Alicia & Michelle


Michelle & Alicia

Jonesborough, TN

Age: 43

Nestled just north of Tennessee’s great Smoky mountains live two sisters, their husbands and their children all nestled together under one roof. Living all together like a modern day version of, “The Waltons”, these Southern gals are going to give Dolly Parton a run for her money. Southern, charming, funny, outgoing, irreverent, pranksters, are only a few of the words used to describe Alicia and Michelle. Ever since a young age the gals have been unbelievably close. They went to college together, played sports together, and only moved to separate households when they married their husbands. Michelle is married to Mark, a rugged outdoorsman of few words. The two have a nineteen-year-old daughter named Olivia. Alicia is married to Mike, a well-mannered IT guru. They have two children, April (twenty years old) and Ian (eleven years old).


Michelle and Mark bought 40 acres outside of Jonesborough and they are in the process of building a house together. So, in the meantime Michelle, Mark and Olivia have moved in with Alicia, Mike, April and Ian. It’s seven people all under one roof! However, Mark doesn’t like the new living situation so he stays with his mother in town more often than not. The reunion of the two sisters has opened a Pandora’s box. The twins have a renewed connection which has only strengthened and solidified their sister bond. Traditionally, most husbands and wives would normally work together to run their house, but Alicia and Michelle are more like a married couple, with their respective husbands taking second place (mostly needed for their paycheck and strong backs.)


Michelle and Alicia run the roost. They make parenting decisions together, they have family meetings (in their family bathtub) together, and they dole out chores, make vacation plans, and other big decisions together. The sisters seamlessly do what most married couples do.  What’s more they sleep in the same bed together with their daughters, and rarely with their husbands. And if living together isn’t close enough, Michelle and Alicia also work together at Tennessee’s Early Intervention System which offer support and educational services for children with various disabilities.


Olivia, Michelle’s daughter was born with a rare genetic disorder called, “Gardner’s Syndrome.” The disease causes growths mostly in the form of polyps and tumors found in Olivia’s G.I. system. Some of these polyps are non-cancerous, but it’s only a matter of time before one of the growths become malignant. It’s not a matter of, “if” but when the threat of cancer will appear in her body. Therefore, various doctors and specialists need to keep an extremely close watch on her system—with the option of removing Olivia’s colon within the next 1-5 years. Many families could have been defeated by a lifetime of battling an insidious and deadly diseases, but Michelle and Alicia have dug deep and decided to be role-models, pillars of strength, optimism and faith for Olivia, for each other and for the family at large. They decided a long time ago that they will face the disease together and all that comes with it: the pain, fear, trials and tribulations. Olivia, has the spirit of an angel and the purity of a child. She wants nothing more than to go to college, and be treated like any other young person. She’s starting her first semester in the Spring 2019 and is beyond excited to move into the dorms and see what it’s like to like a normal young person.


Mike (Alicia’s husband) has had a rough journey learning that his place is secondary to that of his wife’s sister. In fact, he considers Michelle to be his, “wife-in-law.” Time, intimacy, and his relationship is shared (not always fairly) with Michelle. Mark, is less understanding than Mike is. Mark and Michelle have had a rocky marriage, impacted by the sister’s relationship. The couple was even separated for a period of time. Although they are back together, Mark doesn’t like to compete for time with his wife, and is anxious for his own home where he doesn’t have to fight for Michelle’s attention. Although Michelle loves her husband, their marriage seems to be at a fragile impasse. Michelle wants to have a life with her husband and her daughter, but she doesn’t want to separate from the idyllic life that she’s built with her sister. Michelle and Mike’s home is meant to be ready in the Spring of 2019, during which time it’s expected that Michelle and her family will move out of Alicia’s home. It’s a topic that they don’t want to discuss as it’s going to be an extremely difficult transition. Michelle and Alicia have found the perfect balance of life-partner with each other and to change their dynamic not only affects them, but will affect their children and the non-traditional but successful home that they have built over the past six months.


When the house is complete will Michelle really move out with her husband and try to mend their strained relationship, giving up her safety net of her sister? Or will Alicia and Michelle still find a way to be closer than ever, but risk negatively impacting Mark and Michelle’s marriage? Either way, something has to give and not everyone is going to be satisfied with the eventual outcome.