“Any chance you can come the first week in September to visit?” My sister Jane and I were talking just 2 weeks prior and I was sure it wouldn’t work. Burlington Vermont to Martha’s Vineyard is a trek requiring a 5 hour drive plus a ferry. But she said yes!
I was beyond thrilled as we had not spent time alone in I can’t remember when. Definitely pre-pandemic.
“I’m bringing my kayaks. I want you to see this new fold up kayak I bought…I’m not bringing my bike, so can I borrow one from you? “
“Sounds great. We are having a Rosh Hosh pot-luck dinner on the beach, are you up for that? Oh, and I want to go to services at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs, you don’t have to, but I think it would be cool to experience.”
“Sure, sounds great. I’m up for anything.”
And that’s how we rolled. for 4 days. Playmates in our 6th decade of life, 2 years apart. We had grown up on this island together coming here when we were 11 and 13. Those coming of age years had played out on the beaches and tennis courts, and in the very neighborhood where I now live.
But this visit was different. We had been through the pandemic of distance. We had lost our Mom just prior to the pandemic. Facetime had bridged our gaps but this in person visit reminded us of how much we had missed. So much of our conversations over the past two years had been about settling Mom’s stuff and all the complications that were involved. We had not been able to just “be” in so long. Fear of Covid, and lack of gatherings had interrupted our sisterhood rhythm. Two more birthdays had come and gone and it was clear that every moment together during this trip was precious.
“Jane, how does a kayak fit in a box?” As, I put it on my shoulder and carried it to the waters edge.
“You just pull it out and start unfolding it. The straps keep it together. I watched a You Tube video a zillion times but then I just did it myself “
“I don’t care how many times you watched a video, this looks crazy complicated,” I said as I watched in awe as my sister masterfully constructed her boat in less than 10 minutes . Her Oru Kayak was apparently a kick starter and selling like hot cakes. It is pure genius. I couldn’t help but admire that she had bought this not knowing how to put it together and just figured it out. Somehow, that felt courageous to me. Investing in a boat and learning how to construct it on her own.
“How Bad Ass is she!” I thought.
This was only Day One and we were totally in sync. Singing and paddling on Menemsha Pond and watching the birdlife and water sparkling. We were back in our sisterhood.
Day two: “We have to make a kugel for 20, and roast chickens too. Are you up for it?”
“Great let’s do it! “
And out came the bowls and eggs and pans and side by side we each made our own kugel. We shared ingredients and put on her Woodstock playlist. Dancing and cooking and singing. We threw in pints of sour cream and cream cheese and butter to create the most unhealthy heart attack inducing traditional noodle pudding that is a signature dish of our holiday. They looked incredible and as they came bubbling and crispy out of the oven I was sure that the crispier one was mine.
“No that’s mine.”
“I know that one is mine, I had the shallower pan,” she insisted.
This was my bossier older sister I was dealing with and all of a sudden I burst out laughing as we had fallen into our old pattern. And we looked at each other laughing knowing at some point in time this may have been a major issue.
“Do you want to play pickle ball?”
“I’ve only played 2 or 3 times.”
“No problem, you will learn fast.”
And there we were in a doubles game with my husband and masterful pickler friend Lisa all coaching Jane who somehow was smashing backhands and overheads and was fully in the game after 45 minutes. And I noticed I was now teaching her something new and she was having so much fun, and we were again in our sisterhood of openness. We were doing what we had learned to do here on this island as kids…exhausting ourselves in the outdoors of this island’s playground.
Precious were the moments and without saying much we knew it.
“Wake up Jane, you’ve been napping and it’s our last afternoon.”
I’d been pacing for the last hour waiting for her to wake up from her afternoon snooze knowing that it’s not ok to wake someone up from a good nap but I was feeling selfish. We only had 90 minutes of our last afternoon light left.
And with a sweet smile she opened her eyes. “What , what are we doing now?”
“Dingy ride. We’re going out in the dinghy.”
“Oh great, great give me a minute.” And there we were puttering around the harbor looking at the boats, the changed shore line, the ospreys and the hundreds of oyster beds.
And I thought as I looked at my sister in the magic September pink light, that despite the crazy journey our lives have brought us on, despite our challenging family dynamic growing up, what remains at the end of the day is our sisterhood, strong and loving and celebratory. We are so blessed to have this love.
Featured Image Credit: Larry Glick