An Open Letter: Sisters Forever [Part One]

Thank you so much for gracing my blog with your presence! When I was a kid, my elder sister told me in not so many words to memorize the countries of the world and its flags but because I was not a diligent student, I didn’t. πŸ˜›

Today, I’m looking for at least one person from each country to greet my sister and wish her well. Here is why. ❀


Earlier this year my elder sister Ate[1] Mae was advised by the doctors to undergo a thyroid surgery. Scared, my sister refused. We’d convince her and she’d say yes and then she’d say no again. Needless to say, we’ve had plenty of arguments since and right now she’s nowhere near to saying yes again.

I have no doubt I can convince her again but at the same time, I wanted her to feel relaxed, to feel as at ease as she possibly can given the circumstances and this is where I need your help.

You, yes you, the one reading this, I’d like to appeal for your compassion. If you could write a line or two to help my sister find her courage in order to face this I’d be truly grateful. To our friends and relatives reading this, if you could send Ate Mae an empathy card, an ecard, or if you could type a comment below please do. It would mean the world to me. I just want her to know that even if she’s the one going under the knife, she’s not truly alone in this, that the entire world is behind her.

Thank you for reading this post and I hope everything is going your way wherever you are in this world. If you want to get to know my sister, please read on.



My elder sister Ate Mae and me.

I had never known the love of our parents.

Our mother died when I was only ten days old and our father shipped off leaving my sister and me under our maternal grandparents’ care, our brother under our paternal grandparents.

As a result, my eight year older sister Ate Mae tried very hard to make up for that loss. She became a mother, a father, a sister, a brother to me all rolled into one. Ate Mae always had my back. For as long as I can remember, she always took care of me. Always.

While the other kids had their moms or dads to teach them how to read, count, and tell time I had her to do that for me instead. While the other children had their moms or dads to tuck them in and tell them bedtime stories, I had our grandma, but Ate always made sure I was fine before heading to her own bed. While the other kids had their dads giving them airplanes and piggy back rides, I had Ate Mae do that for me.

Where other children her age played outside, Ate Mae stayed inside to help our ailing grandparents do the household chores and take care of her baby sister. Where the other children had their parents buy their toys for them, Ate saved money whenever possible so she could buy me a balloon, a candy, or plastic balloon, or tea party play sets, teapots, and dinnerware. And because there was never really enough money to begin with, my creative sister improvised.

Sure, she bought me paper dolls, but she made most of it. She drew images on the cardboard, cut it out, color the hair, draw its body parts, and painstakingly design its clothes. Ate Mae made sure my paper dolls had plenty of clothes for each type of occasions: gowns for parties, Sunday dresses, house clothes, pants, shorts, tank tops. Ate Mae also sewed dresses for the Barbie doll our Uncle Dieg got for me when I turned seven.

My sister’s motto was always Josephine first. When I started going to school and had needed help with anything? Did I have projects, drawings, assignments? Ate Mae did everything without me even asking. I was not a diligent student so she wrote my notes on my spotless notebooks whenever the teacher required it; I only had to inform her. I needed a lunchbox? Ate Mae prepared it for me.

She spoiled me rotten. I cannot count the things she did for me, there were so many, and she did those out of love.

My brave sister for once, is scared. Ate, you need not be. The entire world will be thinking of you and praying for you. This time we got your back. This is my promise to you.

[1] Meaning older sister.


42 thoughts on “An Open Letter: Sisters Forever [Part One]

    • Love is the most powerful force on earth. You still have love to give and love to receive Ate Mae. Do whatever is in your power to stay alive so you can continue to share love πŸ™‚

  1. For Mae, I hope you’ll soon realize that the greatest fear isn’t having an operation but leaving someone who greatly care for you. I’ll pray for your safety. With love from Norway, – Jessica

  2. Ate Mae is a wonderful sister and lovely human being. We will all be sending her our good thoughts and strong karma to help her through. One of my sisters had breast cancer last year, and had to have so much surgery and I know how scary that can be. But just remind her that she has a little sister who loves her and will be there to help her through. Love from New York!

