I've been thinking a lot about my sisters lately, for some reason. I think part of it is that in my writings of the past couple years, my focus has been so much on my brothers and male relationships that I've maybe slighted the impact my sisters have had on my life. The other reason, I think, is because the death of my brother has changed our family dynamic, in good ways, and one of the most noticeable is my relationship with my sisters.
Because we're far apart (300 miles from one, and 2000 from another) we've never had a "call ya every week" kind of relationship. I can tell you on one hand how many times I've talked to them on the phone in the last ten years, we're not that kind of siblings. We all have families of our own, all with kids, jobs, mortgages and all the stress that comes with all of those things. None of us are big phone people anyway (at least I'm not) and so it would be odd to talk to them more than once a year on the phone anyway.
While the phone thing is not part of our relationship, things like email, facebook and, now texting, are. Facebook in particular has brought the three of us (and our kids and mom) closer together. I've had some great message chats with Jane and Pat on a weekend night where we've just goofed around, kidded each other and had a laugh. Emails too are our way of keeping in touch with big events like holidays, birthdays and such. They usually start out innocently enough with dates, times and places and end up with long ramblings from Pat about something unrelated. It's her style, it's funny and we all know it's just the way she thinks.
These sisters were the ones that, in-essence, raised me, Rob and Paul. Tom taught us how to be a man and how to work a power tool, while Pat and Jane taught us how to clean a house, have self-respect, and how to love one another through what we do and say. I am thankful for both sides of the equation because it makes me a more complete person.
Along those lines, I know I'm a better husband and a better father because of what I saw in my sisters when they were raising their families and I was still a wild twenty something prolonging my "free years" before I finally settled down and raised my own kids. I recall visiting Pat one time and seeing her cooking dinner for her kids and it struck me as so odd. She had all the obligations my own mother did and for me, someone who was still single, it just seemed so far away for me. Yet at the same time, she was going about the duties of being a mother as best she knew, because that was what had been done for her. Her kids are grown and independent now, a testament to how well she did it.
Jane too has grown kids now, and there is no one alive who loved parenting and loves her kids as much as my sister. She ate up parenthood, everything about it. Birthdays, first days of school, sports, graduations, college, jobs and soon enough weddings. To further prove how much she loves kids, she has been there for my kids, just the same. She loves them as her own and the same goes for the rest of my sibs' kids too. She is truly happy because we're happy. That's her prayer for us. Happy families. It's so important to her.
Then there was the sister I never knew, Linda. I often wonder what her personality would be like. Would she have been the adventurous outdoors type? The athlete? The brainiac? Furthermore, how would her place in the order of the family have changed each of our personalities? You have to know it would have changed the whole family dynamic in some ways. All I've seen is pictures, but I wonder what I'll say to her when I meet her face to face someday? It is a day that I firmly believe will happen and when it does and we're all finally reunited in heaven, it's going to be very loud in that room.
I love my sisters!
Anyway, if you are ever in need of a photo of me again, please, I beg you, just ask me - I'm pretty sure I can come up with something slightly more flattering! I'm not real crazy about this getting old thing, and when I see a picture like that, reminding me that the bloom is long gone from the rose, it makes me want to pull out my quickly graying hair and run to the nearest plastic surgeon!
Love you Jim!