renee Watson in her acceptance speech for the Coretta Scott King Award expressed our feelings well. “To have sisters who are also your friends is a precious, precious gift. They know my shortcomings and my strengths. Their loyal support and care tell me, We love you unconditionally.” (July/August Horn Book) I think all four McGee Girls are in complete agreement with Renee.