...random thoughts, opinions and secrets on children... aging... cooking... crafts... nature...divorce...second chances...
and whatever else I deem curious...
~Copyright 2017. Hootie~

Sunday, November 27, 2016

For the love of siblings....

Siblings = longest family relationships
Thanksgiving 2016
With my Sister and Brother
This recent holiday, I shared my home with my siblings, and our children. There were 11 of us in and out of my house over Thanksgiving.  
I spent 16 years growing up with just my brother in my life.  Our baby sister arrived as a surprise blessing long after my brother and I had ironed out our hierarchy.  She was, of course a band camp baby.  Have I told this story?  I was 15 and my brother 13 when our parents sat us down.  "Do you remember that baby you always prayed for, Lisa?"  Yes, of course I do.  "Well, next summer we are going to have a job for you." Really?  But I all ready have a job, at Hannon's.  "Next summer you will be babysitting too."  I was slow on processing what was being said.  My brother, on the other hand, made the connection faster than I.  "What? That's means you did it. Gross. When did it happen?" "We don't know exactly when it happened." "Ugh, that means you did it more than once?"  My brother and I decided it MUST have happened while we were at summer band camp, never mind that the timing didn't work out.  

Our sister missed out on puddle playing, sandlot war games, tree climbing, cousin navigating, family camping/vacations, l-o-n-g car rides, after school latch key-ness, summer babysitter training(we had to train them to deal with us), several months of farm living, new house construction, new schools, boy/girl friends being tortured, car radio dial controlling, calling shotgun, dish washing rituals, Friday night euchre games, weekend chores, becoming invisible when dad paid bills, Sunday dinner at grandma and grandpa's combined with the lack of Sunday night Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color watching when grandpa was sleeping in front of the TV with 60 Minutes on instead of our favorite, and the birth of a sibling.  

A few years after her birth, our sister did experience our father's death with us, but she was 5 and we were 19 and 21.  We felt our roles shift from siblings to caretakers of our mom and little sister.  I know my brother felt a weight on his shoulders as the man of the family after dad died.  Our mother struggled with the loss of her love, and I know I felt responsible for helping life remain normal for my sister. I was set to stay home from college, I had three years completed.  I thought I should stay at home, go to the extension maybe, and help, as did my brother.  Our paternal grandfather wouldn't hear of it.  He said the best way we could honor our father would be to go back to campus and finish college.  Grandma and Grandpa said they would be there for mom and our sister.  And they were.  Still, there was so much my mom needed to go through and they couldn't help her emotionally.  Hindsight is 20/20, and my recent life experience has made me understand that mom needed time to grieve.  Which was exactly what she was doing. 

My brother and I spent many hours during the summer of our dad's death sitting by his grave and talking.  We were supposed to be at church...but we weren't.  We'd take turns running into church to pick up a bulletin as proof that we went, then we'd go buy donuts and sit with dad.  We reminisced about our past and pondered our future. Mom didn't question us when we returned from church.  Christmas was her favorite time of the year.  That first Christmas, both my brother and I were at IU and working retail.  We worked Christmas eve, then headed home to attend midnight mass with mom and our sister.  After church I discovered that mom was still mourning...what did I expect: her loss was just six months old.  Mom had bought Christmas gifts, but she couldn't bring herself to wrap them.  After church, I went to the basement and wrapped all the gifts.  The next morning was our first Christmas without dad.  Mom was so depressed, she struggled to get out of bed.  My brother and I pleaded with her to get up.  She had a five-year old and Santa HAD to come.  Somehow we made it through that Christmas, together.  After that, each Christmas was easier.  I was home for the two summers after dad died.  I watched my sister by day then worked nights so my mom could work days, and my sister didn't have to go to summer daycare.  

