These sisters span very similar heights—all slightly teetering between the 4’11 and 5’0 foot mark. Born in Macdony, IL (Macedonia to those of us who are not lucky enough to have been born there) in the late 1920’s into the mid-1930’s, they have seen more than most us will see in our lifetimes.

Their family farmed as The Great Depression swept across America in what has become known as the worst economic crisis this country has ever experienced. When most everyone was lacking something, this family cultivated as much love as they did corn, tomatoes, and beans.

Each going into differing sectors of the medical community, the three sisters moved multiple times throughout their careers, but fortunately, upon retiring, they ending up living within 15 minutes of each other, in an area around Nashville.

For several years now, they have made the Saturday morning yard-sale ritual a reality. This is a very important process. One sister will scan the newspaper and stake out the sales ahead of time; they will then congregate at one of their houses to drink coffee, trade vegetables from the garden, and dictate a plan.

You see, strategy is very important with this kind of thing. One must hit the correct sale at just the right time—when the good stuff has not been bought and the sale has not been deemed “picked over.”

Once the plan is made and the routes established, the excess junk must be cleaned out of the chosen yard-sale vehicle of the day to make room for more. Then, the supplies must be gathered. With the money bag full of quarters, dimes, and pennies in tow and any close-to-expiration grocery store coupons, they set out for the sale.

On this particular Saturday morning, I was awakened from blissful slumber to drive the three sisters on their weekly enterprise. After the pre-sale rituals were performed, we congregated in my car, and then, we were off!

At the first sale we visited, a Johnny Cash CD was purchased for the wallet-breaking price of 10 cents.

So then we were set—four women hustling down the highway through the “Burning Ring of Fire” to the next sale, chattering away about what store has the best deals that week or who won the award for the most achy back that day.

Our plan was somewhat altered, because when each sister would see something that her grandchildren absolutely needed, an early-morning call had to be made. More often than not, the grandchildren didn’t actually have to have that very specific thing that day, believe it or not.

So on we went to more sales, finding more bargains, making more new friends. We grew hungry after such an eventful morning—but not to worry—McDonald’s had their Sausage McMuffins on sale. This was a particularly wonderful sale item, because the top could be removed and eaten with jelly while the bottom half with the sausage could be eaten as a sandwich. I was honored to have been included in the senior coffee deal—55 cents off always helps.

As we sat eating and laughing, I took a second to reflect—I was in the presence of 80 years of love and faithfulness. They were steadfast. These sisters had been through it all together—the very happy moments and the very painful ones.

They had learned lessons that I hadn’t yet experienced. They had seen beauty that I can only yet imagine. They had fought and cried together. They had shared each other’s daily woes, responsibilities, and joys. They had cooked casseroles for each other through funerals and hospital stays. They had been honest with each other. They had hurt each other. And yet, they had held each other’s hands through life and leaned on each other when it was just a little too hard to stand alone.

I realized that not many people understand that kind of commitment. We live in a day and age that it is very easy to give up on people who make us angry, who don’t share our views, who we are afraid of, or who we think just can’t make us happy. We hastily commit to them when the times are good and happy and easy, and we quickly abandon them when the harder times roll in.

This sentiment is reflective of our society, which generally discards something that isn’t pleasant, or fruitful, or immediately appealing. It’s the easier way to go, but I think it’s pretty detrimental. Detrimental to our work ethic, detrimental to our spirits, detrimental to our hearts.

See, there’s something deep about sticking out that friendship, that relationship, that hard time; there’s something spiritual about not giving up on someone. There’s this connection that binds you together and helps you sleep in peace at night. It’s hard and it’s heavenly at the same time.

As we were leaving McDonald’s with full bellies, a gentleman in a large SUV who was backing out, almost hit me. Aunt Mary, who was in the co-pilot’s seat, addressed the man from the inside of my car, saying, “Well, mister, are you going to stop, or not?” I chuckled to myself because I knew that she had my back, as she always had and always would. 

Kate A. Fields is a biologist turned seminarian; she now studies theology through a biological lens. She is a lover of Christ, all things science, working for equality and mutuality in the church, a good cup of coffee, laughing until crying, and the triathlon. Though sometimes she can barely work a toaster, she enjoys writing about it and the joys and pains of the journey of life; she prays for a few traveling mercies along the way.

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