Three Sisters and a Dude

 In Children, Connecting, Relationships

I have been blessed with four sisters, but at this stage of our lives, we are flung out over the Southwest: Carol in Arizona, Elaine in Colorado, Anita in Texas and Linda in New Mexico, while I am in California. We do have two brothers, the youngest, Michael, lives in New Mexico and the oldest, Dwayne, in Texas. We still call ourselves a close family and relish any time we can garner to be together.

Recently three of we girls managed to meet up for a few days. Two of us are widowed, and the other two are married. This time our sister Anita brought along hubby, Jay—I might add at our insistence. Every time we get together we laugh from when we first meet to the last moment before we each go our own way. Did I mention that what we are usually laughing at is each other?

I have to say it is difficult to find enough differences among us to ridicule, but we are clever. Whatever doesn’t exist, we create. Regardless, we find it great fun. The most wonderful part of it is to get to just laugh, laugh until our sides hurt.

Jay reminds me a lot of my late husband, Rube. They both seem to truly enjoy being in the presence of our family. I don’t know much of Jay’s family background, but I know that Rube was raised with a sister nine years his junior. When he was 15 his mother remarried a man with a son, so his little family expanded to three children. Rube was already so old he spent very little time with his siblings who were both about nine years younger. All that to say, Rube had missed out on the type and volume of interaction that was the norm in our family. I think that is why he enjoyed our “get togethers” so much.

But back to our resident “Dude,” Jay. His accepting demeanor never ceases to amaze me. He welcomes into their home as many of us who can visit as many times as we can make it happen. Some might find the estrogen level daunting, but not Jay. He seems to revel in it.

We recently put him to the test when we had a Seven Sib Reunion, mostly centered in his and Anita’s home. It had been 13 years since all seven of us had been together. It was not easy to make happen! Elaine does not drive much and avoids public conveyances. Sister Carol drove from Arizona to get Elaine in Colorado and drove her to Texas. When you consider that we are all getting “up there” in age, that was an amazing feat, all that driving and just riding in a car. And yes, at the end of the visit, Carol took Elaine home before driving herself back to Arizona.

The result was that Carol, Elaine and I spent a week at Jay and Anita’s house. Our youngest sister Linda made several trips from New Mexico to be with us. We made a one-day trip over to New Mexico to meet up with our two brothers and Linda. We became eight when adding in our Aunt Becky, who is only one year older than our oldest sister, Carol. Since our mother has now been gone over 15 years, Becky is as much a reminder of our mother, her sister, as she is just one of us.

We spent a relaxing lunch in a restaurant that wasn’t too noisy so we could catch up with each other. Michael had not joined us, as he had a medical procedure earlier in the day. We all congregated back at his house afterwards to make the circle complete. This visit we missed seeing Michael’s wife, Rhetha, as she was working. Linda’s husband, Bill, also did not make it until the very end of the visit. Since four of the seven of us are widowed, it is always good to get to spend time with our sibs’ remaining spouses. But it is also a time that we each miss the presence of our deceased spouse.

There are several things that always occur when any of the sibs get together. It is almost like a norming process. We are scattered all across the Southwest, but we also are very different people from who we were as kids. Don’t get me wrong, there is still the tendency for us to “pull rank” on each other based on our birth order, but it doesn’t hold much water as we are all of the age that really gives us a strong sense of ourselves as we exist in our own “little worlds,” far apart from each other. We are the patriarchs and matriarchs of our own families. All of us are grandparents and some even great grandparents.

What we all seem to have carried into our adult selves are the values our parents tried to instill in us. Each and every one of us has a very strong work ethic, some of us to a fault. I mean by that that most of us have a harder time relaxing and are always busy with family and community projects. We are all retired from formal work, but all stay extremely busy in very meaningful activities, with involvement in our children’s and grandchildren’s lives being primary.

Which brings me to a second value we got from our parents – valuing and taking care of family. The older I get the more I realize how fragile human life is. We have this relatively short window of existence here on Earth. Helping each other and our offspring along the way is primary.
If anything, most of us have to be careful not to meddle in our kids’ lives. But our intentions are good – we want to equip them to be the best they can be in this world. I, for at least one, hope that I can steer my kids’ from having to learn some life lessons the hard way. I think we all realize, however, that they may not make our same mistakes, but they will make poor choices and have to learn from them just as we have had to do.

After a visit with my sibs, I feel so rich. I am so grateful to share blood with such wonderful people. Our lives are very different, but we all have accomplished a lot in our own ways. I don’t measure our success by accumulation of things. To me our wealth is that we have kept our hands on the plow. We all have a balance of personal well-being and accomplishment. We all place our highest value on our relationships, especially within our own families, as well as with those with whom we share a heritage.

I think I see what Jay and Rube see in our family. They see genuine love and concern. Sappy as it may sound, even when we are laughing at each others’ antics, at our hearts we have a love for each other deeper than the blood we share. When we come together, I personally feel balance return. I remember who I am at my core. I don’t mean I just fall back into birth order. I remember who I am in the sight of God. In the presence of my sibs, I feel whole. Sometimes we need to be reminded that our relations were no accident. Our Lord placed us together to feel his balancing love.

Being with my sibs brings personal and corporate reflection. In their presence, I am reminded of who I am, in a good way. It is a very centering experience. In the long periods between actual visits, I find talking on the phone has a similar effect.

Two things happen: I get my Texas “twang” back, and I am reminded of who I am. I value the effect my family has on me. I don’t try to think about a time when we may not all be present on Earth for each other. But really, having lost my husband, I still have a sense of his presence that is also a steadying force for me. The connection we all have is not dependent on physical presence, but getting time together is frosting on the cake.

 

– Shari

 


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