What Do We Have in Common? by
(21 Stories)

Prompted By Siblings

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You know, that’s a good question. I’m the oldest. My sister is two and a half years younger. We had little in common when we were kids, didn’t play much together, and have little in common now. In fact, last night, on my uncle’s porch during happy hour, my sister said “we have nothing in common!” — and I said (’cause I’m the older sister and have to show her!) — “our parents!” We both laughed.

My sister and I might not have a relationship you can write a great story about, but I bet we'd both read that book!

But it’s a good question. What do we have in common? Besides biology, which hasn’t given us many obvious commonalities, a brother, parents, and a connection to the other people we’re related to?

Here’s what I’ve come up with.

  1. Love of books.
  2. Love of Maine.
  3. Distaste for arguments and politics and noise.
  4. Appreciation for music to listen to, sing or play (and for musicals).
  5. Preference for color and beauty and flowing things.
  6. Belief that our parents did the best they could with us, which was pretty good.
  7. Brown hair that was once browner than it is now.
  8. Divorces we recovered from just fine, thank you very much.
  9. A mother with a chronic illness that didn’t keep her from being a great mom.
  10. Delight in pretty earrings.
  11. High school but not much about the experience.
  12. A father with a deep love of science that we have each inherited but in different ways.
  13. A brother who loves books.
  14. Pleasure in yellow t-shirts.
  15. Pleasure in big windows and high ceilings.
  16. Need for (a lot) of alone time, which only one of us gets enough of.
  17. Appreciation for Skype and texting so you can plan to talk but you don’t have to interrupt someone who’s not in the mood.
  18. Love of Agatha Christie.
  19. A requirement for comfortable shoes.
  20. Love for each other.

I think that’s enough things. We weren’t born in the same state, didn’t go to the same colleges, didn’t (and don’t) excel at the same things, don’t have the same fears. We don’t live in the same place now, and I don’t expect we will. But she shared the world with me for many years, when we were vulnerable and trying to figure out who we were. Now that we’re in our fifties, it’s nice to have a person I can talk to who won’t judge me when I confess that I still feel vulnerable sometimes and am still trying to figure out who I am (although I do have a better idea these days….).

Our sisterhood may not look like one you can find in movies, but it’s ours. Hers and mine. And that’s the best thing we have in common, the fact of each other.

Profile photo of Jennifer Swanton Brown Jennifer Swanton Brown
Poet. Nurse. Teacher. Mom. Daughter. Sister. Knitter. Swimmer. Contemplative in training. Follow "A Twirly Life" (twirlyword.wordpress.com).

Tags: sisters, Maine, books, earrings
Characterizations: moving, well written


  1. John Zussman says:

    A lovely tribute to sisterhood. What’s especially poignant is that you were vulnerable together but don’t exploit that inside knowledge by judging each other now. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Patricia says:

    Can that photo really be you two? Cherubs!

  3. rosie says:

    This is lovely, you respect each other and you are honest and clear in your observations. That is more than many sisters and brothers share with each other.
    John is correct about the photo. I have one of similar style of my mom with two of my aunts. And this reminds me of that cherished photo.

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