Oh Sister!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sisters… We take their things. We compete with them. We fight with them, in the process hurling hurtful insults at each other, and leave things unsaid… but at the end of the day, we’d do anything for them, because they are the best friend we can always turn too… and we love them. Dozens of films, books and songs have explored the bond between sisters. Perhaps though none is more famous to we costume drama buffs than Austen’s iconic Pride & Prejudice or Sense & Sensibility. No matter how good those series are, I do not think I’ve seen the topic so well-written in what winds up being a genuinely endearing story in the 2005 film In Her Shoes. For a variety of reasons I never watched the movie and only now am sorry to not have watched it earlier, having seen just what I was missing out on.

The story revolves around two mismatched sisters whose definition of “fun” means two completely different things. One is a responsible, successful lawyer; the other is an irresponsible slacker who relies on her looks to get what she wants.  Already too different to function normally around each other, the two of them eventually part on the worst of terms and the ensuing story is a journey of the heart and mind. The girls were two peas in a pod as children partly because they lost their mother at a young age, and even though Rose cannot stand her sister’s rash, immoralities, she still isn’t “right” when Maggie is gone and similarly Maggie has much the same reaction. I am not going to pretend that the choices these women made are right (they aren’t), but the fact that they still wanted the best for their best friend is a testament to the bond they share. Good heavens if I judged everyone’s relationship with their siblings, that wouldn’t be a right I’d be justified in exercising. Don’t we all make mistakes? While some of Rose and Maggie’s are appalling and equate to nothing but misery, I know in speaking for myself, I made choices that, looking back I’d change. They aren’t at the level as these sisters nor are they as damaging but they had an impact at the time.

The sister relationship I have is a little unconventional (we are related but as cousins), but I love my “sister” – a lot. As little girls, we were inseparable and in spite of our quibbles and petty grievances, we did everything together (including Liz putting up with me exercising my typical big sister “rights” – and, trust me when I say I was little Miss Bossy).  Now as “adults,” we have grown apart compared to our childhood bond; she and I are one-hundred percent different and we want drastically different things out of life, to say nothing of our personal tastes and styles (meaning, there is no way, either of us would be likely to borrow each other’s shoes!) being the complete opposite. That doesn’t mean that if she needed something – big or small, I wouldn’t do whatever I could for her. Rose and Maggie annoyed each other to no end but they were the other half of each other’s hearts; the glue that held the other together – they were sisters.  Their journey made me cry and laugh, react and pause: it got me thinking. The animosity between the girls might be exaggerated or unrealistic as what goes on between most sisters, but nevertheless, the fact that we let our anger, hurt and resentment fester until we barely remember where it stems from – and in some cases don’t recognize ourselves is a sobering reality. Then all those arguments and angst just makes the grudge childish and ultimately damaging.

If you’ve seen this, hopefully you were able to pick up on some of the beautiful truisms and relatable sisterhood relations. (Some who are more rigid in their viewing may not have been able to separate the bad from the good.) A sister is someone you want to giggle over silly things with or tell secrets too. She is someone you want to be around when you need to be called on something – even if it hurts at the time. Your sister is the person you want standing beside you when you say “I do,” she is a confidant… she is… your friend. Whenever I am thinking about the relationships between sisters, my mind normally always wanders to the upbeat tune “Sisters” from Irving Berlins White Christmas. For some reason I LOVE that song. Traditions and generations have portrayed sisterhood as a beautiful thing – and it is, or sometimes even a comical relationship but there is also always going to be conflict. There is going to be differing opinions – you are two completely different human beings. Rose was too fed up with Maggie to try and have a genuine heart-to-heart with her sister, to help her rather than chastise her. Maggie was too much of a flake to care one way or another, but she didn’t respect her sister enough to listen to what she had to say. They are too busy calling each “stupid” or making fun of the other’s looks to focus on the fact that without mutual support, they are lost – that is when they are at their worst. Having dissension in your relationships is okay, but don’t let it ruin the rapport you have with your sister.

Sometimes what we all need to remember is to listen, to hold our tongue before something ugly comes out, because once said, it can never be taken back. And no matter who the people are that may pass though our lives, or how many, a sister is always going to be just that – your sister.


  1. Sadly, I do not have a sister--just a brother. But I have friends who would agree with EVERYTHING you just said.

    My brother and I are polar opposites for the most part, but you know what, I love him in spite of it. If we both were alike, life in my family would be very, very boring. After all, he is the comic relief ;-)

  2. I have three sisters and barely know any of them, since we didn't grow up together. (The only thing we seem to have in common is being animal activists...) Unfortunately, I also have almost all male cousins! I've often wondered what it would be like to be close to a female relative -- most of the sisters I know love and hate their sisters, depending on the occasion. =D

  3. I have three sisters and we couldn't be more different from each other. We all recognize that we do better on visits that are short or via email/text, etc. But, when the chips are down, we love and support each other unconditionally! This sounds like a great movie. I need to look into it.
    2 Kids and Tired Books

  4. Ella ¬ we all need laughter in our lives, right!? It’s probably a good thing your brother is such a comic. =D I grew up with a family of teasers – on both sides of the family too!

    Charity – I am sorry you don’t “know” your sisters. It was such fun growing up with my “sis” – even though now we are completely different, I still wouldn’t trade anything for it. And, I do not think I can honestly say I’ve ever felt hatred for her – thankfully. Things have to be pretty awful for that.

    Thanks for stopping in to comment, Charity!

    Holly – I thought this movie had a lot of “good” lessons to impart. Ironically, I held off on seeing it back some six years ago (when it was out) and only recently rented it – and I almost didn’t even get to finish it then since the rental disc was badly scratched! Luckily it worked in another player, and I have already bought it. =) If you see it, I’d love to know your thoughts.

    Thanks for stopping by, Holly!


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