We were known as the Hoitenga sisters, four of us born within eight years of each other. If one of us ran into an acquaintance of another, there was enough of a resemblance that we’d hear, “You must be a Hoitenga.”

We wore our sister status with pride. We were normal sisters who loved each other and who disagreed on most things regarding politics, churches, husbands, kids, careers, appearances, wardrobes, books, and, you name it, and we could have a robust discussion.

For example, we were all dishwater blonds–but one splurged on highlighting in a salon, another had her daughter frost her hair by pulling it through a cap, another used a total hair-color bottle approach at home. Me? I’ve done all but the total bottle approach.

One of us shopped at Talbot’s, another at Nordstrom, another at Penney’s, and another at Macy’s.

And don’t talk to us at election time! How could we differ so much when we had the same mutual respect for our fellow human beings, our country? And the same beliefs about God?

But it’s those differences that glued us together. Never holding back. Being true to ourselves while also respecting the others. Before emailing came into existence, and always living in different cites from Toledo to Seattle, we kept in touch by a Round Robin. We included our sister-in-law and, theoretically, when we got the Round Robin letter, we were suppose to move it on within a week. That didn’t always happen and the advent of email bailed us out. I used to joke that one day, one of us would wake up to no emails from sisters.

Well, now it’s no joke. Last week I buried the last of my three sisters. (I buried my brother in 2005.) Only my sister-in-law and I remain, the oldest and the youngest.

Of course, the enormity of this latest loss has not hit yet. But I do know for sure that I’m the only Hoitenga sister left. And there’s something very sad about that.

The Rev. Dewey and Mrs. Tess Hoitenga Family, about 1947, West Sayville, Long Island, NY
A Hoitenga sister meet up in Grand Rapids, MI some years ago! Rose has the chic Nordy’s look!
With Rose in AZ two years ago. She died at 86 on 10/12/21.
With my SIL Kay and sister Esther. Esther died at 80 on 4-9-17.
My sister Kay and I graduated from the same nursing program seven years apart. She died at 78 on 10/6/12.

I’m almost 80. Our mother lived till 95 and our dad till 90. The discrepancy in ages at death in my family puzzles me. When will it be my turn?

A friend asked how I feel about losing all my siblings. I answered the first thing that came to mind, “Not only widowed, but now also orphaned.” I remind myself of Rose’s words about life, “It’s all about Jesus you know, Lo.” That reminder brings comfort.