By Shaindle Schmuckler / firstname.lastname@example.org
First there was one.
Then there were two.
Surprise, and then there were three.
We are the children of the Greatest Generation. We are first-generation Americans.
My sisters and I grew up in the same home with the same set of parents and the same extended family; however, each of us arrived in what seemed like a different family.
Our parents straddled two worlds, taking the traditions from the old country, learning and blending them with the traditions of their adopted country. Given that each of us arrived at different stages of their education, we each experienced wildly different rules and consequences, to which we helped one another adapt. My sisters and I quickly learned the art of the straddle.
The three Wieden (maiden name) girls were a devoted, well-oiled team. It was us, then everyone else. Don’t misunderstand: We were great kids (with a few not so great growing pains), close to our aunts, uncles and cousins. We were loving and respectful to my mothers’ (z”l) friends, aka “the goilz,” and with my fathers’ friends, aka “the boyes.”
Throughout our childhood and early teens, the three of us shared a bedroom. We virtually never sweated the small stuff. We learned that sharing is fun. We were always respectful of and compassionate with one another.
As we matured, we talked a great deal about how we were teaching our European parents to be parents of American-born children, such as teaching them correct pronunciation of words and even how to spell certain words with weird spellings. There were times we thought we would platz (crack up) with laughter at some of their innocent mistakes. With the greatest respect, of course!
When I had the opportunity to have my own room, my sisters helped me drag my mattress into the bedroom my sisters were sharing. We needed to be together. Eventually I saw the light and the advantages of my own room and moved my mattress to its intended spot near the window in the corner of my new bedroom.
We went on to college. We built families and careers. Although our lives dictated moving to different corners of the country, we were and are a sisterhood. Our values and our responsibility to humanity and to our Jewish heritage traveled with us. We continued our support and respect for one another’s work, choices and families.
We are always open to one another’s observations, from fashion tips and makeup to home décor.
One time, while visiting one of my sisters who was needed at work, I surprised her by covering her kitchen floor in linoleum tile. Black and white on the diagonal. It took just long enough to complete to ensure my eyes would not remain permanently crossed. No worries, she loved it.
One time another sister noticed my eyebrows were way too thin, making me look old. Don’t think for a moment I did not immediately change that little problem.
When we visit one another, we inevitably discover an article of clothing, jewelry, a CD or perhaps a household object we love. We are great sharers. When we return home, we try to find and purchase said item; more often than not, we snag it right then and there — with permission, of course. On one such visit, as I was assisting my sister from the West with her donations to Goodwill, I found a fabulous brown shirt. Life is good.
Sometimes we determine it’s an eye shadow we all should be wearing. Sometimes it’s the color rouge we should use, which, by the way, is far more effective and not as painful as pinching our cheeks. Sometimes it’s the shade of lipstick we all should wear.
For a number of years now, we have had Sister Birthday weekends, often choosing bucolic settings; this last time it was the rip-roaring city of New Orleans. It was in NOLA that the sisterhood determined our sister from the North had a new and perfect color lipstick. We always laugh so hard when we copy each other, just like when we were kids.
All three of us are wearing this lovely lipstick color, Sultra. We are the sisters of the traveling lipstick. We are the sisters who have worked hard for and been blessed with cool lives filled with loving family and dear friends. Most of all, in the grand scheme of things, we have one another.
This year we are the sisterhood of the traveling lipstick. Next year is still a secret, even to us.