Sisters are on my mind today, because I just got done having a relaxing, yet humorous, conversation with my sisters. And, in fact, as I write this, I am stretched out on my sister Mary Grace’s bedroom floor, trying to stay cool enough to keep my mind collected as I write this.
For years I dreamt of having a sister. I had three brothers. “Would my family have all boys with me as the only girl?” I wondered. With the Amish generally having large families, my friends all had sisters. But in our family there were no girls to share a room with, tell secrets, or play dolls with me.
When I was 8 years old, though, my excitement knew no bounds when a darling baby girl joined our family. Mary Grace was my very own sister. Helping Mom care for her was a total delight. Several times she even woke me during the night to have me rock Mary Grace when she wasn’t sleeping well. As I sat on our little hickory rocker, it felt like my life was being completed.
A few years later, I was crushed when Mom’s pregnancy ended midterm when her unborn baby girl died. We named her Charity Ruth. In spite of our grief, we found reassurance knowing that she is safe in Heaven, free from any earthly pain or sorrow.
Another year passed. Once more Dad and Mom shared exciting news. There was another little one on its way. Excitement mingled with questions and concerns. Will this baby be alright? The days seemed to stretch on endlessly. Finally, one afternoon, when we children were spending time at our uncle’s house, we received the message of the safe arrival of our little one. I ran for my bicycle and started pedaling down the road, my legs pumping at top speed. I didn’t have far to go since they had had a home birth. Inside the door, I kicked off my shoes and ran for the bedroom. Soon the boys had also arrived and Dad was ready to share the news.
“It’s a girl!” he said. We were thrilled. We now had an equal number of boys and girls: three of each.
More time passed. Once more I was devastated when another sister, Rebekah Hope, passed on to eternity before we even got to know her. She, too, was buried in our little church cemetery next to the schoolhouse. Again, we clung to the hope that God has a purpose in allowing her to go home. He will guide us through this valley.
Next, in 2006, came Keturah Joy. What a joy! What a healing balm her arrival was for our hearts. We felt deeply grateful to God for giving us another pink bundle to love and care for. Ten years have passed since then. My girlish dream of having sisters to chatter with, defend, and share secrets with, actually happened. In fact, Mary Grace and Anna Faith are both at least 6 inches taller than me. Things are changing now. Instead of me taking care of them, they baby-sit my children at times. What would I do without my own sisters? I love everything about them. They all have their own unique personalities and talents. This summer, Mary Grace turned 18. She is an outstanding seamstress. Today she was telling me how she plans to sew shirts and dresses for her nieces and nephews, matching some of her dress fabric.
Anna Faith, 14, has helped us many times by mowing our yard when we were especially busy or away on a trip. She can also wipe out dirty corners in a hurry, giving me a lift as she sweeps and cleans through the house.
At 10 years old, Keturah Joy excels in baby-sitting. She has an amazing knack for playing with children on their level while still remaining an authority figure. Countless times she has come to my aid by washing dishes, cleaning, or doing laundry.
Each of my sisters are dear to me in their own way, not for what they do for me, but for who they are. And, yes, we have times when we fail one another and need to apologize as we keep loving one another through the good and the bad.
Today has been full of fun sister moments and togetherness.
My sisters are constantly picking me up with their pony and cart to take me to the store or wherever I need to go. In fact, today, all three sisters, my two little ones and me piled into a pony cart designed for two or three people. Thankfully, the pony was tough and energetic to cover the distance.
After wrapping up writing this column today, my three sisters and I got a notion to tackle part of Mom and Dad’s sweet corn patch. It was 6 p.m. By 8:30 p.m., we had 25 quarts of corn in the freezer. Everyone was glad to have worked hard under the humid crimson sky of an Illinois summer evening. It was challenging but we kept talking and laughing and we could feel our spirits lifting, knowing we were getting a job well done. The project was off their list for the following day and it was another fun memory for us four sisters.
My sisters enjoy making these “mud hen bars.” It has been a family favorite for years. My brothers prefer to omit the nuts.
MUD HEN BARS
½ cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
2 egg yolks
1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup nuts
½ cup chocolate chips
1 cup mini-marshmallows
1 cup brown sugar
2 egg whites
Mix first seven ingredients and press into a 9- by 13-inch pan. Sprinkle with nuts, chocolate chips and marshmallows. Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold in brown sugar. Spread on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
Readers with culinary or cultural questions or stories can write to Gloria Yoder, 10568 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427-2019. To see more on the Amish, go to www.amish365.com.