giving thanks…for what is…

A recent conversation with a close friend reminded me how impossible sibling dynamics can be. Sometimes it’s like walking on eggshells. Tread lightly or there’ll be a ruckus or, at the very least, hard feelings simmering just below the surface.

Being the youngest of 9, I can only speak from my vantage point. I haven’t a clue as to what the others think. I can only surmise.

My husband’s the oldest of 12 so I can weigh in with my opinion, especially since I know him better than anyone else having been married to the man for more than four decades.

I think parents formulate the framework in which sibling interaction plays out. Great parents…better than average shot at the kids all getting along fairly well. Dysfunctional parenting…more than likely begets…sibling rivalry of some sort.

It’s really hard to see beyond the end of my own nose, so I can’t imagine what my siblings thought of one another, including me. I can only guess from our interactions that they might have felt I was spoiled being the last child. Perhaps I got away with things they didn’t. Perhaps I got a few more material things than they did. I say a few because being poor doesn’t go far no matter how hard we prayed for better days.

As the youngest I was in awe of my elder siblings. Except for the brother right above me in age, I really had no clue as to what the others were like. They were so much older. Besides which most of them were out of the house and living on their own before I was even in middle school. What I knew of them was through hearsay, mostly from my mother.

Growing older one tends to remember the “good old days” growing up as kids with one’s siblings. Not so for me. Aside from a few years with my brother and sister closest to me in age, I remember very little of my two oldest sisters and four oldest brothers.

No surprise then that even now at 65 I can only regard my siblings with distant regard and respect. Loving them is a given. As for liking them, I can only go as far as my memory serves me. And since we’ve lived at some distance from one another the past 37 years, my recollection of our times together are rather murky, to say the least.

What was interesting in talking with my girlfriend is my immediate ability to identify with how she felt when she said “I don’t encourage conversation because I don’t want to be told what to do.” Who can blame her? Now in her 50s, why should she have to do as her elder siblings bid? I’m sure they don’t see it that way. However that’s the problem.

Siblings don’t see things the same way. Each has his or her own “take” on what is happening. And as is usually the case, it’s very difficult to see another sibling’s point of view. I’d even go further to say that the youngest is the least likely to be taken seriously.

Another girlfriend, the youngest of seven, has the guts I will never have. She actually bosses her older siblings around. Her bossiness even extends to her in-laws, all older than her as well. My friend’s take-charge attitude seems to keep the families from getting mired in feuds and ruts. How she can withstand the disdain directed at her from some of them is unfathomable to me. She certainly has a strong back bone for which I have often commended her.

God bless the youngest sibling who can fight back and have no regrets about it. Although my girlfriend does grumble about the situation and her siblings and in-laws…a lot.

Because I rarely, if ever, see or speak with my siblings I have no complaints. I think they’re great with their families, from the little I’ve heard. And I only wish them the best always.

Life doesn’t always pan out the way we’d like, especially with familial relationships. Fretting and regretting doesn’t really serve any purpose. Stressing about what might have been is debilitating.

Being thankful for what is…and what I have…works for me.

I hope your family holiday celebrations are happy gatherings……with hugs all around.

…Happiest of Thanksgivings!!!




…before it’s too late

English: Death scene of Anna Dandolo painted o...

People always say that…”before it’s too late”…when they want you to reconcile with loved ones…long lost…or never found. It’s like turning a screw that’s in place, but wobbly for whatever reason. Some folks like to tighten things up before…the end. 

I’m not one for artificiality. I don’t do things…just because. It has to feel organic…for me.

In the good old days families did everything together. They witnessed the births of newborn kin…and in the Catholic faith, the one to which I subscribe…there were First Communions and Confirmations. Graduations and Weddings were a cause for great celebration. And holidays were when extended family came together to catch up.

These days it’s a rarity that one is on hand for all the births, graduations and weddings that occur in a family. Modern day families have wandered far and wide in search of the proverbial “pot of gold.” Trying to make it back to the family homestead, if it even still exists, can cost a small fortune. It’s been a long time since we’ve traveled by horse and buggyHave you noticed?

If you were lucky, or not…as the case might be…to have parents and siblings nearby when you started your own family, then your children grew up with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Family connectivity remained intact. Everyone knew everything there was to know about one another. It was either a good thing…or a bad thing. Whatever the case, there was an attachment of sorts.

Thanksgiving with family.

When you haven’t lived in the vicinity of family members for years at a time, the only attachment that remains for many…is blood. And while a pint or two of blood can save a life, it’s not enough to reconstruct those lost years. The most you can do with what’s left is accept the fact that things are…just fine.

My brother Ed and I were the last born in my family. Having spent more time with him than any other of my 8 siblings, I know him best. I experienced good times, and bad, with him and my mom, a widow. He and I also spent some time together when I moved to the mainland after we were both married. We lived in distant states, so our families only saw each other every now and then.

The thing that will always connect me to Ed is that we had some really great times. We cried together; we laughed together. We respected each other, never dictating what either of us should or shouldn’t do. I never felt he was less for not having gone to college. In fact, I admire his having learned the computer trade by apprenticing with those willing to teach him. But then he soared to higher levels on his own initiative. 

I miss joking around with Ed. He lives on the other side of the continent, some 3,000 miles away. I may never see my brother again, for life has a way of…getting in the way. Nonetheless, the times we shared remain fixed in my memory. And isn’t that what we should cherish the most?

Forcing change is not my style. I wouldn’t expect others to make room for me in their lives just because death is at hand. Rather, I would prefer they live happily with those who have helped create lasting memories over all the years they were blest to be together. To my way of thinking…

…death is just another day in the life…we’ve created for ourselves all along…IMG_1997