Donna Smaldone
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Wednesday / April 11 / 2012

Sissy Laughter: the milk out your nose kind

Me and my Sissy. Pure, unadulterated joy. (April 2012)
Me and my Sissy. Pure, unadulterated joy. (April 2012)

Cut from completely different fabrics — she like our sweet-tempered Momma, me like our feisty Grandmother — my sister Debbie and I never thought we looked alike. That was until we were both in our brother Mark’s wedding, wearing the same exact dress, donning the same exact hair style.

As we emerged from the dressing room, a wedding guest remarked, “Wow! Are you twins?” Having never been mistaken for distant cousins let alone twins, we quickly returned to the dressing room.

Gazing in the mirror, first at our own face and then at the other’s, we chimed in twin-like unison, “Oh my gosh! We DO look like twins!”

With me nearly seven years older, the now all-too-frequent observation is much more delightful to my ears than hers. “They think I look younger than I am,” I explain with a smirk.

Married to an Air Force Major, my baby sister moves from state to state. And since Skip-n-I are both restless spirits, we move just for the sheer adventure. All this do-si-doing around the country has made it challenging for Debbie and me to spend time together. But with fierce determination, we always make room. And it is always worth it.

Most recently, Sissy-n-her-Chicks traveled to the great Adirondacks to visit with me during my birthday week.

Toots (aka: my 8-year-old niece Lainey) and Cha Cha (aka: my almost-3-year-old niece Caroline) April 2012 in Glens Falls, NY

Toots (aka: my 8-year-old niece Lainey) and Cha Cha (aka: my almost-3-year-old niece Caroline) April 2012 in Glens Falls, NY

Best birthday present. Evah!

From homemade french toast (which Debbie’s husband fondly describes as, “butter and cinnamon sugar with a side of bread”) to impossible-to-resist nightly petitions from Toots and Cha Cha to tuck them in, each day of their visit was like sucking fizz off the top of a fountain soda so none goes to waste over the side.

Sucker!,” my sister would chide as I surfaced from her daughters’ bedroom long after I submerged to tuck them in for the night.

I know! We picked the longest story we could find,” I readily admit, beaming at Debbie with pride for the loving, doting, selfless Mama she was born to be.

Then we sip wine. White wine. Cavit pinot grigio out of fancy glasses with red swirls. And we catch up on life. The kind of catching up you can only do in person, after the kids are in bed, when you’d trade time with your favorite pillow for sharing life with your Sissy Soul Mate any day of the week if you could — and this week, you can.

I have friends, good friends, even people I call best friends. But my sister falls into a special category as she is all of those AND my blood (…which I can now admit to with confidence since we’ve grown enough to look so much alike).

Debbie & Donna on Debbie's 30th birthday

Debbie & Donna on Debbie's 30th birthday

We share pain, we share love, we share laughter. Milk-out-your-nose laughter. The kind you see so authentically captured by my daughter in the picture at the top of this post. I love this picture because it encapsulates how uninhibitedly I live around my sister. How freely we engage with one another.

It’s the kind of connection I see mirrored in my young nieces. The beginnings of the bond of sisterhood that will last for all time.

I watch as Lainey covers Caroline with loyal affection whenever she gets hurt or feels left out. I watch as Lainey lovingly strokes her baby sister’s hair during the scary part of a movie. I watch as Lainey takes Caroline’s hand while we’re walking around the children’s museum so she won’t miss anything good. And I know the depth of emotion behind each strategic, protective move.

I know because I see me with my baby Sissy.

As I pet my sister’s long, enviable curls and we dream together about her girls’ future, we smile because we know they’ve found priceless treasure in one another. “Just like us!

16 responses to “Sissy Laughter: the milk out your nose kind”

  1. Laura says:

    I laugh with no one…like I laugh with my sisters…you know…the really great, side aching, tear and pee producing laughter…there is no better kind :o)

  2. Kim says:

    You have just describe the relationship I have with my “one and only sibling”, my best friend in the whole world… my sister, Sharold. Only, I am Debbie… the sister who is married to an Air Force member (now retired) and moving around the world- state by state and country by country. We used to put in our transfer requests based on how close to California (where she has resided since she turned 18) we could get. Now retired in NY, we live so far away. I miss her every single day of my life and count the days (each year) when we will get together. Visits are never long enough or frequent enough but they sure are jam packed with love and “milk out the nose”, laugh until your cheeks ache and your sides hurt, stay up way to late time! There really is nothing better than a SISTER!

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      I just love your description, Kim. What a beautiful gift you and Sharold so obviously share. Thanks for giving us a glimpse of the powerful bond you share, and how powerfully you cherish it.

      Love,
      Donna

  3. Karen Ulrich says:

    Jeez Louise, Donna! Another amazing article that made me cry…missing my sister.
    Love what you do.
    Karen

  4. Debbie says:

    awww- Love you, Sis!! Just chatting about our visit with a friend here today … she has a twin sister and asked me if I missed you more after we’ve spent time together (I *DO*!) She said she feels the same too after visiting with her twin. Nothing like a sister!! I love watching Lains and Caroline grow in their sisterly love too. xoxo

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Nothing like a sister… especially one like you! I miss you more after our visits, too!! I love you, baby Sissy! xo

      Love,
      Donna

  5. Elaine Racette says:

    You have just shared what I call “A Prayer answered” It was always my prayer and always will be that my girls are as close as you ARE to each other. Thanks for sharing, Donna. You made my day so special. I love you both so much.

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      I’m glad to have made your day so special, Momma. You should know that whenever Debbie and I get together, we ALWAYS call Mark so it’s like he’s right there with us, too. Thank you for raising us to love one another so beautifully!

      Love,
      Donna

  6. Kelly Moore says:

    I want a sister!!! 🙂
    What a beautiful description of your relationship. Thanks for sharing. I’ll put my box of tissues away now. 🙂

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      awww…Kelly!! You can come be our sister ANYtime!! Plus, we may as well start planning L&J’s wedding early!

      Love,
      Donna

  7. Julie says:

    Finally reading this after being on vacation all week. Your words have always been able to paint a picture for me!! And I love it!! I am calling both my sisters today!! 🙂 We drove thru Knoxville on our way home Saturday and had a 2 hour lunch with Karen…. and my heart has been aching ever since… I wish so badly that she lived closer!!! Thanks for sharing!! I love you!
    Love, Julie

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      As your sister noted above, there is no laughter like the laughter of a sister (with or without “Funny Shows”!) And you have two very beautiful ones, Jules. What a blessing to share such a bond. I love you, too.

      Love,
      Donna

  8. Meghan Samyn says:

    I LOVE this, Donna! This reminds me so much of Hailey and myself. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      I’m so glad, Meghan. ….I had a feeling it would! There is simply nothing that compares to a sister bond, especially when engaging in laughter. There’s just some stuff only sisters can understand.

      Love, Donna

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