In Which I Embarrass My Younger Sisters

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Olivia turned fifteen years old last week. Olivia and I have the same mother and father, but I am the oldest of the five Gaffron sisters and she is the youngest. I grew up playing games on a Texas Instrument TI-99/4A hooked up to a cassette player. Olivia has her own laptop and her school gave her an Ipad. We come from different generations, she and I.

My parents had four daughters by my ninth birthday. I often compared us to the four Ingalls sisters in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie” books, or else to the four March sisters in Louise May Alcott’s “Little Women.” (I like the “Little House” books much better than “Little Women.” Also, my sisters and I used to squabble over which one of us had to be Beth from “Little Women” because – spoiler alert – she dies at the end of the book.) Then, after some of us already had driver’s licenses and, ahem, high school diplomas, Olivia came along. We became Tevye’s daughters from “Fiddler on the Roof.”

I can’t figure out where the past fifteen years have gone. I spent part of that time starting my adult life and marrying Jonathan, as well as attending various graduations and weddings for the other sisters. However, I had planned on accomplishing so much more in the past fifteen years than I actually got done. Not that I begrudge Olivia for growing up, but geez, did she really have to do it so quickly?

Then I look at everything that my younger sisters have accomplished in the past fifteen years. Olivia writes quantities of short stories that she emails to Elizabeth (the high school English teacher) to critique. Olivia produces a much larger output of creative writing than I do. That’s just one example. I’m proud of all of them – Katie, Annie, Elizabeth, and Olivia.

Happy Birthday, Olivia. I can’t wait to see you perform in your high school musical next week.



  • Heidi

    Jen – this is just a lovely, lovely bit of writing… it made me smile on this rainy morning. I love all of you so much and am so proud of each of you.

  • Annie Bargielski

    Fifteen years has flown by for sure! I’m wondering where the last 32 years went. I can’t wait to see everyone next weekend! I love this picture of O, BTW.