    • Kizuuuuuuuu! Thank you sooo much for your message. Super grateful. How is your sister? I hope everything is fine now with her, too! Sending her my thoughts and prayers as well. ❀

  3. Amazing human being. Best wishes for your sister.
    I am proud to have 3 such elder sisters who shaped me to a good human being. Their support, care and love for me all these years is exceptionally good! !!!

    • Hi Murthy! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, read, and send your love all the way from India! ❀ I agree, sisters are the best! ❀ Ate Mae did the same for me. πŸ™‚ We’re both lucky to have them πŸ™‚

  4. Dear Mae,

    From an elder sister to an elder sister, I think I might be able to understand a little bit about what you’re going through. When we step into shoes too large for our feet at an age too young, regardless if we succeeded or failed, we find the strength to keep going for those who needed us. We’re the ones who clear the road, who stomp down the long grass, who make the pathway for those who come after. For everybody else, we can do it. After a while, it’s instinct, almost impossible to stop. It’s a feeling that is both liberating and binding at the same time.

    And it makes the forks in the road such as these a terrifying choice. Without the surgery, it is assured that things will either stay the same or get worse. Usually, the result is the latter. With the surgery, there is recovery time alongside a whole slew of other things. For possibly the first time, you become the person who needed another’s strength. Can you continue to do what is needed afterwards?

    It is that uncertainty that is terrifying.

    But you know what? It’s okay to be scared. Moving forward to do what’s right for you despite the fear… well, that’s courage, and you’re one of those few people who got it. Right alongside that courage is strength, and you’ve used it for everyone around you who needed it.

    Now it’s time to use it for you. We’ll all be here, thinking about you and sending good thoughts/vibes/prayers/rituals/what-have-you to help you through this.

    I would tell you to be strong, but you’re already there. Don’t give up. ❀

    • Joshhhh! ❀ Thank you soooo much for reading and sending your love and thoughts! ❀ You're right, she'll feel so much better, it's making her feel sick to the point that she feels like she's drowning whenever she's drinking water. Not good. 😦 And me, too. I'd feel really relieved if we do this.

  5. What can I say after all these replies?! Ate Mae, please know you have nothing to fear. Do not fear the unknown, for you will be cared for eitherway. You have an amazing sister who cares for you deeply. It’s time to let her take care of you so that you may heal to take care of Jho again. Best wishes from Pennsylvania. πŸ’•

    • Did you hear that, Ate? πŸ™‚ You need to start feeling better so you can start doing what you do best: take care of us. πŸ˜‰

      @AJ: Thank you soooo much for dropping by and sending your love, my friend. ❀ Take care always. πŸ™‚

  6. Dear ate Mae, Growing up together w/ Jho “ephine” as I called her is like watching live teleserye..yes, indeed its like a heavy drama that needs tons of handkerchief..super nakakaiyak😭. I always remember ate Mae as an strong person she’s like a mother to ephine, she provide things in her own most creative ways, i always admire the paper dolls and christmas cards they used to sell on Christmas so that they can buy pang noche buena..I hope ate Mae you still find that courage that got in you to fight for pls..pumayag kana sa gusto ni Ephine..We’ll always be here praying for youπŸ‘..

    • Hi Jihan, haha, I call you Jihan now… it’s just I feel Baby doesn’t suit you. You’ve never been a baby to me, you’re a strong and independent person even when you were only four years old and I was three. πŸ™‚

      If there’s someone who knows everything my sister and I went through, it’s you. ❀ Thank you for leaving this note, for always being there for us, and for always being there for us. πŸ™‚ We love you. ❀

  7. I’m sending supportive hugs and warm thoughts from Finland, Ate Mae. You can do eeet! And thank you for sharing this touching post, Josephine. You have an amazing big sister.

