Sister 'throwdown' puts things in perspective


Oh, sisters! There’s nothing quite like them, right?

They are there to lift you up when you are feeling down, tell you when a dress makes your butt look too big, tell you what to do and even be your best friend.

My sister, Jessica, and I are five years apart. For all intents and purposes, and to playfully annoy her, she is the older one.

We are opposites, we look similar, we have different views on a great many things, but we meet in the middle.

As we were growing up, we fought and picked on one another as young sisters do.

I was good at hiding my “life-savings” and Jessica became good at finding it. We fussed over whose turn it was to wash the dishes. (We still do that, by the way.) Bickering and my Mom getting onto us was an everyday thing.

Siblings do those little things to annoy one another. We did not always get along growing up.

A few nights ago, I went to have dinner with Jessica and my nieces to catch up and hear all about their recent trip to Disney World.

Afterward, we drove to Target to do some shopping, as per normal routine.

We were standing in the book department when I heard a woman yelling in the aisle across from us.

I looked up and saw an older woman attempting to break up a fight between her two young daughters, one of which was pregnant. All I saw was fists flying and hair pulling.

For about a second I stood there frozen, and then instinctively yelled at them to stop. I dropped the book I had in my hand and walked over to them.

Other people stood there and watched, but as soon as they saw my sister and me moving quickly toward them they stopped fighting.

We asked if they were okay and their mother, visibly embarrassed, had tears in her eyes.

I scolded the pregnant one and the younger of the two would not even turn around to look at me as I tried to reason with them. There was a small baby in the basket just watching it all play out.

The mother said, “They’re just being sisters. You know?”

I was focused on the other two and my sister beat me in replying to the mother with, “We are sisters and we have NEVER done that to each other!”

A sense of pride came over me as I watched Jessica tell the mother that. They calmed themselves down and disappeared out into the store.

I was furious!

What could have seriously been worth throwing punches over in a Target store’s baby department?

We never found out, and frankly, it did not matter. I just would have never dreamed of punching my sister like that in any age/condition, let alone in front of a parental figure or child in a Target store.

I thought about this all weekend and it is still bothering me.

In this life, some of us are very fortunate with the gift of siblings. In the end, sometimes they are all we are left with and that is true in our case.

Jessica and I learned at a young age how precious life is and what we mean to one another. I cherish and appreciate the relationship I have with her.

We have lost our younger sister and both parents. Despite the losses and the different motions of grief processes we have gone through, we have stood by one another.

I was there when both my nieces were born and I have helped her with them along the way. Jessica has witnessed some of the best and worst times I have had in my life. She has been there to cheer me on.

There have been times in our life when it seemed like it was us against the world.

A strong sibling foundation is what we have always maintained and that is what we are trying to instill in my nieces, as well.

It is not always easy – siblings disagree, but at the end of the day, we are sisters and nothing can ever change that.

There is no fight and absolutely no reason worth destroying your sibling relationship. As adults, we have angered one another, but we move on, eat our feelings and pick up where we left off.

If you have a sibling and you haven’t seen or spoken to them recently, please reach out. Spend some time together and don’t wait until it’s too late. Life is short and the best memories we have are the ones spent with the people we love.

I could never imagine my going through this life without Jessica. I am grateful that the greatest gift our parents ever gave us and left us with was one another.


 Erika Vela is a South Texas native. Her column Paloma Libre, or “Free bird,” will appear periodically. Email her at