About A Flag and a Sister

In about 3 hours, we will flip the calendar to June 14th.

The date is important for 2 reasons: it’s Flag Day, first declared so by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. But more important, it is the birthday of one of the kindest, most forgiving, loving and understanding people I have ever met; my sister Nancy Guthorn Harrington.

Growing up she was a little bossy, probably just a little resentful of having to take care of her younger siblings but when push came to shove, she was Mama Bear and she still is. Growing up in a “survival of the fittest” environment (with 7 siblings) being tough was our armor. We all had it and we still do. With Nancy, you would never see it and that’s what made it so powerful.

As the siblings grew older and apart, some by miles and some years, distance and time mellowed us. Careers, lives, relationships, birth, death, marriage, illness, sadness, kids, no kids, brought us together in different ways and for the most part, at different times. We have been, at best, asynchronous in the things that have shaped our lives.We can recite the dates of birth, deaths, weddings and divorces, the exact legally documented moments of the events that changed our lives but it is so much harder to name those moments when someone helped us reframe them, helped us make sense of them, and put them into context without judgment. And that is where Nancy mastered the art of humanity.

There is no blame or guilt, we’ve all got that in spades. There is love, there is listening, there is forgiveness, there is my sister.


2 Replies to “About A Flag and a Sister”

  1. It’s relationships like your and your sister’s that make me envious of the fact I never had a sibling! Happy birthday to Nancy and just so you know – you sound like a great sister, too!


  2. Dear Amanda,
    I had the privilege and pleasure of teaching with your wonderful sister. It was the beginning of an ominous school year, as my beloved team-leader and partner was literally on his deathbed. Nancy was stepping into his position and classroom, a harrowing task to say least! Nancy’s qualities and attributes you have described were immediately apparent upon meeting her. Within moments I knew our team was going to be okay, our students would be well served, and I, as the newly appointed team-leader, had a very smart cookie by my side!


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