Whatever else we are, at the root, we are the Fenwick sisters. I am the oldest, my sister Wendy is in the middle and Kathy is the youngest.
Now that our mother lives on Memory Lane in a long-term care facility, and our childhood home has been sold, we must make the effort to stay connected. We met for brunch to celebrate Wendy’s birthday. We laughed and caught up with each others lives – our work, our children, our sorrows and our celebrations.
To commemorate all that we’ve been through this last year and to commit to our faith in each other and sister love, my niece Allison suggested we all get tattoos. Allie is smart and beautiful with a tender heart. She’s studying to be a nurse. She suggested a quote from the Lion King, “remember who you are.” She knows me well enough to know that while I’m all for solidarity, it’s not likely I will get a tattoo. I change my mind often and a tattoo seems like a really permanent kind of choice.
I figured I’d settle for a photograph to remember this day, one like so many others, when we all stood in a row and smiled and hugged each other and had our picture made. Thanks to Allie for being the shutter bug.
As I pulled away from Mason Dixon café, no lie, my youngest sister was gleefully directing my niece, “Google tattoo parlors that open before noon!” And just like that, they were off!
My photograph was inspired by the powerful photography of Nicholas Nixon, Forty Portraits in Forty Years.
With each passing year, the sisters seem to present more of a united front. Earlier assertions of their individuality — the arms folded across the chest, the standing apart — give way to a literal leaning on one another, as if independence is no longer such a concern. We see what goes on between the sisters in their bodies, particularly their limbs. A hand clasps a sister’s waist, arms embrace arms or are slung in casual solidarity over a shoulder. A palm steadies another’s neck, reassuring.
Pictures like these matter. Everyone won’t be here forever.