Brothers and Sisters.

I am the youngest of four siblings. Doug and Nick are barely a year apart, followed by Amelie, then me. Sometimes I watch the four of us around the dinner table and wonder how we were each born from the same two parents. And then in rarer times, quieter times, I see the subtle thread that ties us; the binding, intangible something in our hearts that seeks greatness and loves easy. On many nights, like tonight, I wonder who I’d be without my siblings. And if I’m feeling extra philosophical, I wonder what the world would be like without them. I find them that important! There’s a strong energy about the four of us. We do OK on our own, but there’s this tangible vibrancy when we’re together. And this unintended dynamic of reverse reciprocals has formed among us. Where one is slow the other is fast. Where one is hard the other is soft. Where one yells the other soothes. Where one forgets the other remembers.

What has occurred to me recently is that each one of us carries a different piece of our dad around. And this is why I think there is such powerful and positive energy when the four of us are together; we’re putting together four pieces to revive a beautiful whole. Since each of our relationships with our dad was different, and we were all different ages when he died, we all carry something different. My brother Doug carries his Peace and Patience. Nick carries his thoughtfulness and social graces. Amelie carries his joyful “Burst of Sunshine” characteristic. And I carry his attentiveness to the voiceless. We ALL carry his sense of humor, his fearlessness in being weird, his desire to play meaningless pranks, and his simple talent of just being fun. At least, we all try.

Dad reading to the kids, Christmas '84 (click to enlarge)

Having the three of them in my life has been a true gift. And maybe while I’m prancing around in LaLa Land I should clear up that we are NOT The Brady Bunch over here. We  have plenty of dysfunctional to pass around. We yell at each other, make fun of each other, grow insanely impatient with one another, and sometimes we even wrestle. It isn’t uncommon for my brother to call me a turd sandwich or my sister to call Nick an asshole at least once every few days. When it happens, usually I’m acting like a turd sandwich and Nick is in fact acting like an asshole. Sometimes he calls Amelie a pain in the ass, which she can be. And we all yell at Doug for being the slowest human being on the planet. BUT. But, but, but. Behind any name-calling, shouting, mental or physical abuse, there is a deep and unbreakable love. It’s always been there. Even in my loneliest of times, there has been a quiet assurance in the back of my mind that I am not actually alone. I know in the that before I’m out under a bridge somewhere, I have three doors to knock on first, and each I know would open.

Whether in the form of a helping hand, money, food, shelter, an ear, a reality check, a pat on the back, or a cheering-up, we’ve all lent to one another different things at different times. And it’s a real treasure that we’re able to do that. You’ll have to excuse my notalgic sulking, I’m a little down in the dumps now that the house is quiet and there isn’t a cacophony of sibling rivalry bouncing off our walls. I always get sad after we make the last trip to the airport to bid the last family member adieu. Today we said good-bye to Nick, and all is finally quiet here. I’ve always loved the chaos of having them home. Ever since I was in 7th grade and Doug was first to go off to college, I always became exceedingly anxious around late November, because it meant everyone was coming home again. We’d finally all be together. Now I’m 27, and still the anxious kid around November, and sulky in early January, after everybody leaves. Anyway, I need to stop boo-hooing. Just thought I’d let Doug, Nick, and Amelie know, I love you. A lot. Even though you’re all turd sandwiches. Can’t wait till next year.

Health, Happiness, And A Quiet House Again.

152 thoughts on “Brothers and Sisters.

  1. favorite part: “…the binding, intangible something in our hearts that seeks greatness and loves easy.” Amazing job at using a few words to paint such a vivid picture.

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  2. Nice post. I understand. My family can be quite dysfunctional and we’re spread across the country, but it’s nice that we worry all year long about getting together (at least physically) at Christmas. It’s very cool. Congrats on FP.

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  3. I’m the third of four sisters and I love them all to the ends of the earth but, damn it they annoy the crap out of me sometimes! But you’re right… I can’t imagine life without them, and I know that no matter what they’ll always be there for me. Sometimes I worry that I rely on them too much, to the detriment of my non-familial relationships. But they’re awesome and they get me so much better than some of my friends ever will.

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  4. It was awesome for your cousins to see all of you this Christmas!!! It was like the old days, without the Slithery Dee (man, I loved that!!). Also, turd sandwiches run in the family…we have them in ours too. :)
    Hope you’re doing ok.

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  5. Love this post. My sister drives me crazy and my brother can too but at the end of the day they will always be there if I need them and vice versa!

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  6. I once heard that the most common regret expressed by people is not having a better relationship with their siblings. I’ve got a younger brother and sister, and I adore them. Sibling love (and rivalry) has no equal on this planet.

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  7. Your post made me happy and just a little jealous. I have three younger brothers who all suck! Would trade with you, but I don’t think you would go for that! Thank you for the wonderful story to go with my morning coffee!

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  8. I have 2 siblings. Since we stay in different part of my country, it’s difficult for us to be together even on christmas. Nice post. Family is a real treasure :)

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  9. “a tangible vibrancy” – yes definitly when my sister and I are together; and yes we both also do alright on our own, however as we have got older that subtle thread has grown thicker and ties us closer.

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  10. “We do OK on our own, but there’s this tangible vibrancy when we’re together.” Exactly what I feel when I’m with my two younger sisters! :) Awesome post!

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  11. I really liked this post. I’m actually writing a short story collection about brothers and sisters. I think it’s the most complex and beautiful relationship people can have.

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  12. This was a sweet, funny & beautifully written post. It takes some good writing for anything containing the words “turd sandwhich” to get put in the category of “beautifully written” but you’ve earned it :)

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  13. Oh I can relate, I am one of seven brothers and sisters and if you thought the Brady bunch was nice – well we probably looked like monsters. but in all honesty – we had our own way of doing things and we love each other.

