“Be kind to your brothers and sisters,“ Mr. Spainhower advised my high school English class. “If you’re good to them, they’ll be part of your life for more years than your parents, spouses, or children.”
When younger—engaged in teasing, tattling, and fisticuffs with my six siblings—I would have scorned such an idea. Who’d want to be stuck with that throng of thugs forever?
I remember sluggishly pushing our vacuum down the hall and glaring at Carolyn, who ironed in the kitchen, popping nary a bead of sweat. She sneered back at me, took a sip of lemonade, turned up the radio, and sang along: “How much is that doggie in the window—arf! arf!”
Seemed more like a party than work to me.
Pushing the belching machine into the living room, I aimed for Barbara, who sat on the floor pairing freshly laundered socks. Concentrating on her task, she didn’t look up, increasing the chances I could inflict serious injury. But when Mom entered the room, I veered off course and listened as she collected Barbara’s work and praised her, “Look at the good job you’ve done; you’re getting to be a big help.”
What was I? An incompetent orphan on loan from the poor house?
No, I was an unhappy teenager concentrating on my grievances rather than the love, friendship, and fun I derived from my siblings.
Hundreds of miles now separate us, but we continue to talk on the telephone, visit one another, and get together every summer. Recently, I showed a friend a picture taken of us at one of our reunions. As I named each sibling, I thought about how she must see us: wrinkled, gray, stooped, balding, sagging, adorned with hearing aids and glasses, wearing comfortable shoes and roomy clothes.
When I look at the photo, however, I remember us as we were when young: energy-filled, happy, and best friends. I see brothers and sisters who know me completely and love me still; siblings who have been kind to each other and have remained part of each other’s lives.
Sometimes in dreams I return to the childhood homes I shared with my brothers and sisters. We’re gathered in the kitchen: I feel the presence of our parents; I hear laughter; and I relax into the sense of belonging I feel when with my family.
Cherish your brothers and sisters.
Have some thoughts
about maintaining relationships with siblings?
Let me know.
Recap of Comments on A Reluctant Author
Janice confided she has long dreamed of doing her own artwork and now that she is, she feels wonderful and scared at the same time. I know the feeling.
Dawna wrote, “I put my talents/hobbies on the back burner to sit behind a keyboard each day, and every key I press tells me that I could be doing something more.” Dawna is talented, and I believe she will find her way to that something.
Mary plans to forward Aunt Beulah’s advice to someone who’s boldly stepped into a new position and is questioning her ability. I hope the recipient finds my words helpful.