...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.  


Mary Peckham said...

"I wouldn't trade my life experience of having siblings for anything."

Beautiful! MKP

Rememberer! said...

I really love reading your blog posts! They are very encouraging, especially in dark times. They bring a smile to my face. Thank you so much for sharing your stories!