It is March, Women’s History Month, a month to honor women for their accomplishments and contributions to history, culture, and society. It is a time to love, to honor, and to recognize women and to show respect and have compassion for their challenges. 

I was talking on the phone to an old friend in my hometown.  She told me that she and her sister now shared their late parents’ house.  

“I really love my sister, but,” she said, “My sister needs to get over herself at her old age.”  

I asked her what she was talking about. 

She said, “My sister has always competed with me about everything. She seemed to envy me about the most insignificant things. If our mom gave us each a piece of cake, she was busy looking to see if my piece was larger than hers or if hers was smaller than mine. If we got dresses or shoes, she wanted others to tell her which they thought was better or prettier. She would even try to get the same thing if she heard or thought others preferred whatever I had. I thought she would outgrow that mindset, but she has not.  Now that we live together, I see that she is the same as she was as a child, if not worse. If I happen to be outside and speak to someone, she comes outside to speak to that person, too. If we go to a restaurant, she will usually wait to see what I order and order the same. If I say something about the clouds, the weather, the temperature, the wind, a building, a person, a news item, a TV show, a celebrity, her comments will suggest that she was already thinking the same thing as I.It really annoys me.”  

I asked my friend why it annoyed her so much. 

She was not sure.  She said she did not know if it annoyed her because she felt her sister was denying her individualism or that she was annoyed at her sister for not being comfortable with herself and therebydenying her own individualism.  She wanted her sister to be her own true individual self. 

I said, “What you have told me makes the first couple of lines of an old Sesame Street song come to mind. Remember?  ‘One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn’t belong. …’  We can substitute persons for ‘things’, and obviously, you and your sister are different.  At your late ages, I think you should just take her behavior as a compliment and relax. She’s not about to change now.  What do you think?” 

“You are probably right, but it will not be easy,” my friend said, then continued while laughing, “Humph. So, I am the one who has to change her attitude at my old age.  The joke is definitely on me.” 

“Indeed, it is,” I said and laughed, too. 

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...