  8. I had surgery a little over a year ago. It can be scary. Giving up control. Depending so completely on other people. In the early stages of recovery, I actually felt worse than before I had the surgery but, that didn’t last. Eventually, I started to feel better. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

    You have a great support system in Josephine, Ate Mae. It may be hard at first but, it will be worth it.

    Sandy from Virginia

  9. I just want to say Hi, Ate Mae, from England πŸ™‚ I’m sorry to hear that you need an operation. I can imagine how scared you are, but from what your sister has told us, you seem such a strong person to me. It is so obvious just how much you mean to your family. They need you. The world needs people like you! Be brave for them if not yourself. God will not let nothing bad happen to one of his/hers angels. I hope that everything works out for you, all of you! I’ll be thinking of you from my part of the world ❀

    • Hi Kurt, thank you so much for taking the time to read and send your thoughts. You just made my day! ❀ Yes, Ate Mae is brave, she just doesn't realize this yet. Sending you back well wishes and love from the Philippines! πŸ™‚

  10. Hi ate Mae,

    I could relate myself on your position, i know exactly that feeling and believe me i was even scared of needles….but that was before i got pregnant and gave birth. My secret how i overcome my fear? I just always keep one thought in my mind and that is – ” Kung nakaya ng iba sigurado kakayanin ko din!” Besides, will you let your dear sister worry? Please, let your love on your sister conquer your fear! πŸ˜€ Will pray for you…

    Hugs and kisses all the way from Germany.

    • Hi Mariz, thank you sooo much for reading and sending us your thoughts and prayers. ❀ Haha, tama di ba? Kung kaya ng iba, kaya rin natin! Correct mindset, I agree 100%. πŸ™‚

      I think it's a cultural thing, the fear of needles, operations, injections, etc. Ganyan talaga karamihan sa mga Pinoy but in the end, we are able to find courage within ourselves and I guess that's what matters.

      Maraming salamat ulit! Take care always, my friend. I miss you. ❀

  11. Hello, Ate Mae. Greetings from England. I hope you find the courage to have this operation so that you can be well again and enjoy life as it should be enjoyed.



    • Hi Hambel, thank you so much for dropping by and sending us your well-wishes. I appreciate it very much. ❀ I agree with you, after this operation she'll feel so much better. Goiter's causing her sleeplessness, dizziness, nausea, sometimes it's hard for her to breathe and swallow. 😦

      I have yet to tell Ate Mae about this blog, I'm waiting for a few more comments before doing that. She'll be thrilled about everyone's support and love for sure. πŸ™‚

  12. Hi, I’m sure you have an American already, but I thought I’d pipe up and say I have a good friend who was just diagnosed with thyroid cancer and she had surgery (on her neck, to remove the thyroid glands) and she is fine. She was up and about in no time. I’m not trying to downplay here. It’s scary and she does get tired, but that’s not from the surgery. It’s from the cancer, which is getting better. It was worth it.

    • Hi, Sadie! Thank you sooo much for dropping by and sharing your friend’s story, much appreciated. More is better so thank you! ❀

      I'm so sorry about your friend and at the same time, I'm happy she's getting better. It's all I want for Ate, too.

      Sending you and your friend much love back. ❀ Happy Sunday! πŸ™‚

  13. Dear Ate Mae,
    You have been brave so many time for others, please be brave for yourself. I know something of what you’re going through, having had some unexpected surgeries. But after it all, you will be here to love and be loved. Best wishes from New Mexico.

    • Hi, Karen! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and send your well-wishes. I’m sorry you had to undergo surgeries yourself. I’m sending you love back, with good wishes and prayers for good health. ❀

  14. Hi! To your elder sister Mae,
    I do hope she went and proceed with the surgery. We all know that the biggest fear in life is not surgeries or any other fears but the thought of leaving someone you care about behind. Few years back my aunt underwent a major surgery (total removal of the uterus, cervix and the ovaries) on the same day that her very first grandchild celebrated her 1st birthday. Yes, it was scary but the with support of your relatives and loved ones, the prayers they made will give you enough courage to be brave and go on. She is well now and healthy and just recently, she attended the 1st birthday of her second grandchild.

