Monday, November 17, 2008


My siblings are my lifelines. Whenever life gets crazy, I can count on them to be there for me. Friends come and go, but siblings are forever.

We have not always been close. Life's piles and trials used to allow the miles between us to separate us. (Sorry, too much Dr. Seuss I guess.) Somehow, we survived but there was a feeling of incompleteness.

In these past few years, each has grown a great deal. The brevity of life teaches us the greatness of our need for each other.

Though our perspectives extend from a variety of angles, our hearts are unified. It's not every day that I answer the phone to find the voice of my sisters or brother. But every time I hear their voices, it seems like it was just yesterday that I sat with them and laughed around Mom and Dad's kitchen table. Many things have changed over time but somehow it feels quite the same; the legacy of love and faith is passed down to our children-- just as it was created for us in our youth.

From the viewpoint of someone else, we may have appeared dysfunctional. That didn't dampen our spirits a bit. We came through, not without scars, but with strong bonds that cannot ever be broken.

In our youth, we used to scrap, leaving clumps of flying hair and screaming like a bunch of neighborhood cats. I still hear my mom's voice when I reprimand my own children, "Would you just QUIT YER BICKERING?"
Those were the days when my sister and I squeezed each other by the throat until our faces began to turn blue and Mom stuck her head into the room, "What, for Pete's sake, is going on in here?"

"Nothing, we're just wrestling," was the breathy chorus from the two fighting and the referee.
"For the love of Mike!" She would sigh and leave us back to our battle.

Then there was the time, when we took turns, in my brother's bedroom standing on his back like a cheer leading pyramid in order to see through the hole in the wall into the living room where our parents wrapped our Christmas presents. One of us fell thudding to the floor.
"You okay in there?" Mom's worried voice hollered.

"Ya, uh, I'm lifting weights." My brother gulped and we all "bust a gut" laughing into his mattress.

I had another hobby in those days. I imagined myself a photographer. I made my sisters, Heady included (a neighbor who we considered our extra sister) dress up in crazy outfits and stand in front of trees, flowers and Mill pond so I could have more "photo shoots" under my belt. I took my 120 film camera along with me everywhere I went, shooting scenes of my youngest sister, "Froo", (following in my tomboy footsteps) and working on her bike in the yard. I filmed my other sister, "R". the stand-up comic, making goofy faces and joking poses. One time, she got stuck with her feet behind her head and I shook so hard with laughter I couldn't get the picture.
My photography hobby was soon high jacked by a love of writing, music and art but I kept them in mind as I belted out homemade "opera" from my own music hall on the other side of the bedroom curtain (partly to bug the daylights out of them).

Even now, we still have wild and crazy times. You really can't understand unless you were up in the middle of the night with us this last August building a puppet stage out of our Mom's curtains. R, the sensible one now, came down to use the restroom and said, "Are you guys drunk or something?" We weren't. We were just us.
If you want a picture of what it was like living in our home, just watch or read L. M. Alcott's "Little Women". Then amplify the affect and cross it with the Brady Bunch. That should do it.
Of course, every family has its great moments just as we all have our worst. We've fought over clothes, politics, religion and many other things but it all came out in the wash and now we are stronger and better. To make the package even bigger and wilder, we added brothers and sisters in the mix through marriage. Although they may not be as wacky and wild, they add to the warmth like hot cocoa on a windy Maine Autumn evening.
I'm thankful for the birth family I have. I couldn't run Leaders in Learning or my daily life without them. Whatever family memories you may have. Don't focus on the negative.

Life is short. Forget the differences. Relish the love.

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