Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Siblings

This past weekend, we traveled to NC to visit my family. We hadn't been there since early June when my newest nephew was born and I was SO ready to see them.

I had only one goal for this trip. I wanted to be able to spend time with my siblings all together, just to catch up. On the evening that we arrived, my Brother's soon to be father in law passed away and at that point, I was pretty sure our gathering would not include my Brother since he'd want to be with his fiance. In the end, we were able to work it out and I'm so thankful that it did.

I'm the oldest of four in our family. Growing up, there was almost six years between myself and my younger sisters (they are twins). I was almost nine when my brother came along. That's a pretty large age difference to kids so I was into completely different things since I was so much older. As adults, I am the only one who doesn't live in the same town with my parents, the town where we all grew up. Again, this could make things sticky in sibling relationships but somehow, we have made it past the years and miles to be completely supportive and loving with each other.

As we sat together having coffee this weekend, I felt such contentment being with them. I studied each of their faces as we talked and I was flooded with memories. I haven't been able to spend much time with my brother for the past year and I've missed him so much. I watched him talk and laugh and the reality that he is now a man hit me. When I married, he was almost fourteen and still in middle school. I think I've tried for almost nine years to keep him there and he's now a grown man with responsibilities and facial hair.

The three people at that table with me on Sunday know me better than anyone except for Big Daddy. They have seen me at my best and at my worst. They've loved me through both. I count on them to be honest with me, even if it isn't pretty. In the past year, there have been a few times when family issues have come up and you know what? We've rallied and become one heck of a team through it. We've been through things together that could have ripped us apart as a family but instead, they made us closer. My sister said something this weekend as we left Starbucks that stuck in my heart and will be my prayer for my own children.

She said, "No matter what we were going through or how hard things got when we were growing up, I always knew it would be fine because we had each other."

I needed to hear that reminder at that moment. As adults, we have our own families, we get busy and life gets in the way but I needed to be reminded that it's worth it to make the effort to remain close. For me, that means more trips out of state (or country depending on where we live next) and more phone calls, cards and emails. It's so worth it.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Heather

    Remember me? Life has been sooooo C-R-A-Z-Y lately...but a good kind of crazy, so I can't complain even though it has kept me from visiting. But...I'm home now...for a week or so anyway.

    I've had fun this afternoon reading all your posts I've missed. I especially loved the one of Brother wanting to pray in the grocery store. What a sweet post! Funny too! And your post today...wow...so touching. It gave me sweet chills.

    Hugs!
    Kat

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  2. Oh, Heather... have you struck a nerve today in me. A great big sad one. It started when my mom became very infirmed almost 2 years ago. She was 81... and had always been the senior citizen extraordinaire. Golfing. Bowling. Traveling. Enjoying life, even though she had been widowed for decades. I am the only daughter, with 2 brothers very close in age, one younger and one older. I happily am the one who took care of my mom during those decades... making sure she was with my children and now grandchildren at all functions and sporting events and everything. Everything. My brothers each have wives who have families who, well... were more important than mine. But I never thought too much about it... I have always adored my brothers for who they are. BUT. 2 years ago my mom needed extensive hospitalization and care. I needed my brothers. They were nowhere to be found. My husband had a complete hip replacement at the same time, and Audrey was very pregnant with Benjamin. I of course took my mom into my home for 6 weeks and then she needed nursing care in a rehab center. Still no brothers. They both actually explained to me that THEIR wives needed them because the mothers-in-law needed care. I have never raised my voice to either of them in 56 years... but I did then. Then I got a letter from one of the wives... telling me how I mismanaged my mom's care. All of her finances. And basically what a piece of shit I am. I almost died. And she cc'd the letter to my ill mom... the day before Christmas. OK. My children and my husband all told me not to respond, and I didn't. But my mom? It nearly killed her. She called my brothers and told them that without me, she would be dead. She was crushed and sad and horrified. She called her 3 sisters and talked to them. They all said that they never liked this person. Ever. They knew she was trouble 30 years ago. BUT. It is still so painful and raw and sad and horrible. When my mother-in-law died and my husband and brother-in-law begged me to give the eulogy... and I did because I loved her so very much... I looked out into the packed church and saw my "baby" brother. That shook me to my core. His wife was with him... After the Mass, he hugged me and told me how much he loves me and misses me. BUT. Oh, God... how much damage has been done. They have seen my mom once in 6 months. She lives 5 minutes from them. My older brother in Maryland hasn't seen my mom in almost 3 years. My mom is a wonderful woman... I love her 3 times as much for their lack of care. I don't get it. I have grieved the loss of my brothers. I have cried and cried. BUT. Their wives, as everyone tells me, are just so resentful of any happiness that I have. They have taken the one piece of me that I cannot fix. PLEASE stay close to your siblings. It can be taken in a flash.

    Your post made me cry. But thank you for it. Thank you.

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  3. You are right... it is all SO worth it. My brothers don't live not close (as you know how that goes), one os on NY and the other in Japan but we keep in close contact. And for that I am thankful, but nothing replaces the wonderfulness of being in the same room together. I can't remember the last time that took place in my family.

    I am so glad you had a wonderful visit - and that all of you were able to just be with one another. It fills your heart back up, doesn't it.

    -Andrea

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