Monday, February 16, 2009

Siblings

Abby says,
Siblings. Some like Mars. Some like Venus. That's what makes the world go round in so many different ways. Until recently, I've not contemplated my siblings.

We are a sandwich. I'm the youngest, my sis is in the middle (4 years my elder), and my brother is the oldest (4 years older than my sister). All my life, I got along well with my brother. My sis and I were a different story. When we were teenagers, our over sized bathroom with dual sinks was never big enough for the two of us. We fought, we screamed, we yelled. We threw things. It was not until I "grew up" in my college years that I finally appreciated having another chick to hang with.

Just as we were getting to know one another and appreciate the friendship we had, she got married and moved far away. Fast forward 27 years. She is back, but sadly because our dad has been unexpectedly ill.

Until a family crisis rears its ugly head, you never appreciate just how different siblings really are. During the high stress periods in the hospital, I think we all three wondered, "Are we REALLY related to one another?" I even joked about it with my dad as he lay in his hospital bed. What's great about us all being very different is that we have been able to contribute different sets of expertise and make the best of our situation. I am the one with all the doctor contacts. My sister is very detail-oriented and has a book keeping background -- which has been a God send in organizing everything. My brother works behind the scenes and is a thinker who comes up with ideas. He's also the peace-maker who tries to keep us all from killing one another and keep everyone on a level playing field. We all 3 do things very differently, however, in the situation with my dad, it did not matter. It's just great to have 2 other intelligent people with different perspectives pitching in.

And, we have a long road to go with his health care. Until now, I've never thought about how different we really are. I just know I am so lucky to have them both, especially considering the situation we have been through the past 3 months.

Sheri says:
This is a hard topic for me to discuss without sounding negative. I do not have siblings and I vacillate between resenting those who do and being grateful that I do not have to engage in sibling wars.

I am unusually close to my parents but I don't believe it's because I'm an only child. I think they would be this way with any other children they might have had. They have "adopted" others over the years and they are loved as much as I am.

Like most things, being an only child has its plusses and negatives. I've never felt lonely -- I have enough personalities to entertain myself alone. I've never lacked for friends and many I love as much, if not more, as any phantom siblings I may have had. I've studied families over the years and like everything else, some are stronger than others. Some siblings are thick as thieves while others rarely acknowledge each other. Or, only do so in times of family crisis.

That's when I get a little nervous. When a parent is ill or dies, I see families come together. Regardless of family history or lurking issues, siblings embrace their shared history, make decisions and support each other. My parents are usually quite healthy but during our few times of crisis, I feel alone. No one has the vested interest in these two people as I do. No one shares my childhood or my genetic quirks.

It serves no purpose at this point in my life to wish for something I do not have. But I hope those of you who are blessed with great siblings will cherish them. Be nice to the odd ones too.

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