An Ode to My Sister

There’s a wee bit of an age difference between my sister and me.  And by “wee” I mean 21 years.  Truth be told,  I’m closer in age to my mother than my sister.  Let’s just say our parents had unexpected blessings on both ends of the spectrum. 😉

I was a sophomore in college when the phone rang in my dorm room at 711 Sandoz.  This was before cell phones were ubiquitous, and long distance calls were expensive.  When my mom called on a weekday and told me to sit down, you can bet I took it seriously.  I was terrified she had bad news to share, and braced myself for the worst.

She was calling to tell me she was pregnant.


Fast forward nine months to a labor & delivery hospital room, where we all hovered over a little newborn who was so pink that someone suggested “Rose” for her middle name.  In the end my parents agreed upon a different, most perfect name.

Welcome to the world, Ellison Jane.

Elle grew up in the olden days when wallpaper was fashionable and I only had one chin.  My brother was an uber cool teenager, and my parents were young pups in their early 40’s:

Fast forward 24 years to Spring Break 2017.  Elle decided to spend it here with us, in frozen Alaska.  She visited Alaska a zillion times as a little girl, but this was her first trip in years and certainly her first as an adult.  How many college students would forgo the beach to come stroll on a frozen marsh in Alaska?

She was up for anything.  The kids wanted to teach her to ski, and that was a definite highlight of the trip.  Clark taught her all about pizzas, french fries, hockey stops, and yard sales.  She had one epic wipe out when she couldn’t stop herself and instead flew over a giant snow berm and landed on her back in the parking lot.  With an audience, of course.  But she got back up and conquered that hill!

Friday night we went out on the town.  It started with a nice family dinner at Glacier Brewhouse, but then Clark took the kids home and Elle and I spent a few hours at an Anchorage speakeasy that served the most amazing flaming cocktails, followed by live music at Humpy’s.  (Props to Clark for driving our tipsy butts home!)

This trip was about reconnecting as a family more than touring the state.  There was skiing and sledding and skating.  There were brisk walks and great meals.  Elle didn’t mind riding along for dentist appointments, haircuts, and other mundane errands.  We gathered at the dinner table for nightly board games.  Hours of board games.  And I can’t forget our Harry Potter marathon.  Every night around 10:00 we’d nestle into the couch and queue up one of the movies.  By the end of the week we’d watched nearly all of them!

Of all the places Elle could have spent spring break, I’m so very glad she chose to spend it with us!  After she left I wrote her a poem, incorporating the names of all the board games we played during her visit.   There was certainly no shortage of material!  The poem took on a life of its own and got a little raw in the middle, so I was nervous to share it with her.  Fortunately, she loved it.  Phew.

Here it is:  the ode to my sister, posted with her blessing.

The Sister Game

born a generation apart
one in college
the other in diapers
separated by miles
detached by years

can they possibly grow
to know
each other?

years pass
the oldest has children of her own
the youngest hits a patch of trouble
and doesn’t seem

one is wise
one is otherwise

their reunions are charades
both wanting a ticket to ride
from each other

the oldest to family
the youngest to friends

not yet realizing they could be
(would be)
to each other

years continue to pass
sisters continue to grow
the occasional text
or trivial conversation
both in pursuit of separate lives

but doors can’t stay shut
to family
and it’s hard to put the people you love
in a box

the youngest grows out of her home
and reputation
she stays true to herself
and blooms

it started with a sketch
of dreams
it grew into a mission
to achieve

her patch of trouble
she is happy
and healthy
and strong


the oldest is proud
and raises a glass in cheers
the youngest abstains
but smiles just the same

those troubles were lessons


something shifts
the pitch changes
walls fall like dominoes

these sisters not only grow
to know
each other
but also to
each other

they countdown the days
until reunions

because they are family
in this game

2 thoughts on “An Ode to My Sister

  1. That poem brought tears to my eyes Staci. Real tears. I’m beyond happy you now have this friendship with your sister. I know mine with my sister is probably the most important after my own children. Congratulations on finding your greatest ally.

  2. This entire article made my whole day. I can’t wait to print this poem off and frame it. I want to show everyone this post! see you in June 💕

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