Sisters Are.…

“Sisters are blossoms in the garden of life,” Author Unknown

“Sister to sister we will always be, a couple of nuts off the family tree,” Author Unknown

“A sister shares childhood memories and grown-up dreams,” Author Unknown

“Sisters may share the same mother and father but appear to come from different families,” Author Unknown

“You can kid the world, but not your sister,” Charlotte Gray English author and professor

“May and I are sisters. We’ll always fight, but we’ll always make up as well. That’s what sisters do: we argue, we point out each other’s frailties, mistakes, and bad judgment, we flash the insecurities we’ve had since childhood, and then we come back together. Until the next time…” Lisa See, in Shanghai Girls

“Having a sister is like having a best friend you can’t get rid of.  You know whatever you do, they’ll still be there,” Amy Li, author

“If you don’t understand how a woman could both love her sister dearly and want to wring her neck at the same time, then you were probably an only child,” Linda Sunshine, author and editor

“Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply…” Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814

“Sisters are probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship,” Margaret Mead, anthropologist

“We acquire friends and we make enemies,…. our sisters come with the territory,” Evelyn Loeb, author

“Sisters share the scent and smells – the feel of a common childhood,” Pam Brown, Australian poet.

“Sisters annoy, interfere, criticize.  Indulge in monumental sulks, in huffs, in snide remarks.  Borrow.  Break.  Monopolize the bathroom.  Are always underfoot.  But if catastrophe should strike, sisters are there.  Defending you against all comers,” Pam Brown, Australian poet.

“I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers.  It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage.  Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at,” Maya  Angelou, poet and author

“Sisters function as safety nets in a chaotic world simply by being there for each other,” Carol Saline along with photographer, Sharon Wohlmuth, has co-authored five photo-essay books. Their most popular, Sisters, spent 63 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list and sold over one million copies.

My sisters are all of these and much more. Together we face the world, even when we cannot face each other. Their children and grandchildren are a part of me and mine, in a way I cannot define. Time, distance, death does not break the bond we worked hard to make, no matter the bittersweet of anger, hurt, broken trust….

We are sisters…..

©2016 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved


Happy Mothering Day…


…is fundamental to all beings.

…involves nurturing and raising children.

…extends far beyond biology and bodies.

…is the act and practice of love and the passing on of knowledge.

…occurs across multiple times and spaces

…is political.

…is life.

“Mothering is not limited to relationships between a female parent and her biological offspring. Mothering, as a relationship and practice, is a social and cultural act that occurs between multiple configurations of people of many generations – individually and communally. This is something Indigenous peoples have always known, celebrating extended families and lauding the wisdom of matriarchs as it applied and was transmitted to all the younger generations of a community. Mothering, understood in this way as a complex web of relational practices, was and is fundamental to life. This is perhaps also why mothering has often been so threatened while simultaneously holding the potential for (re)building the inherent strengths in our communities.

Aboriginal mothering is recognized as extending beyond the biological act of giving birth and involving a multitude of roles and relationships across times, spaces and generations. Strength to move forward as healthy individuals, families and communities is inextricably linked to Aboriginal women, mothers, grandmothers and aunties….”

The Sacred Space of Womanhood- A National Showcase on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Women and Mothering

©2012 National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health

©2016 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved



A Tale of Two Years….

The Brandywine River Years…. the past 22 months have been a series of twists and turns, lives circling in and out between “the known and unknown.”*

In October 2013, our Beloved Aunt Mary laid her body down to rest in Massachusetts. She was surrounded by her loving family. Her life was a blessing to me and mine. She is missed most every day.

Upon my return to Kansas, Mike was hospitalized for an infection and a nurse discovered a foot ulcer causing septicemia. He had surgery to remove a piece of clam shell embedded between two of his middle toes on his right foot. The ulcer was completely through his foot. The top of his foot healed within 6 months of wound clinic visits and antibiotic treatments. The bottom portion of his foot healed over, only to reopen again.

In October 2014, Mike had a middle toe amputation. The initial healing was looking good until March 2015. He is currently under the care of a Wound Clinic and Orthopedic doctor. Caring for the wound, eating and hydrating properly and not walking on the wounded foot is a balancing act of epic proportions for us. How do we live, while struggling with the uncertainty of life?

