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Sun May 27, 2012, 03:35 PM

Siblings

My living room has one wall that's devoted to a gallery of family photographs. My favorite photo of my siblings never fails to make me smile. In that picture my sister is bracketed by my two brothers. People look at that picture and ask if she's standing in a hole, given that "the boys" are at least a head taller than she is; and I admit to enjoying the reaction when I explain that my sister is actually a couple of inches taller than me. Being the runt of this particular litter is quite a privilege.

The picture was taken about twenty years ago, and our robust Viking antecedents are clearly visible. Today both brothers are Navy vets; one did repeated tours in Vietnam, the other retired from the navy less than two weeks before the events of 9-11. And both brothers are in rockin' awe of the baby sister whose corporate success pales in comparison to her vigorous community activism on behalf of people and planet.

The past few years have seen some strains among us, especially between me and the younger brother; he's the only one of us to subscribe to the rightwing philosophy, and there have been some harsh words and hurt feelings on both sides. But we've still connected at birthdays and holidays, and to my great joy and relief he and the older brother remain the best of friends. In the main my sister and I have always enjoyed the comfortable knowledge that these two stalwarts would rush to our sides should the need arise, and they have, so has she.

A couple months back we found out that the younger brother's wife is ill with terminal cancer; they initially gave her two years, and that was quickly shortened to six months upon. Yesterday he called to tell me, as he tried to choke back tears, that it was now a matter of days. We spent several minutes just crying together. Normally, he would have had that conversation with the other brother who would have then informed the rest of us; but that older brother had a heart attack this week, and is now home with a bucket of meds and two stents. The universe, it seems, sometimes has a perverse sense of timing.

It's been more than half a century since I first held my little brother; eighteen months later I first held my sister. They gave me the lifelong sense of peace that comes, rather uniquely, with having a tiny life trusting my shoulder to be a safe place for a nap or a cry. My older brother, for all our childhood spats and squabbles, has always been a bulwark. I wasn't nearly ready for my younger brother's return to my shoulder, nor less for my older brother's sudden frailty. I was not ready.


Memorial Day. We remember and honor those who serve. My older brother's service in Vietnam, his service as a deacon in his church, his many years of service as a volunteer fireman. My sister's devotion to caring for our parents, her continuing service as community organizer and member of city council, her professional career that very much enhanced the technology that enables us to stay in touch. My younger brother's long service in the Navy with several years on the Kittyhawk, the ministry to which he was ordained while still in the Navy, his devoted service to his special needs son and to the people of his church and community. I am humbled and grateful that these good people are my siblings. My heroes.


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Reply Siblings (Original post)
madamesilverspurs May 2012 OP
southernyankeebelle May 2012 #1
tularetom May 2012 #2
Suich May 2012 #3

Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Sun May 27, 2012, 03:54 PM

1. Your family sounds like alot of families. You brought back memories for me. Our youngest

 

brother who died of lung cancer about 4 yrs ago. He never smoked a day in his life. He would have been 40. He was about 2 weeks short of his birthday. We are all getting older now and I went to my granddaughter's kindergarden graduation yesterday and had tears in my eyes thinking I pray I live to see her graduate high school. I have A-Fib. I just want to make it so my grand daughter will remember me when she is older.

My son and his wife were married once and remarried after divorcing. I tell you all I do is worry about my granddaughter. I see my son's point of view. But I told him my granddaughter comes first. I am sick and tired of them always fighting.

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Sun May 27, 2012, 04:09 PM

2. Thank you for posting that

This is the time of year I miss my parents the most. They both re-enlisted in the Navy in the months after Pearl Harbor, when I was less than a year old. Both survived the war although my dad suffered bouts of malarial related chills and fever until his death about 10 years ago.

They are my heroes as is my older sister who looked after me and my younger brother when both parents worked full time and attended college under the GI bill in the late 40's. She's been gone since 1987 and although nobody wanted to believe it at the time I'm pretty sure she was gay.

It's just me, my brother and my maternal uncle (a D-Day veteran of the 101st Airborne) left now. And he's almost 90.

My own military career was undistinguished so it's nice to be able to have people to look up to who served in a truly good cause.

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Sun May 27, 2012, 06:03 PM

3. Beautiful tribute!

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