Nancy Roman

Second Hand Rose

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my sisters.

That’s me in the middle on the first day of school.  I was six, I think.  That would make Christine (on the left) ten, and Claudia (on the right) just shy of nine.

I loved my sisters.  Although my mother will tell you that we bickered constantly. And my mother is telling the truth.

Car rides were our particular battleground. My sisters each got a window in the back seat, with my baby brother between them.  He played the role of ‘Fence’.  I sat in the front between my father and mother. Because no one would sit next to me.  Chris still says she won’t sit next to me in the car.  She says it just wouldn’t be right.

I look at Christine smiling benevolently at me in this photo. Gee, I never remember her doing that. Her most common look was disgust. She was very grown up and I imitated (and annoyed)  her constantly. I read her library books. I played her records  (She had a 45 record carrier with Dick Clark’s picture on the front.  And Paul Anka records inside.) I drove her crazy. She was the smartest person I knew. Probably still is. And she smiles at me now like that.

Back when this picture was taken, Claudia’s whole mission in life was to make me laugh. Especially in photographs. How she could make me laugh!  She was hysterical. At least I thought so at six. I was in constant peril of wetting my pants every time a camera came out. She was the funniest person I knew. Probably still is. She was born the day after Thanksgiving, and we always celebrated her birthday on Thanksgiving Day. For years she thought that we were giving thanks for the joy of her birth. I think we were.

We weren’t rich. But we didn’t feel poor either. We were just like everyone else in the neighborhood. Lots of two-family houses, lots of kids, lots of grandparents – many of whom didn’t speak much English.

With two older sisters, my wardrobe was predetermined. I wore mostly hand-me-downs.

I know many women who say they resented having to wear their sisters’ old clothes. I can understand why – but it’s funny – I never felt that way.

My sisters were my role models.  I wanted desperately to be just like them. And I got to be like them a little bit when I put on their hand-me-downs. And it instilled in me the opposite of jealousy.

Oh, I was plenty jealous of my sisters. I wanted those thick curly pony tails. I wanted a later bedtime. But I didn’t have to want their clothes. I got them. And I wasn’t jealous when they got something new. I wanted nothing more than for them to have the prettiest clothes in the world. I was thrilled with every beautiful new dress they got. It was only a matter of time before it was mine.

And this was not only when I was a dumb little kid. I wore Christine’s bridesmaid’s gown to my Junior Prom. And I was delighted to wear that gorgeous dress.

Now that we are older, people constantly remark on how much we look alike. We laughed about it again yesterday at the Thanksgiving table.

I wanted to be just like them when I was small. And now I am. Can’t do much better than that.


  1. Sweet, sweet post! My sisters were 15 and 16 when I was born, so I never wore their clothes. BUT – mom had saved my sister , June’s, bike, and that’s what I rode when I was old enough!
    You’re so fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with your sisters.


  2. Such a lovely tribute to your sisters!


  3. What a beautiful thought for the day after Thanksgiving. My sister was 14 years older than me and I wanted to be just like her for most of my life. My mother made her a gorgeous dress for Easter one year and I threw a tantrum to have a dress just like it. So my mother made me one just like my sister’s and I was thrilled. We went to church dressed exactly alike and I wore a huge smile the whole day. I was a grown-up before my sister told me that she was 17 at the time and much less than thrilled to walk around holding my hand wearing identical outfits. Luckily she can laugh about it now!


    • Seventeen and dressed like your three-year-old sister… your sister was truly a SAINT! I imagine it was quite a few years before she could laugh about it! But you two must have been adorable!


  4. I do like this line “And it instilled in me the opposite of jealousy.” How wonderful to reunite yesterday.


  5. What a lovely story — and how lucky for you all to still be close enough to be Thankful together.


  6. RVingGirl

    Terrific. Sisters are the BEST…………..
    I could picture you as a child and then yesterday all together. I miss my 3 sisters! aweeeee


  7. Ah, yes….I only had brothers who were 16 and 18 years older. I did want to be like them although I was a girly girl and not a tomboy. I was especially close to the younger one. I remember very special days when he introduced me to coke (coca cola that is) and pizza! We are still very close today and as it turns out, his wife is more like an older sister to me. (Yes, she gave me hand me down clothes until her size ballooned and mine didn’t!) We still take vacations together. Lovely post that makes us think about our own families.