By using every coping skill we ever learned on our journey to Now…

By surrounding ourselves with those who only want the best for us…

By asking for help when we need it…

By loving and allowing ourselves to be loved…

By serving those unable to serve themselves…

By taking extra special care of our own needs…

By embracing our Spiritual Guide, our Higher Power, our God Within and Without…

We keep on, keeping on…..


*The name Baranduin was Sindarin for “golden-brown river”. The Hobbits of the Shire originally gave it the punning name Branda-nîn, meaning “border water” in original Hobbitish Westron. This was later punned again as Bralda-hîm meaning “heady ale” (referring to the colour of its water), which Tolkien renders into English as Brandywine.[Source?]

To the Hobbits of the Shire, the Brandywine was the boundary between the known and unknown, and even those who lived in Buckland on the immediate opposite shore were considered “peculiar”. Lord of the Rings Trilogy, J.R.R. Tolken

©2015 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved

Cat Call…….

In August, 1966, my sister Leslie and I, and our Cadette Girl Scout troop took a long awaited camping trip up Poudre Canyon, in the Rocky Mountains west of Fort Collins, Colorado. All of the girls in the troop had worked hard to raise the money for this adventure. We sold a lot of cookies, calendars and had formed a folk singing group, complete with granny dresses. Directed by the leader’s oldest son, we performed “The Cruel War” and “Blowing in the Wind’, and other folk songs of the early 1960’s for church women’s groups, community gatherings, Grange meetings. We sang for donations and made enough money to take around 10, 8-10th grade girls and six adults on a five day camping excursion.

We had a great time that summer. We went horseback riding, camped on the Cache la Poudre River near Rustic, CO, where we toured the original stagecoach hotel, visited the Red Feather Lakes area where we were given a tour of a fire spotter tower with a real forest ranger and clambered around a volcanic rock area. I was not looking for kimberlites and lamproites, rock areas where diamonds are sometimes found, the rock formations were fun to climb and were just plain cool.

My fondest memory, the one that still causes me to laugh out loud today, was a drive to an abandoned homestead, complete with log cabin, in an alpine meadow. We were driving across a cattle ranch area and had just passed over the cattle guard crossing. We were in a four door sedan and the going was rough so the car was moving slowly. The windows were down and as the car slowed to a crawl there were several cows not far from the vehicle. Leslie leaned out the window and called, “here, kitty, kitty.” The cows looked up at her briefly and then went back to grazing. The other girls and I were stunned and then we laughed loud and long. It was priceless. Ah, younger sisters, can never get away with anything, especially, in our family.

Over Labor Day weekend, Sally, Penny, Leslie and I went “RVing” to western Kansas for our sister weekend. We visited several places, Monument Rocks, Gove County; St. Fidelis Church (Cathedral of the Plains), Victoria, Garden of the Gods, Lucas, Nicodemus and ate fried chicken and the best cole slaw in the world at the Brookfield Hotel, Abilene. Leslie was driving her RV through the cattle range on the road to Monument Rocks, when we passed over a cattle guard and saw a herd of yearlings milling around over the gravel road ahead. They were about three quarters of the way across the road. Leslie slowed to a stop to assess the situation. In the distance, there was a vehicle coming towards us. Leslie drove forward, moving to the left. As Leslie pulled up beside them, Penny rolled her window down and yelled, “HAW!” The startled young cattle turned and galloped away. We all laughed and the “here, kitty, kitty” memory on the other cattle range all those years ago flooded me.

Today is Leslie’s 60th birthday. She is celebrating, with Aunt Mary, Uncle Chuck and Cousin Tami at the cottage in New Hampshire. Her birthday party is being given by her nieces next Saturday evening. We are all looking forward to a fun evening with family and friends.

“A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost,” Marion C. Garretty, American journalist, broadcaster and author.

Happy Birthday, Leslie, wishing you many more……….

©2013 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved



Still Floatin’……..

The old lily pad has been listing a little from the wear and tear of the past eight months. Mike has had several brushes with pneumonia. The third weekend of September he was in intensive care for several days and two  days in intermediate care. About six weeks later he was in intermediate care for several days. About a month after that he went to the doctor when he started to feel lousy. She caught the beginning of the pneumonia. He was able to come home on antibiotics. Mike is paying closer attention to what his body is telling him. I know what pneumonia breathing sounds like. Continuing education has always been important to me.

