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T alking with a sister is like talk- ing with no one else. You don't have to do what she tells you to do. You just need to care enough to hear her out. My mother had eight sisters, all different personalities. They loved each other fiercely, fought like cats and dogs and always had each other's backs. My sister and I rarely fight. In some ways, we're a lot alike. We have the same laugh. Same toes. Same love for each other's children and grandchildren. Same taste for sensible shoes, fried food and bad movies. But on the whole, we're about as different as two people from the same gene pool, raised by the same pack of wild Southern women, could possibly be. We know things about each other that no one else knows. We share a history, a lifetime of experiences and feelings that lend meaning and con- text to most everything we talk about, past, present or future. When one of us talks, the other listens, nodding as if to say, "Amen, sister, I hear you." I tell her things I don't tell my husband or children for fear they would worry. Believe it or not, I even tell her things that I might not tell you. We are sisters, she and I. And sisters are one of God's great- est gifts in life. They can also be one of God's greatest curses. My sister, for example, once tried to shoot me. Yes, with a real gun. Why? Does it matter? She claims she did it because I poured a Diet Pepsi down her pants. Which, OK, I did, but she had it coming. Never mind why. My mistake was pouring the Pepsi at the exact moment she happened to pick up a gun. Her mistake, lucky for me, was that she missed. You'd think a woman her age would be more forgiving. If you think that, you don't know my sister. Had she killed me, she says, she would have gotten off scot-free due to circumstances known in the South as, "the fool needed killing." Whatever. Gifts and curses go hand in hand. Like it or not, sisters take one with the other. And they always have each other's backs. My sister has always been more of a blessing than a curse. After our parents split up when we were little girls, she told me not to worry because sisters never got divorced. When I went off to college and left her with three babies and a bad marriage, she told me to look good, have fun and make her proud—in that order. When I married a high school basketball coach, she flew out to California to be in my wedding. Years later, when the coach died of cancer, she put me to bed and made me rest. Then she took me to Mexico, and made me pose for a photo with her and a live chimpanzee. Finally, when she met the man who is now my husband, she told me flat-out that if I didn't marry him, she would. She has always listened when I needed to talk and always said what I needed to hear, whether I wanted to hear it or not. That's what sisters are for. But not all sisters are born to each other. Some are chosen. I have one sister by birth, but others I've "adopted." We don't always see each other as often as we'd like. But we know each other well from all the times we've spent sharing what's in our hearts and in our lives. When one of us needs to talk, the other makes time to lis- ten, as soon as possible. We say what needs to be said, whether we want to say it or not. And we always have each other's backs. Everybody needs a sister. Some of us need several. If you don't have one, be one to someone and hope that in turn, she'll be yours. Listen when she needs to talk. Say what needs to be said. Always have her back, and trust her to have yours, too. But if you ever feel the need to pour a Pepsi down her pants—trust me, it could happen—just make sure she's not holding a gun. Sharon Randall is a syndicated columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. This column is used by permission. She divides her time between the Monterey Peninsula and "Las Vegas of All Places." She can be contacted at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson, NV 89077 or at 44 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2 0 1 6 POSTCARDS FROM HOME S H A R O N R A N D A L L After our parents split up when we were little girls, she told me not to worry because sisters never got divorced. Sister Act

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