  8. I loved reading about you and your sisters and made me think how nice it must be to have one or two or…
    just a brother for me so I enjoyed your share.


  9. My sister and I fought tooth and nail until our parents finally granted us separate bedrooms. Then we became inseparable. Go figure. 🙂

    I was the oldest sister, so my hand-me-downs came from my cousin instead. The saddest day of my life was when I outgrew her in my teens. She was thirteen years older, and she lived in the city. Her clothes were so sophisticated. Sigh.


  10. Sisters. Oh yes. I had FOUR of them. I was the oldest so there were no hand-me-downs going my way but to the sister born after me. Everybody else wore second-hand clothes until my mom got the idea to make the same dresses FIVE times for church on Sundays. (She made everything we wore. We kind of looked like the Van Trapp family I guess. I didn’t mind then even though she thought this up when I was around 13.

    Nice post. Nice reminising.


    • The Van Trapp Family! As long as your mother didn’t make your clothes out of the curtains…


  11. Sweet, Nancy. You seem like such a life-lover. I am one of three girls, and I could just say… ditto.


  12. Hi-
    Happy Thanksgiving, I have chosen you for the Liebster Blog Award… just follow the directions on my post and have fun. Love reading your site always.


  13. What a beautiful ‘ode’ to the joys of sisterhood. Being the oldest – my experiences were a little different..but I am forever grateful for the bonds and love! Hope your Thanksgiving was warm and wonderful! (Love your new blog ‘look’ – by the way!).


    • Thanks for noticing my new blog format. I have had a few emails from readers telling me that they couldn’t figure out how to comment – I think because the format I was using just had a little “Quote Bubble” and not the word “Comment” or “Reply”. So I thought I would try something new.


  14. JSD

    Such a wonderful story! My family was exactly like yours, but with another brother thrown in between you and Claudia, and I was the Christine in our family. My sisters are my best friends! I think we all appreciate each other so much more as we’ve grown older.


    • I have a little brother – six years younger. All us girls adored him and picked on him. It’s a miracle he turned out as sweet as he did.


  15. I love the picture. It was really refreshing to read that you didn’t mind getting hand-me-downs because you loved your sisters’ clothes! I think it’s fabulous that you admired them so much!


  16. What a beautiful tribute to your sisters. You are truly blessed by your relationship with them. I had three older sisters to idolize, but they were MUCH older (teenagers when I was born). Because of that age difference I really never got to be one of the crowd — just the little sister they all babysat for. I do remember that when we were adults my second sister, Jean (who was a successful business woman) gave me a beautiful suit that she was tired of (or just saw the longing in my eyes for it). I was a stay-at-home mom at the time and didn’t really have a need for such a beautiful suit in my wardrobe, but I enjoyed just seeing it hanging in my closet (next to my sweats 🙂 ). Thanks for bringing back those great memories for me of MY older sisters.


  17. I absolutely loved this post; it’s so heart-warming when suddenly your sister goes from a sparring partner to a best friend!


  18. Talk to me...I'm your Mother

    I love my sisters. Even the ones who are gone are with me in my head and heart.


  19. Adorable photo – you all look so happy. I have 2 sisters too – and I love them to pieces. And I’m even the middle one – that pain in the #** one – the Marsha, Marsha, Marsha one. I stopped by here because I received a Liebster award a few days ago too and it meant a lot to me since I’m pretty new at blogging but loving the connection and cyber-friends. I think you were on Prairie Wisdom’s list – but see, I’m in the “not quite old” category too and sometimes I forget. However I got here – happy I did.


  20. Love the new look of your blog. Love the photo and the story you weave around it. Love the way you write from your heart to ours. Can’t get much better than that.


  21. Your new blog look is wonderful.
    Love this story of sisters. There is absolutely nothing like the bond of sisters.
    I am one of three sisters as well, the oldest, and we had a younger brother as well. My youngest sister died recently, and there is a hole in the family. Sisters are amazing!


  22. Which one peed the bed? I know with three, one had to.


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