In October, Sam’s mom gave birth to his sister, Abby, and daughter Jami called and asked if she, her husband and the children could move in with us while they got their financial life back together. We looked at each other, took a deep gulp of air, said yes and went off to visit the new baby. Son-in-law Don finished up his CDL (Commercial Driver License) class in Kansas. Jami and the children showed up the beginning of October.

We had two high school students switching schools again, 6 weeks into the school year. A recent high school graduate who did not really  know what she wanted to do in life. And then there is the preschooler working  on her PH.D in teenage smart talk. The Jami mama is working as an executive assistant at the museum where I was working the past eight months.

We are four months into this intergenerational experiment. I have left the museum. Mike has applied for disability. I am once again wondering just what I really want to do with the rest of my life. Right now all I want to do is earn enough to pay our monthly COBRA insurance bill.

We are entering a new life phase. The float is still all good………..


©2012 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved





Welcome Back…….

Mike is 60 years old today. Thirty-six days ago he was admitted to a local hospital with pneumonia and sepsis. The twelve days in intensive care were an excruciating exercise in patience, faith and hope. The eight days of his sedation and intubation because he could not breathe on his own were almost unbearable.

He went in to the hospital on June 1 and came home on July 1. During that very long month.….  Kyra Rose graduated from high school and got her first job…. Alice and Peter celebrated birthdays….  Kahlan made the high school age traveling soccer team… Jacob went to Boy Scout camp on his own… Sam’s parents celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary…. all of our children came and stayed on a staggered schedule for several days each…. my sister Leslie adjusted her life to be there for me…. sister Sally welcomed a new grandson into the world….  sister Penny endured her own hospital stay…. I locked myself out of the van in the library parking lot at 8:30 PM one evening…. neighbors and friends and family mowed the lawn, cleaned the house, paid our bills, showed up and took me to the hospital cafe for coffee, sent encouraging notes,  emails and voice messages, visited Mike in the hospital, sent flowers……..

We are very thankful for everyone in our lives, grateful for each other and excited about new possibilities. Happy Birthday, Mike.

And life goes on……..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Food, family, fun ……

Reunion picnics are part of the crazy patchwork quilt of our childhood. When we were young, my siblings and I measured the progression of summer by the family reunions we attended.

For us, summer began with the Memorial Day Picnic. This reunion always started with the obligatory visit to the Silver Lake Cemetery where my mother’s father’s parents and grandparents were buried. The anual family picnic started in the 1890’s as a celebration of my GGG-Grandmother Elizabeth’s May birthday. When Mother’s Day became an annual event, her children got together with her the second Sunday in May.  After WWI and the Memorial Day observation began, the reunion date moved again. The reunion had moved from the G-G-G parent’s farm to the shelter house in the Rossville Park near the high school and wonderful old ball diamond with a wooden viewing stand.  Lots of softball games with old and young were played there. The playground next to the shelter house was pretty awesome, too. My mom remembered playing there when she was young. The slide was huge and had wooden rails. I was always terrified and went home with lots of splinters.

Every summer, Aunt Mary and her family made a visit from Massachusetts. There were several family picnics and outings with my Mom’s family. Those picnics always seemed to be around my Cousin Pam’s birthday. I am thinking she may be the only cousin with a July birthday. If I am wrong, someone will let me know shortly!

The next family reunion was the first weekend in August in Alta Vista, Kansas. This was my Grandma Dorothy’s annual reunion. GGMa Myrtle’s siblings, cousins and descendants were at this picnic. The Alta Vista Park had a huge water tower a short distance from the shelter house where the reunion was always held. We were always trying to climb the water tower. My brother made it to the top once. This was the same brother who climbed over the side of the suspension bridge at the Royal Gorge when he was four. I remember wondering why my parents seemed so surprised and upset about the water tower incident when he was nine. What did they expect? He did survive both incidents. Mostly, I remember how hot a Kansas August is and wondering what the adults were thinking. The best Kansas August reunion was the time cousins came from Washington D.C. We went to someone’s farm. It was cooler there, we had the best time playing in the barn and under the trees and there was a new cousin my age.

The annual family reunion marking the end of summer was held the first weekend in September. As previously reported, Grandpa K, my dad’s dad, had 10 siblings spread throughout the US. The Topeka brothers and their families had their picnic Labor Day weekend at the Gage Park shelter house closest to the zoo. Sometimes out-of-town siblings and/or their families would show. This reunion often involved a zoo visit and maybe a last-weekend-of-the-summer swim at the big park pool.