Being together as a family has always been easy.  In our early years, my brother and I had spent a significant amount of time pounding on one another, "He's touching me!" "She started it!" "He's in my airspace!" "She coughed on me, on purpose!!!" "He ate the bigger half of the...!" "She took the last...!" "He's looking at me!" "She laughed!" It was how we worked out our hierarchy and it was what bonded us together. I was good at punching my brother, then timing it where mom or dad would see him retaliating.  I think it was a gift I had.  We were experts at driving Mom and Dad a little bonkers.  But in times of crisis, I do know I can count on my brother for anything.  All the experiences we have shared, have made us a strong family unit...even as we have grown and now have our own families.  My sister and I have shared experiences too, but mostly they started as the ones surrounding the seven months of our mom's battle with cancer. We walked that walk together with our brother, but it was mostly my sister and I who took the reins of that beast.  Since then, my sister has helped me celebrate points in my life.  She traveled with me to Disney World where I turned the big 5-0, she helped celebrate my receiving my Masters, and she's been my rock through my divorce.  

My sister and her husband grew up as only children.  These past few days together, I watched their children be normal siblings.  They argued, they socked one another, they played together, they laughed, they negotiated, they snuck around, they mothered/fathered one another, and they shared, always having the others in mind.  My sister worried that her kids were being too loud, too rambunctious, talked too much, were too messy, etc.  They were being kids.  What I saw was family bonding in progress: love building.  They were away from their home base and yet they had one another.  I am a little sad for my sister and BIL that they didn't grown up with siblings close to their age or at all. They stress out when their kids are being normal kids.  It's a kids job to stress their parents out a little!

I wouldn't trade my life experience of having siblings for anything.  My sister, my brother and I were all lucky, and brave enough, to give our children siblings close to their own age.  I trust all our kids will know they have someone they can truly count on when times get tough.  Hopefully they can look at their parent and Aunt or Uncle as good examples of how one should love, respect and stand by their siblings as they age.

After our mom died, I felt even more responsible for the family.  I'm the patriarch now.  I hope I am doing things correctly.  If I don't hand down family traditions, how will our legacy go on? New traditions happen, but I don't want my parents to be forgotten.  What a huge weight of responsibility.  

~Lisa Kroll
          sister, mother, aunt (spelled ant at times), friend, and family member

Tonight's blogging music had me thinking of my mom mostly as she loved Christmas.    Straight No Chaser: all their Christmas music...but my favorite, Indiana Christmas.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


From an early age, I heard...'when you finish high school, you will go to college'.  What was implied:  People who had an education were better than the people to whom I belonged.  I know my parents just wanted the best for me, but somehow they made me feel I wasn't enough as I was. As I read what I have written, I know they were really saying I could achieve so much more than they had.  A child's perspective can be skewed in the wrong way.  Sometimes children think they have more world experience than they really do.  Life is meant to take a long time.  We need time to work through all the challenges that come with the ride.  

Through our life, we play different roles.  We take our cues from those around us. I knew what was expected of me.  I grew up in a gated community.  My parents were blue collar workers.  I remember thinking, how are we allowed to live here?  We were not anyone important.  In fact, we were nobodies.  Rich people lived in gated communities.  I grew up feeling someone was going to find out I wasn't the same as everyone else.  I wasn't elite.  I didn't fit in with the members of this gated community.  True, my parents were hard working individuals as were many of the other parents.  But these people played golf.  They played tennis.  They swam. The evidence was in the golf course, tennis courts, swimming pool and the tags needed to do these activities.  I had these tags.  Yes, I played golf.  Yes, I played tennis.  Yes, I swam.  However, both my mom and dad had to work in order for us to live in the house we lived.  Money was tight.  The budget didn't have much wiggle room.  When I needed dental work, and I needed a lot, I felt incredibly guilty.  I felt I owed my hard working parents for all they sacrificed for me.  There were fights over money spending.  I don't recall there ever being a fight over money spent on my issues, but I was a sensitive kid.  I took things personally.  I'm a sensitive grown woman.  I still take things personally.  I knew growing up that rich people were popular. I was cute, and I was smart, but I was not popular. At school, time and again I'd watch boys go for the pretty girls.  No one really wants a cute girl and when you add smart to the mix, they definitely don't want you.  Cute and smart are not part of the popular group.  So, I spent my growing up years feeling like I was going to be found out.  Someone had let my family into this gated community and we really weren't supposed to be here. Rich people were the popular group and that wasn't me.  I didn't feel that was my family either.  I sighed an audible sigh when I was able to escape the social expectations of growing up, daughter of blue collar parents, carefully living to not be discovered in a gated community. I made it through high school and no one found out.  

I went away to college.  It was my way to repay my parents, and I was still looking for a way to not be found out.  I wasn't that rich girl some thought.  Maybe through my education I could prove that I was capable.  I could take care of my parents, or at least not be a burden to them.  I could take care of myself.  Relief filled my soul when I met people who didn't know where I came from.  I met boys from all over the state, country and world.   They seemed to like cute, smart girls.  Maybe they were just being boys away from home...no social norms to follow.  They didn't know they weren't supposed to be looking at some imposter, non-rich, not popular girl.  I was scared I still couldn't measure up. College was an interesting playground for me. I struck pay dirt when I was asked to marry a boy who had parents that were BOTH college graduates.  My M.R.S.  

Educated people were better than the people I belonged with, right?  This thought constantly went through my brain.  I know I felt I had finally been welcomed into the popular group of life.  Yes!  Success!!!  I made it to the elite group.  To the big kids table.  I was finally worthy to live in the gated community. Academia leads to aristocracy...right?   

It took me over 25 years to learn the lesson: just because someone appears smarter, doesn't make them so.  Nor does smart make one better than another.  See, my whole lifetime I've felt that even though I was smart, I really wasn't as smart as __blank__, some-undefined-one else.  You can randomly fill in the space for that someone, it just depended on the situation or the circumstance.  The truth I know today is that I am not like anyone else.  I am still cute and smart.  My smarts are not the same as yours, and that's a really good thing.  

I once thought there was a perfect family; my fairytale.  This family was educated, and I was allowed to join their "team".  I thought they could do no wrong.  It turns out their story wasn't what I thought.  From the outside, one can only see a fraction of whatever someone else allows to be seen.  That perfect family...turns out they were human.  They are just as dysfunctional as the rest of us.  Being educated just meant they learned their life lessons a different way.  It didn't mean they were better. 

Reflecting on my youth, I had grown up in the perfect family and I realized it much too late.  My own parents had hearts bigger than anyone I may ever know in my lifetime.  My parents may not have had degrees signed from an academic facility, but they were smarter, happier, more loving, more honest, more community minded, and more respected than anyone who has yet to cross my life path. Those are wonderfully big attributes to have and to live up too.  

My mom passed away 10 years ago today from Glioblastoma Multiforme.  I was blessed to be by her side for the seven months we knew about the cancer.  When roles reverse and you need to take care of your parents in the ways you did your infant children and beyond, a part of your soul awakens that you didn't even know existed.  You become a much stronger version of yourself.  Version 2.1.  You realize truths that may have always been around.  Previously acceptable ways no longer become acceptable.  Subconsciously you do change.  You realize that life truly is short.  You start living that thought:  Life. Is. Short.  That means that you start to speak up for what you want in the time you might have remaining on this wonderful Earth.  You realize unfinished dreams, and you reach for them.  You realize how precious the time you have left really is with those you love.  If you are lucky, the person you married as young twenty-somethings is also changing in these ways and your lives will align so you may share the rest of the journey.  Unfortunately for me, I had a different path of challenges yet to face.  In addition to today being the anniversary of my mom's passing, it also would have been my 30th wedding anniversary.  My divorce was official 17 months ago.  Bittersweet day.  Yet life moves forward.  

No regrets.  I do realize I am rich beyond my wildest dreams.  I am thankful to no longer be confined, nor limited. 

Love, my friends.  
Be thankful.  

~Lisa Kroll, definitely eating, praying and loving these days
Feeling thankful for my family and especially for how I was raised.  

Tonight's blogging music:  
The Lumineers, Cleopatra

"Things I knew when I was young.  Some were true and some were wrong."   - the Gun Song, The Lumineers, Cleopatra Album

dedicated to Patricia T. Scubelek-O'Conner
written on 11/19/16 and edited and published on 11/22/16