    I wish you well and more happy moments with your family.

    Hugs from Dubai.

    • Hi, Marie! Thank you for the well-wishes and for sharing your aunt’s story. I’m really sorry about your aunt. 😦 I’m glad she’s fine now.

      Here’s to wishing you, your aunt, and your family well.<# Cheers! Miss na kita. πŸ™‚

  15. Dear Ate Mae,

    Hi from the little island of Ireland hanging out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Europe. I am so very sorry to hear that you are having some health problems, and I can completely understand how nervous you must be at the thought of having an operation, of any kind. It is a leap into the unknown, which is always a scary thing to do. I have always found, the things we are most scared of, are the things we don’t know at all, that is the reason they are scary in the first place.

    I have been under the knife a few times, and in the beginning, I was very frightened. I imagined all kinds of terrible things, none of which were at all true. If you are worried it will hurt, I can tell you that you won’t feel a thing. It might be sore afterwards, but nothing as bad as I had imagined it would be. I worried about the operation not working, which was silly, because it could only make me better, not worse. Then I worried about the doctors making a mistake. To this day, I have never come across a doctor, anywhere, that would do anything they were not 100% sure was the right thing to do.

    Most of all, there is your sister, who clearly loves you so very much. She is just as frightened as you, and would never ask you to do something unless she was totally sure it was the very best thing to do. You need each other so very much, don’t let something like being scared put that love in danger. From the story your sister has told, I can tell how brave you are, but let me send you an Irish Blessing to help you on your way.

    May the sun always shine on your head, may the wind always be at your back, and your days be filled with love and laughter.

    Thinking of you sweet Ate Mae,

    Squid McFinnigan

    • Dear Sir,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read, share this message to others, share your own experience, and send us your thoughts and well-wishes.

      I’m sorry to hear you had to undergo surgeries yourself. I’m sure it was a very difficult time. But I’m glad you’re doing well now.

      Thank you also, for the Irish Blessing. It is beautiful. I’d like to send well-wishes and love back. πŸ’ž Here’s to hoping for better health, more happiness, more love. Cheers! πŸ™‚

  16. Dear Ate Mae,

    Hello from Colorado in the U.S.! I am writing to encourage you to follow your doctor’s advice, and improve or lengthen your life to stay with your beloved family. If I had been advised so, I would trust my doctors, surgeries are performed every day, and medical science has come a very long way. The medications to keep a person comfortable and pain-free work very well, I broke my back and neck in an accident, and was able to survive it without suffering until I healed. I now lead a normal life as good as before. Please don’t let fear keep you from living the best life possible, make use of medical science, it is amazing and millions of people have had surgery, benefitting from it, leading better lives.

    Keep up your courage, I am praying for you!

    Donna Maurice

    • Hi, Donna! Thank you so much for reading and sending us your well-wishes. I’m so sorry you had an accident and I just want to say I’m glad you are now feeling better.

      Thank you, again, for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. Sending it back to you, with love. πŸ’ž

  17. Dear Ate Mae,
    While reading this blog, you know what I’m laughing….because for the past years I’ve always known you as a woman of strength and courage.So where is she now? Ate Mae, Jho loves you so much, so why are you afraid of undergoing a surgery.Compared to what you and Jho go through all these years, that surgery, it is just a piece of nut he he he.
    Don’t you worry, everything will be okay during and after the surgery, you’re like a sister to me and I am praying for you always. Your family and friends are there every step of the way….I love you mwuahhh!!!


    • Hi Mhy,

      You are right. πŸ™‚ This is nothing compared to what we went through when we were kids, and then when we were in our teens. You’ve seen our hardships, and yes, this is nothing. This, too, is conquerable. πŸ™‚

      Thank you, Mhy, for being with us today just as you always have in the past. I have no words for how grateful and lucky we are to have you. >:D< Thank you. We love you, too! πŸ’ž

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