This past weekend was the Memorial Day picnic. My sister called me on the way home from Rossville. They had a great time. I waxed nostalgic for a few minutes, remembering really good times. After we hung up, I made tuna and egg salad sandwiches, four bean salad and brownies.

Excuse me. There is iced tea and food to eat outside in the heat with bugs and humidity. There is not a playground in our backyard, the covered swing in the backyard will have to do. BTW, my mother’s birthday is in July…. lemon cake…. ice cream .…… yum …..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Middle Bit…….

The middle child often does get left out. In some families they act out more than the other children. In some families they simply remain quiet and become the peacemaker, friendly with all sides. Our middle kid tends to be quieter and is closer to her sisters than they are to each other. She is sometimes a bridge for them.

The year of the second child pregnancy Sam’s Mom was a baby. She was very busy and not into naps. She did like to be held and rocked. I managed to find time to indulge in my favorite past-time, reading. I read all of Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring trilogy and I read Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave. I wanted to name the baby Keridwen after the sorceress who was Merlin’s nemesis. We would call her Keri. At that time, I did not know that Keridwen was based upon Ceridwen, (hard “C”, Celtic pronunciation, please) the witch, sorceress, temptress found in Celtic folklore.

The baby father and I disagreed upon the proposed name and discussed other options. Julie Robin was one option. As I played around with all kinds of name combinations I came up with Keri Robin. Pretty close, don’t you think? Baby father agreed and her name was Keri Robin.

Years later the baby father told me he ought to have let me name her Keridwen. He could not remember why he did not want to. The name was still prophetic. Miss Keri took Latin, loved it and all things mythical and mystical came her way. She had a wonderful imagination and is exploring her writing muse these days. She can draw and create and is gentle with animals.

Keri earned every art and horseback riding badge in Girl Scouts and still found time for swimming, canoeing, camping, cooking and friends. She has lived her life bravely, with love and enthusiasm. I want to share the portion of the Kahlil Gibran poem I hand wrote on her homemade birth announcements. In 1972, the words raised some family eyebrows. His words touch me deep down in my heart………

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
and though they are with you, and yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love, but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward, nor tarries with yesterday

Kahlil Gibran, from The Prophet

Happy Birthday, Keri Robin. Wishing you many more………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Bling Glam Bloom…….

Alice’s dance to the prom was strewn with dresses, gloves, nail polish, Goldilocks curls, hair accessories and wrist corsages.  MomJami and her cousins glammed* Alice up and took some cool pics.

 Alice has done a really good job at school this year.  She took her family’s 175 mile move from one town to another with as much grace and dignity a 16 year old can muster. Alice has faithfully attended school and made new friends. She attends church and participates in her youth group.

I am so proud of my granddaughter and the choices she is making.  Isn’t she beautiful?

*I really like this new phrase “glammed up”. I am pretty sure an English grammar teacher is somewhere having a fit. Today I do not care. This phrase really conveys the message.

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Mother’s Day ……

My sister had a project scheduled in the northwest Chicago suburbs this week. She wanted to know what we could do if she came to town on Sunday morning. After checking the calendar and consulting with Sam’s Mom and Mike, we made our plans for Mother’s Day. My sister and I would have brunch and then pick Sam’s Mom up at her in-law’s. From there we would attend the Evanston History Center Annual Mother’s Day Historical House Walk and Tour. This year the walk was held in the Lake Shore Historic District.

All I can say is ….WOW! The houses were built from the 1870’s thru 1890’s. One house was said to be modeled after Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s house in Cambridge, MA. I visited HWL’s home in 1992 and was interested in the similarities. The foyer and main staircase is definitely the same as I remember. The gardens in all of the homes were beautifully landscaped and arranged.

One of our favorite parts was the row of cabanas along the oval, sculpted edged pool at the second house. The cabanas were like something out of a movie. I have done a lot of home tours in many states and I have never seen anything like this. The cabanas in Katherine Hepburn’s The Philadelphia Story come close.

One of the 1870’s houses had an attic completely outfitted for children, including hidden passageway rung ladders up from the children’s bedrooms on the second floor.  After examining the ins and outs of the passageway I mentioned the need to do something different when the children become teenagers. They will be able to find a way out of the house and down the front staircase while the parents are sleeping in the master bedroom at the back of the house. Having been through this particular nightmare several times, I’m just saying…..

The day was wonderful and we laughed and shared and had a great time with each other. A very good day…….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved