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. In what has become an annual tradition–for now anyway–I’m re-posting this edited version.

Five years ago, in 2014, I was out of town at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and missed being here for her birthday. So I put together something special to make up for being away, because we always celebrated our birthdays together.

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 b I wish I still had that pompom skirt!

California girls in our sundresses.


girls 1


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.

In New York, we took dance classes and wore hats.



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. (2019 update: I am temporarily on the disabled list for tap class, but I’ll be back! I’ve loved dancing with her teacher and the wonderful “girls” in the class.)


      Two in tutus

With our Grampa Mike

gramps and us


hats 2

                                                                                                                 We wore hats in California too

Ah, the early teens. . .Everyone has an awkward stage at this point, right? Hoo boy. But I kind of like this picture because we are now taller than the hedge and it doesn’t show in the background.


girls 2

   Middle school years

These were perhaps the coolest dresses we ever had. Her hair looks perfect here! No more glasses, either.


The Mod Squad

She goes off to college, but not too far away from home.


And her hair keeps getting longer! Did I say I wasn’t going to just focus on hair this time? Can’t help it.


Fast forward: a niece to play with!

little caitlin

Celebrating her birthday, a few decades years ago.


Skipping ahead  to 1980…Welcoming a new baby boy.

baby myles

A post chicken pox picture: Goofing around with the kids.



Caitlin wears a big hat; Myles looks confused.

We went on a couple of “sisters only” adventures–and this time we ended up in hot water.


On June 6th, 1986, Aunt Sooz helped welcome my son James into the world. She took some pictures and got to hold the brand-new baby!

james born

cutting the cake

                                                                                       Helping cut the cake at our 25th anniversary party


At Caitlin and Christian’s wedding June, 2001


Caitlin is wearing a different hat in this picture


w aunt ruth

Celebrating Chuck and Rockie’s anniversary with the family. We’re on a boat with our Aunt Ruth



Several years later, my son Myles got married.

dancing with the groom

     Aunt of the groom

Another wedding! James was the groom this time.



Aunt of the groom again


As her niece and nephews start their own families, Great Aunt Sooz gets to hold the babies and play with them as they grow up.


sooz with M2

     With baby Madeleine

great aunt

               With baby Fenton


 And, most recently, with baby Ezra

      With baby Ezra

Soooz and Sam                                                                                           With baby Sam

Sadly, Susie was not here to welcome the newest members of the family: Asher in 2017 and Violet Grace in 2018.


And here she is, on another birthday, many years ago…An April birthday means you get a bunny cake. Two bunnies, in fact.

bunnies 1









Susie, you are always in my heart and on my mind. Miss you every day.



One of my favorite pictures of us


41 Responses to On the occasion of my sister’s birthday

  1. Harriette Louie says:


    Wonderful memories. Beautifully chronicled, Lovingly assembled as only a sister can do.


  2. Jan Brown says:

    Dear Risa,

    What a great gift to all who know Susie (and you). Keep me on your mailing list. I can hardly wait until Susie turns 70! Thanks for capturing and sharing the essence of a life well-lived and loved. Beautiful!


  3. Janet Peterson says:

    Hi Risa, How lovely, both the sentiments and the photos! It’s wonderful to know 2 sisters who are such good friends. Best, Janet

  4. Finally got to see the hamentaschen everyone’s talking about! Wonderful tribute! (My sister’s birthday is also April 9. I did not do anything quite so wonderful.) Bad sister.

  5. Jennifer says:

    What fabulously rich memories you share with your sister. You are truly blessed!

  6. Kathy Selleck says:

    What a sweet tribute to your sister. I’m going to steal the idea for my little sister’s August birthday. It’ll be such fun taking the time (anti-“busyness” after your last post) to go through the photos and resurrect all the great memories.

  7. Karen Mayers says:

    Loved your photos and loving memories of growing up together. You have a wonderful relationship.

  8. Kim Tackett says:

    Risa, love all the pictures…but that last one…oh, it’s spectacular. Happy Birthday to both of you!

  9. What a lovely tribute from one beautiful sister to the other. I loved watching the two of you in these photos. And, btw, I had the same glasses. Grr…

  10. Frances Lefever says:

    You are both adorable and lucky to have each other!!
    What a lovely effort you made for your sister!
    Xoxo Frances

  11. Risa says:

    Frances, thanks so much. And thanks for stopping by!

  12. What a lovely tribute to your sister. I grew up with 4 brothers and always wanted to have a sister.

  13. Roz Warren says:

    This is wonderful! My sister and I are also 2 l/5 years apart. I’m the older one. She’s always been my best friend — but she, too, has some scars. What a great tribute to the bond sisters — if they’re lucky — can share.

  14. Risa says:

    Thanks for stopping by. Yes, scars are inevitable, I’m afraid!

  15. Marcia Cohen says:

    Risa, I don’t remember seeing this beautiful tribute to Sooz (though I may have, but can’t believe I would not have commented on how moved I was by the gorgeous pix of you both & Sooz with the darling babies)…anyway, it could not have been more beautiful, honey….love, Marcia

  16. Sandy Wolfe says:

    As an only child, this beautiful tribute to sisterhood really touches me. I have traveled with many sisters and have seen beautiful relationships between sisters before. This always makes me happy to see and I am thrilled that my son, Geoff and his wife, Misha, are soon to have a third daughter. I love watching my granddaughters together and hearing them refer to one another as “sissy” at the ages of almost 2 and almost 5. I look forward to watching their relationship develop as they grow older.

  17. Laurie Stone says:

    Got a little teary-eyed over this one. The passage of time is so poignant. Your sister looked like a beautiful person. So sorry for your loss.

  18. Diane says:

    Tears here! Love this!

  19. Suzy Underwood says:

    Such a beautiful remembrance! Made me tear up a little, thinking of how important my sisters are to me. Terrible to lose her at such a young age, although of course it would be hard at any age.

    You are lucky to have such a wonderful collection of pictures! I especially love the hamantaschen costumes.

  20. Haralee says:

    Oh Risa you made me cry with such a sweet and loving testimonial to your big sister! I love that picture of the 2 of you on the bottom and the hamantashen costume is priceless. That is some craftsmanship in sewing! My older sister just turned 70 on the 8th. I will celebrate in person with her tomorrow and feel blessed that I still can and I am so sorry for your loss. My heart aches for you.

    • Risa Nye says:

      Yes, it’s so important to spend those special occasions together for as long as you can. Thank you so much, and next time you see her, give her a hug from me!

  21. So very special… I loved every photograph and notation you made. Somewhere I hope she’s loving it as well. Brenda

  22. Lynne says:

    What a beautiful tribute. Love the photographs. Sending you hugs.

  23. What a lovely tribute to your sister. I’m writing out my sisters 51st birthday card today, and thinking about all the lovely photos I have of the two of us.

    She always had better hair than me.

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