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  14. I hear this is your second freshly pressed title. I guess you’d want to capture two more to dedicate one equally amongst the siblings! Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed again.

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  15. What a wonderful post! I feel the same about my two sisters. They sometimes drive me nuts but they are, without a doubt, two of my very best friends. I think we actually grow closer with each passing year. Thanks for sharing.

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  16. How sweet. And no apologies for your sentimental sulking. I love the part you said about the four of you being parts of your dad and when you’re together you are his whole being.
    I’m very close with my parents. I don’t want to imagine the day without them. My siblings are crazy but loveable. So I will take this with me when I’m with them.
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. You’re awesome, and not just in a fibromy way.

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  17. I get the sibling thing – I don’t want to spend more than a few uninterrupted hours with my sibs, but I know any of them would give me a kidney or a car or a plane ticket if I needed it – and vice versa! Thanks for sharing from the heart.

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  18. Very sweet, and definitely relatable. I have several siblings, and our mom died when the oldest was ten. We all have a mix of her traits, and we balance each other out with the mixture. Christmastime usually brings its share of gloominess for me, when I don’t get a chance to see them. Lovely shout-out to your brothers and sister! :)

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  19. My father was in prison for seven years and it wasn’t until my step sister (who’s father had died before her mother remarried my father – they met on the Air Force Base where my father was an inmate and met my step mother at the office where she worked there) that I began to look at my separation from my father differently. Real death is more than the act of separation which is like a death in many ways. Some things can never be salvaged and others only with temerity. My sister was only a year old when this happened, and all of her formative years were years my father was MIA. She has relinquished the role of memory keeper to me which is both good and bad in some ways. For her sake, I think she should make more time for our father because the ways in which we walled out his missing time are not the same as the final curtain call of death and I sometimes worry that she will be at a greater loss than she realizes if she doesn’t give him time now that he is free and ‘alive’ again.

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  20. What a sweet post. Though I feel the same way about my siblings, they’d probably think I was up to something if I wrote such kind things about them. I too have three doors I can knock on that I know will open; nicely put!

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  21. We canines sometimes become bored with our human companions – they are often, too shallow, too self-possessed, too lacking in legitmate caring for others… It is so refresing to see a human who has the depth and warmth of feeling, who understands and celebrates it, and is young enough to enjoy life to its fullest because of your grasp of what living is truly about. I shared your post with my human. After reading it, though a tear was in his eye, he smiled and said, “It’s truly wonderful to know such people still breath on this planet. The lady has the heart, the soul, … and the pen of Hemingway.” Thanks for sharing – Sandy
    http://www.SandySays1.wordpress.com

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  22. If there was a ‘love’ button instead of just ‘like’, I would have clicked it. Everything you wrote resonated so much with me, and I can relate to all of it. I am the middle of 3 kids, and I cannot even begin to imagine my life with my older sister and my younger brother. Doesn’t matter how much you might fight or the names you call each, they will always be there and you can always turn to them. I recently moved away from home (my family is in France, and I am now in Connecticut), and even though skype is great, I miss the daily craziness of just being all together.

    Thanks for sharing such lovely sentiments and for making me think again of how lucky I am to have my wonderful siblings. Congrats on being freshly pressed – it’s very well deserved for such a charming post!

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  23. It’s really nice to know that you guys have a wonderful bond.. I find my self luck too for having a sibling.. She’s my best friend and has been my greatest support .. We’re almost like twins born 5 years apart ..Now that she is married and living far away , I really miss her and the long talks that we had….

    Wonderful post !! :)

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  24. That is the nicest post I’ve ever read :) I am an only child and am kinda jealous….LOL I just hope my kids will continue to love each other as adults…as so many don’t. I am happy to see that you all do :)

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  25. Me, my brother, and my sister have characteristics that all compliment and counter each other also. Unfortunately me and my sister are going through a rough patch right now and its at an impasse we can’t seem to get beyond.

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    1. My sister and I were there for YEARS. Everyone said being away from each other would bring us closer together, but for the 4 years I was in college, the 1 year on the other side of the country and the 2 years IN another country, it didn’t work. What worked was putting us together again. And finally maturing. Me finally seeing that someone wanting to follow in my footsteps was a compliment. Her finally throwing off bad friends and having room to grow into her own amazing person. Us finally realizing that what makes us different, makes us compatible. I have come to love and appreciate my sister more than I ever have and I truly hope, without knowing anything about you, that you and your sister get through this in the end, too. Because having a sister you are close with is a relationship that I think those of us who are lucky enough to have, is something we should cherish.

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      1. I second Danielle. Sibling relationships are hard to maintain, but incredibly rewarding. I hope you and your sister can move forward. Life is too short for the silent treatment. You’ll both be happier when you’ve healed together and become stronger. My sister and I are really different. But we get along best when we let our differences shine.

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  26. Oh, I know what you mean about siblings…I’m the youngest of eight, by a mile, and we also lost our dad (and our mom) when I was still young, but mostly everyone else was grown. I think you are right in that when the brood comes together they are in a sense fashioning a whole, a whole missing parent. I’m sorry about your dad.

    The ineffable love between siblings, particularly if parents are gone, is a beautiful thing. Nobody understands like they do, at least in my opinion. Thanks for sharing your moment here today….peace to you. patrice

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  27. Stay tight with your siblings they mean even more when you no longer have parents… but it is so hard to keep those ties strong… people become focused on their own wifes/husbands and kids and you get shunted a little further away. I hope your bonds are stronger than mine were.

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