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  • Writer's pictureTracy Jones

The Value of Sisterhood

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

With today being Galentine’s Day, the informal holiday celebrating female friendship and sisterhood, I am overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude when I consider all the women whose friendships have impacted my life. From childhood to today, I have been blessed every step of the way.

My first and longest friendship began in first grade when I discovered that another little girl and I shared the same birthday. Julie and I became fast friends and spent the entire school year learning together, chasing after boys on the playground with our toy rubber red lips, playing after school, and experiencing our first sleepovers. At the end of first grade, we were saddened to learn that both of our families were building houses across town, and we would be starting second grade in what we thought would be different schools. However, as fate would have it, our parents ended up building houses in the same neighborhood and we spent our childhoods one street apart from one another. It was in this neighborhood where I would spend the remainder of my childhood and come to make several more lifelong friendships.

We would often wander the Hayesville community in search of fun and adventure. We all started as girls on play dates and sleepovers, graduated to preteens making prank calls and sneaking out, and grew into teenagers and young adults talking about boys and our futures. There were lots of shenanigans, tons of laughter, and some tears along the way, yet we survived all the craziness of childhood and are still friends to this day. When I look back upon this chapter of my life, the times spent with these amazing girls were the best part of my childhood.

After high school, my group scattered a little, but we still managed to find the same Happy Hours and Friday/Saturday night festivities. This period of young adulthood was filled with some of the wildest adventures NOT worth mentioning, but worthy recognizing the value of the tests it brought to our friendships. For in this period, we became women with our own individual destinies. Destinies that would further shape, define and enrich the qualities that have brought us closer as time has passed.

My destiny led me to marriage, motherhood, and military family life. It was at my husband’s first duty station at Ft. Polk Louisiana where I was blessed with my first friendship as an adult. Sherrie lived in the apartment above me and probably has no idea what a significant impact this occurrence had on my life. For the first time, I found myself in unfamiliar surroundings and without my family or friends. I was not only a young mother, but a military spouse which meant I would go through most everything life was going to throw at me on my own.

The experiences I went through there were nothing short of traumatic. My husband was deployed most of the time and was regularly unfaithful, we were struggling financially to survive as family of four on his early Enlisted pay, my infant daughter needed ongoing special orthopedic care, I had two children under the age of 3yr who required my undivided attention, I went through a tubal pregnancy/miscarriage, and it was Louisiana so it was hot, muggy and filled with bugs. If Sherrie had not extended her friendship my way or reached out with the only helping hands I would see for years, I don’t think I would have mentally fared as well as I did. We bonded through the hardships we faced, grew closer through the good times we created, and became Sisters through it all.

With Sherrie, I learned the true meaning of Sisterhood, which seems ironic as I both am and have a sister. I moved away, as so did she, but regardless of the time or distance we have seen each other through having babies, raising kids, being military wives and ex-wives, and everything in between. Up to this point, my family rarely if ever extended any support, but Sherrie was always there. She was a sister and accepted me as a sister. Truly unconditional, without expectations, without judgement and with a vision of myself that was greater than I could see at the time. I realized that while you might not get to choose the family you are born into, you will meet people in your life who will define what family means to you.

It was during the time and distance stage of my friendship with Sherrie when I found myself again in a new place. I was in Colorado, now a mother of three and still for the time being a military wife. It was there where my husband’s infidelities grew to be too regular to tolerate or live with. I was fading away with the inconsideration and isolation of the situation and although support was only a phone call to Sherrie away, I felt alone and overwhelmed. That’s when I met my sister Lilly.

She was a Colorado native and my first civilian friend in years! Our children were close in age, and we were both in similar marital situations, so it was natural that we would end up bonding through motherhood and the expectations of keeping a marriage and family together. Her friendship was salvation for me. Her free-spirited outlook on life was just the reminder I needed that I still had spirit left within me. I lifted my head up from the weight of responsibility and saw a beautiful world around me when I was with her. I reconnected with my athletic, curious, adventurous inner self as she took me to her favorite hiking and fishing spots and introduced me to her childhood friends. We were inseparable. However, our lives were both in a state of falling apart and these times were to be a beautiful footnote in our history. I left my husband to move back to the support of my family in my home state of Oregon, and she remained in Colorado for the time being. Her friendship reminded me that I was of value and deserved to live a life where I was loved and respected, and her spirit inspired mine to grow and flourish.

In 2004, I moved home to Oregon and quickly realized that the support of my family was not to the level of the unconditional support I’d grown to count on from my sisters. But I was grateful to have a safe spot to land and rebuild as a single mother and knew my sisters were only a call away. However, what I did not expect was that I would reconnect with the girls I grew up with, realizing that they were my sisters all along. Like the most heroic recurring characters in literature, they pop back into the narrative when they are least expected and most needed.

I rebuilt my life, remarried, and moved around Oregon a little before finding myself in Rockaway Beach, a small coastal town in Tillamook County Oregon. With my network of sisters closer than ever, I went through life’s various ups and downs feeling supported and strong. So, when I found a motherlode of sisterhood at the beach, I figured it was just because I was a better sister and a better friend. I started working at a local real estate office and met and entire office full of women who have done nothing but inspire and support. From there I went on to befriend a community of woman who set themselves apart from the rest as good neighbors, positive business associates and faithful friends. I really didn’t think life could get much better, until I decided to work two jobs and met the women who work up at South Fork Forest Camp and for Oregon Department of Forestry. Altogether, I was blessed with the best network of sisters one could imagine. For life brought the tragedy to put it all to the test. In September of 2019, my second husband lost his life in a motor vehicle accident. As my life was falling apart, my tribe of sisters were there keeping me together. From their help organizing his memorial service, to their support as I went through every stage of grief, they were there every step of the way.

Here I am, still single and still rebuilding my life, but with the feeling that my life could not be fuller. Of course, I would love to have a special someone to celebrate Valentine’s Day with, but until that someone comes into my life, I can only work with was I have. I have a network of sisters around the globe who inspire, motivate, and support me. I have unconditional love and acceptance from people who have stood by my side in comfort during the worst and stood behind me in support during the best. With them, I have everything.

So, to my first childhood friend Julie, to my Hayesville sisters, to my Waldo Jr. High sisters, to my McKay High School sisters, to Sherrie and Lilly, to my RE/MAX and Realtor sisters, to my South Fork and ODF sisters, and to my Tillamook County sisters, wherever you find yourselves today, I want you to know how much I love and appreciate you all! Your unconditional love and friendship are reminders that I am worthy of such gifts! Your resilience and endurance inspire me! Your inner strength and beauty bring light into this life! Your intelligence, wit and bravery motivate me! You are the value that defines friendship and sisterhood.

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