HEAVEN

HEAVEN

From Chicken Soup for the Sister's Soul

Heaven

As you open the newspaper, the advertisement reads:

NO HUSBANDS OR CHILDREN
NO CLEANING FLOORS OR LAUNDRY
NO BALL PARKS OR CARPOOLS
NO FAST FOOD OR STYROFOAM CONTAINERS

Those of us who spend our lives completing these tasks on a daily basis might be drawn to the advertisement as a moth is drawn to a flame. Could this be an advertisement for Heaven? No, this is simply the recipe for the best weekend three sisters could have.

My sisters and I come from a traditional family of the fifties. We were brought up in a cookie-cutter neighborhood like every other family on the block. There was a mother, father, three children and two dogs. We went to a neighborhood school and stayed within the safety of our surroundings.

As the girls grew and the family changed, our mother designed a plan in her mind that would put the CIA to shame. She would make sure that her “girls” would stay close throughout their adult life, no matter how hard she had to work. She plotted every time the girls were together. “Why don’t you go out to lunch? Why don’t the three of you spend a day shopping? I’ll be more than happy to watch all the grandchildren,” were the words that rang clear each time we were together. Mother’s plan was succeeding. We actually enjoyed the time together, and we thought we were getting away with murder. After all, what could be better than a day out while Grand-mommie baby-sits all the children? Boy, did we pull the wool over her eyes! But this wolf in sheep’s clothing, we called Mother had formed a bond between the sisters that nobody could break.

As years moved on and Mother passed away, that feeling of being more than sisters but true friends continued to grow, as a sunflower on a summer day, always trying to reach greater heights. What would bring the sisters together more often than just holidays? When would the sisters have an opportunity just for themselves? A plan was needed. Thus, the birth of “Sisters Weekend.”

Just as the title denoted, the first few trips were just that. We would meet on Friday evening and return home on Sunday afternoon. The days were filled with sightseeing, shopping and talking. The evenings were filled with delicious dinners, movies and more talking. By the third year, we found that three days and two nights were not enough for all we wanted to accomplish. We also came to the realization that if we wanted to go outside the state, we would need more time. With the support of husbands and children, Sisters Weekend was expanded for one more day. Now the sisters were ready to explore new horizons.

As if planning the invasion of a small country, arrangements are made for the weekend. We place the names of all the locations that we would like to visit on the table, like a plate of fresh fruit ready to be picked. Then the feasibility of the trip is discussed. Limitations such as time and money mean certain destinations are eliminated or postponed to another year. Finally, a location is chosen and the planning begins. Each year a different sister takes charge of the reservations with input from the others. Hotels are investigated, restaurants are selected and all areas of entertainment such as shopping, sightseeing, historical sights and night life are explored.

With all the mandatory items covered, the fun begins. Each year, as part of the weekend, we celebrate with gifts. Lots and lots of gifts for every occasion. We give each other Sisters Weekend gifts, we celebrate each other’s birthdays, and if someone has reached a major goal such as a promotion, that is also a reason for something special. Next, wardrobes are given equal consideration. Who wants to go away without the perfect outfit for every occasion? Besides, any excuse to shop for a new outfit is a good one. Finally, it is decided what snacks will be brought and by whom. After all, the last deadly sin is to gossip about family, friends and work without something sinful to eat.

The day finally arrives, and the sisters all meet at a designated location. This changes each year since we are coming from different cities. The joy comes to a crescendo when all of us are face to face. The excitement permeates the room and people stare as if Tom Cruise had just entered the room. We fail to notice others around us. We are off on our yearly adventure. Look out, here we come!

Upon arrival at the hotel, we check in as quietly as possible. This isn’t always easy with all the suitcases, bags and boxes of goodies we carry. The next few minutes are often spent explaining to the desk clerk and bellman all about “Sisters Weekend” and all it implies. On our fifth anniversary, it was even more interesting. When we arrived at the hotel, they seemed to know all about us. We were afraid our reputation had proceeded us. Instead, all the desk clerk would say was that he knew about us and there was a surprise waiting for us. When we arrived at the room, we found three arrangements of a dozen red roses each. My middle sister’s husband wanted to help us celebrate. We were shocked beyond belief. It looked like a funeral had taken place in our room. Since the event first started, the husbands have wanted to be a part of the celebration. Each year they contribute something to the weekend. Sometimes they treat us to dinner, send flowers or provide us with after-dinner drinks and Godiva chocolates. It’s their way of always supporting the three sisters.

After settling into the room, the excitement mounts as if it were Christmas morning. The presents are handed out one by one. After all, we need to get the important things out of the way first. The gifts that are given are loving and heartwarming or funny, with hidden meanings only the sisters would understand. In only moments, paper flies everywhere as if the whirling winds of a tornado have swept though the room.

The next few days are filled with the enjoyment of being together, as if we were one. Our thoughts and dreams as well as any problems we may be facing are all discussed while shopping, sightseeing and eating. We talk way into the night about our lives during the past year. It is a time for the sisters to renew the bond that had been formed by my mother so many years ago.

The last night is always the hardest. Plans are discussed for next year’s excursion, but the thought that this year’s trip is over is always difficult. Tomorrow we will get on with our lives. This weekend, as short as it is, will be a moment, frozen in time, forever in our memory. We will share bits of the experience with others, but the very special moments we had will only be felt and remembered by the sisters.

Shelly Isenberg

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