Category Archives: sisters

On the occasion of my sister’s birthday

girls a

Yes, our mother made us both wear the hamantaschen costumes

It’s April 9th, my sister’s birthday. Four years ago, in 2014, I was out of town at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and missed celebrating with her. So I put together something special to make up for being away. Today I will spend the day with some of her good friends, sharing stories and memories. (I posted this in previous years also.) In case you missed it, here it is again: a recycled virtual birthday card:

When Susie turned 50, I did a retrospective of her many bad hairstyles over the years. She loved it! Obviously, I can’t do that again. Instead, I’m sharing some of our  history in photographs.

I went through my many piles of pictures and albums and tried to select some classics from over the years.

Many of the pictures from the early days are of the two of us, usually posed on the front lawn of the house in Richmond where we grew up. The hedges always look like they need pruning.

off the boat

Two babushkas right off the boat–with a jump rope, just in case.

girls 1

In our sundresses

girls b

Not dressed for the same party. Wish I still had that pompom skirt.

We’re two and a half years apart, so we played together pretty well most of the time.I have a few scars, however. . .

We lived in New York City for a year in the 1950s. She was in third grade and I was in first. We struggled with our new snow clothes, rode the subway, and tried many new kinds of food. I got the mumps first, and gave them to her. The measles too. It was a big year for childhood diseases.


On the sidewalks of New York

Back in California, where the hedges still needed pruning, we took tap and ballet lessons. She went further in ballet, and took up tap again several years ago. (2018 update: I am now also taking tap lessons with her teacher and the wonderful “girls” in the class.)


Two in tutus

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Days of Our Lives

I wrote this last year. Today would’ve been my sister’s 68th birthday: She was born on 4/9/49–a fact that always made her birthday seem more special. She is missed terribly by all who knew her. There’s an empty place at the table on this occasion, and all others when her friends or the family–whichever partsContinue Reading

Aunt Augusta’s Chair

 An excerpt from my book, in which a special chair follows our family through many transitions. This is from one of the “artifact” chapters that are woven into the story of the fire’s aftermath. There is only one black and white photo in the book, but there are so many more… I first saw thisContinue Reading

First Birthday

  My sister’s birthday is coming up in April. This will be the first time in over sixty years that I will not buy a card, select a gift, or have dinner with her. No candles, no cake, no celebration. The following month, in May, I will observe the first anniversary of her death—and thenContinue Reading

October: It’s almost over

Don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out, October. Ever since 1989 and the Loma Prieta earthquake, followed two years later by the Oakland Hills firestorm, I have not been a fan of October. Those two major disasters in two years leave me feeling uneasy the moment I flip the calendar fromContinue Reading

A tribute to my sister

C.J. Hirschfield–friend, columnist, and Executive Director of Oakland’s beloved Children’s Fairyland–wrote this beautiful tribute to my sister Susie. Delighted to be sharing it with friends, family, and the community.   A Tribute to Susie   In this picture, she’s cutting the cake at my 25th anniversary party. It’s not the first time she’d stepped upContinue Reading

Susie Moments

We held a celebration of my sister’s life a couple of weeks ago. Several of us spoke–family and friends–and this is what I read. So many of you have expressed your shock and grief over Susie’s passing, and have talked about the ways to keep her memory alive. I have a few suggestions. If youContinue Reading


I wrote this in March, 2015. Before…   The lobby smells like tragedy and sickness today. I look around to see if there are any signs of an accident of a personal nature—orange cones, a bucket and mop, yellow tape—but there is no sign of such a thing. The uniformed guy behind the desk doesn’tContinue Reading