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Sisters and Brothers All These Years
Taking Another Look at the Longest Relationship in Your Life
by Lillian S. Hawthorne

Sibling Story: The Fabulous Foursome

Dora, Myra, Clara, and Emma are four remaining sisters out of five. Their oldest sister, Ida, died a few years ago. Dora is the baby of the family and is 70. The next sister in age, Myra, is 80. The others are just two years apart—Clara at 82 and Emma at 84. The sisters laughingly refer to themselves as the A team because, whether intentionally or not, their given names all end with the letter a.

Dora was an unplanned and unexpected child—what used to be called a change-of-life baby—born when her mother was past 40. Her older sisters, all preteenagers or teenagers by that time, treated her like a shared toy or doll. They dressed her up, played with her, fixed her hair in curls, and wheeled her about in a doll carriage. Each of the older sisters can still recount a fond or funny story about playing with their “real live doll.”

Their father died suddenly when Dora was only four years old, leaving their mother with the baby and four other young daughters to raise. She went back to work as an office bookkeeper to support her family, and the big girls took over many of the domestic and parenting tasks. This meant that taking care of Dora was no longer a game but a responsibility, which all the older sisters shared. They bathed her, fed her, watched her, read her bedtime stories, walked her to school, and checked her homework. None of them remembers any major difficulties or instances of serious misbehavior.

Dora herself remembers her childhood years as a time of having five mothers—her four older sisters plus her mother—who took turns caring for her. She acknowledges having been too young to really remember or miss her father and instead remembers being surrounded by mother figures who were always there for her.
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