I’ve talked a little about this before and found that the time has come where I need to discuss the issue again. Family sure can be a peculiar relationship, we do seem to have our roles and hopefully all are loving each other unconditionally. This is not to say that we must like each others actions in the same manner. But that old saying that ‘blood is thicker than water’ does seem to hold true (to this girl anyway). Thereby making so much more of what is done (or not done) socially acceptable by our family than would be by our friends.
I’m the youngest of four with five years between myself and the next sibling; ten years between myself and the oldest. Not a lot of years, but enough to not be included in the ‘play time’ of my next older sibling. “She’s too little…” or “does she have to come along?” would be the replies when asked to take me with her to play.
Now my oldest sister looked after us and became more of a ‘mom’ to me in particular after our father passed away. But when you think of it that is the role; is it not? The oldest sort of takes on the ‘responsible’ role of ‘leader’; then there was my brother (a couple of years behind her) and then came my next sister about three years behind him. And then, SURPRISE! I came along about five years after that.
One wrinkle in our little family is that our father passed away only one year after I was born which adds quite a new dimension to our little lives. It also adds a bit of a separation to our little family. My sibling’s think I’m a bit nuts, but I think about this for a minute. I think of it as if we were two families, in a way. ‘They’ (the top three) were the traditional ‘nuclear’ family, with a Mom and a Dad and all was right with the world. They had a home where mother stayed home to cook, clean, raise the family, fixed the ‘highball’ for daddy when he got home from work. Had dinner ready and might even spruce up for him so as not to look too drab.
I, on the other hand, was raised in a single parent home, primarily as an only child. I say this because by the time I was able, my oldest sister was off to college, my brother not far behind and the next sister was in high school and barely home (you know, off doing what teenager’s do). Then off to college she went as well. So, it was me and Mom, home together. To cope with her fears, my mother chose alcohol (the drug of choice in so many of my friends parents lives in the 70s) and, with that as her influence, she chose to take her fear out on me (not always mind you, but occasionally and ALWAYS at the most a pro pro times) there were days where her reminding me of how inadequate I was or how much of a disappointment I was seemed more of a comfort to her than as a scolding for me. As if to say, “I’ve done everything I can and just can’t understand why oh why, out all my children, you insist on being the way you are…”
Now, I realize I’m painting quite a grim picture; life wasn’t always that grim. There were some great times and of course I have some wonderful memories and before I go on, I need to point out that I’ve since made peace with my mother; face to face and arms wide open. So that said, something my siblings don’t seem to understand is that this person they know as their youngest sister; this person, I’ve come to realize, they don’t know at all. Nor do they know the life she had, the friends she has, the triumphs, the disappointments or the tragedies (there were a few but I’ve been too fearful to tell… too much judgment).
My two sisters have become very close over the years, a closeness that I’ve secretly been jealous of and had managed to keep under ‘wraps’; that is until this last Christmas. It’s a long story, but let’s just say that I let a comment come out that should have stayed in (my head that is…). My mother used to always say, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” This is a piece of advice I sure wish I would have followed . But, in true form and also to quote my mother, my mouth got me into a whole lot of trouble.
The problem is that my words stirred up a hornets nest of trouble. All of a sudden my sister’s now think I thought they were ‘evil’ and that they thought I didn’t love them or they didn’t love me… [what a mess!]. And so I got to thinking, where in the world is my ‘green monster’ coming from? And why would my comment cause such a ruckus?
Some of this is part of that ‘outside looking in’ thing (I’ve talked about it before, haven’t I?). I’ve always felt this way, even when I was little. Of course, much of it was the fact that they all have a common bond with a man that I never knew (you remember my mentioning him?), my father. There will always be a bit of envy and sadness that I can’t seem to get past. I hope to someday, but it is a process that I keep working on. We all go through phases in our lives where that horrible ‘green-eyed monster’ comes to life for reasons none of us can fathom. And we have to simply recognize it and let it go.
I love my family, my siblings would give me the shirts off their backs, I know this. We all learned a lesson at an early age and that was that life is precious and short and that your loved ones are all you have. Nothing monetary will ever make up for family. Some might have looked at us when we were so young and said, “poor dears, they lost their father, he was so young.” But I can truly say, the knowledge we gained and the love we have for each other is a gift and that our father’s death was not in vain.
In some way I like to think that our dad’s death gave us a legacy; the legacy of unconditional love and compassion for each other and others. Living through that loss, we unfortunately learned many truths of life; however, ‘compassion and love’ was what we ultimately learned. But we need to know that we deserve this for ourselves and must grab it with both hands and claim it for it is our birthright. So, I didn’t know my father in the physical sense but I certainly felt him growing up and I have and continue to claim my birthright I just hope my siblings follow suit and claim theirs.
The bottom line is that with family, we should all be allowed our ‘green eyed monsters’; shouldn’t we? Where else can we make complete asses of ourselves and still be loved if not with our families? I Love each of my siblings, they carry a special friendship that I will never be able to replace in anyone else, ever, in my lifetime. I just hope that they can realize this and understand. Somehow, I think they do. Our mother taught us well, after all; we are all we have.