“Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply...” ~Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814
Recently I hugged a young woman at the funeral of her only sibling, a handsome sixteen year old cut down in the very prime of life. It was one of those funerals you hate to go to but you know you can’t miss. I hugged her harder and longer than I usually hug anyone. I told her about losing my only brother eighteen years ago when he was only 29. Although it wasn’t the same, it was the most devastating loss I’d ever experienced; I know what it is to lose a brother.
She asked me one question, “Was he your only sibling?” No, I had to admit honestly. He was my only brother, but I still have two sisters.
She was now an only child. I was wealthy by comparison.
Funny how difficult it is to see one’s family as a ‘treasure’ when you’re growing up; then siblings are rivals for finite resources, such as mom’s time, the favorite chair, or extra food, etc. Still I do remember a few lights shining through the fog where I saw—really saw—what a wonderful thing it is to have other souls who share the same parents and similar childhood memories.
But something that I value even more than the collective conscious is the sense of belonging that I share with my sisters. When we were younger we had our rivalries and jealousies. Especially intense were our competitions over grades and scholastic achievements. Both of my sisters made higher grades than I did and earned more awards and scholarships—much to my chagrin.
However, my one sister who never married struggled to overcome her own desires for family life and children. And my other sister who has two autistic sons had to learn not to blame herself for the boys’ disabilities. Both sisters suspected my life a little bit too perfect until our girls became teenagers and I recounted some of the trials inherent in mothering young women today. Is anyone’s life without bumps, pitfalls and obstacles? Isn’t it the challenges we face which make us who we are? Doesn’t character develop over the long term?
“Sisters is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.” ~Margaret Mead
We just returned from a wonderful visit home where I was able to see both sisters and the rest of our family. The days of petty childhood differences are long gone. My single sister babysits for our autistic nephews. My youngest sister, Julie opened her beautiful home to us for the holiday and even waited up for us when we arrived late Tuesday night. My family is on one schedule due to college age kids; her family is on another time clock due to her boys’ special needs, but we worked it out.
Both of my sisters are amazing women. Patti recently finished her Masters in Pastoral Administration. She’s also a Master Gardener and she does triathlons. Julie has decorated her entire home herself—done the painting, wallpaper, curtains, made quilts and pillows for her son’s beds, does scrapbooking and lately has taken up miniatures as well! Pictured at the top is her entry for an upcoming competition. Hasn’t she done a nice job on this Jewelry Boutique?! I couldn't be more proud of my sisters' accomplishments if I'd actually done all of those things myself. I love them immeasurably. They are my dearest friends.
God bless you both!
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It was our best visit ‘home’ ever!
Thanks to everyone! We love you all so much!
“Bless you, my darling, and remember you are always in the heart - oh tucked so close there is no chance of escape - of your sister.” ~Katherine Mansfield