Sisters offer their “Satellite” tributes

?Not every conversation will change your life, but any conversation can.? ?The Satellite Sisters

?The Satellite Sisters? is a syndicated radio show created by and featuring five real life sisters, The Dolans. Family and friendship are their platforms.

In their book, ?Satellite Sisters? UnCommon Senses,? each sister talks about the five most important senses in their lives: a sense of connection, sense of self, sense of humor, sense of adventure and sense of direction.

On a recent vacation at sea, my own sisters?minus one, to our disappointment?myself, and our mom had the chance to tap into all of those senses and more. (Even the one about direction, if not implied literally.)

Unlike the Satellites, we don?t have a nationally syndicated show, a book, or a Web site. You can?t find us on XM Radio. And we?ve never been featured on ?Oprah? or in Time or People magazine.

(Wow, when you string those together, we sound a little lame.)

Never mind that. We all grew up in the same house and we?re real sisters, too. And now, with all of us in our 30s and 40s, we?ve seen enough to understand the significance of more than 120 consecutive hours of complete abandon.

After our excursion, they all volunteered to make this week?s column a collaborative effort, which I appreciate on many levels. Sure, there are the deep and psychological ones based on respect and heritage. But let?s not overlook the level stacked with a week?s worth of laundry. I really needed the extra time to finish that last load.

My mother is absent from this alliance as she is presently flying south for this early burst of winter. She has no time for our antics, published or otherwise. But she?ll be back?we have her grandkids.

In her absence and honor, we?ve compiled our own ?Satellite? inspired tributes to time well spent at sea.

n Cindy (the first of eight): I always take the scenic route. It comes from growing up with an appreciation for rocks, trees, water and the sky. About 15 months ago on my way to work on a drizzly morning, the sun burst through the clouds and illuminated a stunning rainbow in the western sky.

A couple weeks earlier, my mother had been diagnosed with cancer and I was needing a sign? a signal, anything from anywhere and anyone?that everything would be OK. I didn?t expect a rainbow.

Now, here we are, my mom and three of my sisters, celebrating the death of that dreadful disease, out in the middle of the ocean, with an active imagination of lifeboats, sharks and seeing ?Titanic? too many times.

I?m looking for a sign, a signal, a beacon that this was a good idea and wondering what Dad would have thought if he?d have lived to see us in our classy black dresses at the captain?s party.

I wasn?t expecting a dragon. But when you are 6, and your dad teaches you to sing ?Puff the Magic Dragon? it tends to stick. And there he was, Puff in all is glory as an ice sculpture at the midnight buffet. I didn?t know if I should laugh?or cry.

On the plane ride home, which by the way, we almost missed, my mom turned to me and said, ?Look…at the reflection.? It was her ring, caught by the sun?s rays, sending a million sparkling rainbow dots all over our laps.

I?m going to keep looking for signs. I like surprises.

n Kim (almost the youngest?but not quite): Not so very long ago our mom was diagnosed with cancer. After that battle was won, cruising to celebrate was our answer.

Just Mom and my sisters, headed out to sea. What a joyous adventure that turned out to be!

We laughed and relaxed. We enjoyed the shows. We snorkeled and shopped. We suntanned our toes.

The memories we made were priceless and fun. The blessing of family shined in the Caribbean Sun.

I thought of how our dad would have been proud to see us there. Celebrating life and laughing with the woman he loved so dear.

n Kelly (somewhere in the middle): I guess it?s my turn to throw in my two cents worth. Really, two cents. That?s my cut for this article. It should cover the cost of Shelley?s next birthday present.

Taking a cruise with my sisters and our mom was the trip of a lifetime, although I hope we are lucky enough to have other trips together in the future. (Next time, with all of my sisters. You know who you are.)

There is nothing like floating out to sea with no responsibilities, no cleaning or cooking, no children or husbands (bless their hearts) and no decisions more difficult to make than, ?What should I eat now? Is it too early for a drink? How do I find my room again?? (It?s a big ship?see lack of directional skills below). Overall, an ideal situation.

That being said, the cruise was only half of the experience. My oldest sister and my Mom traveled by plane to Houston, Texas, and then took a shuttle to Galveston. Easy enough.

My two younger sisters and I made the decision to drive to and from Galveston. None of us had ever attempted to make such a long car trip without a man to argue with over directions and wrong turns.

As I suspected, the stress level when driving with other women is relatively minor. My guess is that we had no unrealistic expectations that anyone in the car was a master map reader or even capable of knowing north from south without a compass. (Which I purchased exclusively for this reason.)

So, there was no cause to be frustrated or irritated when minor mistakes were made along the way. In fact, we all feel a sense of pride that we made it around and through Dallas and Houston without injury to body or mind.

As a bonus, the drive added a couple of days of extended vacation time before and after the cruise. We bonded, snacked, listened to a good book on tape and talked about all kinds of things only sisters can appreciate.

Thanks for the memories, girls!

n Shelley (the last oops): Ditto.

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