There Were Never Such Devoted Sisters

Can't Live With ‘Em; Can't Live With ‘Em

I just spent a week with my two sisters. We laughed, we cried, we made guacamole. I love those two girls, I honestly do – but I could never live with them.

This makes me feel really guilty. After all, my grandmother lived with her sister Anna Belle for eight decades. That's right, I said eight decades! Anna Belle, who never married, lived to be ninety years old, and except for a brief five years that my grandmother was married (her husband died suddenly when my mom was only three) the two of them spent their entire lives together.

Their daily routine ran as smoothly as a little mechanical clock. In accordance with roles seemingly established by some sort of natural cosmic order, Mama Jewel (that's what we called my grandmother) did all the banking and shopping, and Anna Belle was the designated chicken fryer. After supper Anna Belle washed the dishes and Mama Jewel dried them. Anna Belle never once wrote a check; and Mama Jewel never went near the stove. They never switched jobs – ever. Nor did they argue about whose turn it was to hang the clothes on the line (that chore fell to Anna Belle) or who was supposed to water the garden (Mama Jewel always did it.) Their temperaments were as different as the texture of their hair. They couldn't even wear each other's clothes. Yet these sisters were so completely in sync with each other that they overcame the biggest challenge two women could ultimately face – they shared a bathroom amicably.

Fast forward to now, and it's impossible for me to envision a similar successful cohabitation with Marsha and Jeri. For one thing there's the whole "who's in charge?” business. In my grandmother's case it was a no-brainer. She was the only one who knew how to drive – ergo she was the primary decision maker. With the three of us it's not so simple. I mean, we can't even pick out a cantaloupe without everybody weighing in with an opinion. Can you imagine us trying to finance a house together?

And then there's the issue of compatibility. Don't get me wrong. We have plenty in common. We all sing alto, we can all three make spectacular gravy, and none of us have ever colored our hair! But there are differences too, and those are the ones that worry me. For example, Marsha is nocturnal, fries her bacon to a crisp, and couldn't care less about national politics. Meanwhile Jeri has bundles of nervous energy, layers her lasagna backward, and listens to Kenny G. Well right there I see a problem in that I go to bed early; like my bacon medium; watch Fox News every day; love to relax with a good book; layer my lasagna correctly; and think Kenny G's saxophone music sounds like someone slowly letting the air out of a balloon. In short, our living together wouldn't work. It simply wouldn't work.

And yet somehow in the back of my mind I have a gnawing suspicion that one of these days the three of us Jolly sisters are going to end up under the same roof anyway. Why? Because we come from a family of really long livers (and no, I'm not describing our internal organs – I'm referring to the fact that the women in our family tend to live a long time), and while it's true that right now we all have wonderful, loving husbands, odds are that that those poor fellows are going to kick the bucket long before their wives do. When that happens, we'll be like the three little pigs who, not knowing what else to do, took shelter with each other when their respective houses were huffed and puffed and blown away.

I can see it now. We'll spend our waning years dressing alike, mixing up our bifocals, finishing each other's sentences and making constructive comments like, "Those brown shoes make your feet look fat.” Gradually we'll settle into a comfortable routine where one of us makes the coffee, one of us butters the toast and one of us cooks the bacon (I just hope it's not Marsha, or she'll char it to ashes.)

Not that it will matter at that point. Nor will it matter whose toothbrush we've all been using for the past week. The important thing is that we'll be together. So let Jeri play her Kenny G nonstop. If that's what makes her happy, then fine by me. Besides, by then I'll probably be too deaf to hear it anyway.

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