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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Branches On My Tree - Repost from 2007

This weekend has been traumatic for my family, and though everyone is fine, I'm exhausted. I'm doing the family thing, and will hopefully be back to writing later in the week. In the meantime, here's a post from two years ago. I hope you enjoy it, and hug your family members close, hold them a little longer. You never know.



Friday, October 19, 2007
Branches on My Tree

Some of you may remember in my list of 8 Random Topics about Me preliminary post, that I listed the fact that I am the oldest child of three.

Actually, I’m the oldest of five, if you count the two sisters my mother didn’t give birth to---the two siblings who didn’t share my childhood.

It’s a strange thing, to have sisters who didn’t grow up in my home but are still a piece of my family. I grew up with three parents who were always a part of my childhood. We never said “step-sister” or “half-brother”. So, instead of a mom, dad and step-dad, I had one mother and two fathers, and I was very happy in spite of the divorce that came when I was nine. It was hard on my sister and me. But we adapted. And we were loved.

It wasn’t long before my second dad came along and married my mom. Soon after my little brother, Derek was born. But before Derek, my other dad brought us a sister, Angela. She only came on weekends, but she was just the cutest thing, and the three of us had so much fun. After a while, she stopped coming. We really missed her. A few years after Derek was born, my first dad remarried and had a baby girl, Natasha – the cutest little baby I’d ever seen. I was a teenager, and I loved babysitting for this beautiful, dark haired child.

So, I am the oldest of five.

My brother Derek, who will be thirty, next year, talks with me often about the wonder he finds in our family tree---the people who came before us with dark, thick hair, or freckles, or high foreheads, and how he can see them in himself, his sisters, and our children. How his love for the woods and the water must be a genetic predisposition, passed from a great-great-great-grandfather who spent his life among the trees, listening to the voice of the wind in the branches.

Derek is eleven years younger than I am. When he was very small, he started calling me Bubba. It’s an unusual nickname, borrowed from a little friend of his who used it for her older brother. Though he’s been six-foot-something for nearly fifteen years, he’s always been my little brother, It’s odd, now, to look at him and see a man who’s not only “full-growed”, but whose face is painted by the life he’s lived.

Derek is a man who stands for something, no matter the cost. He believes in love even as his heart is healing. He can make you laugh in about three seconds, and sing a song that would cut right through your soul. He’s a loyal friend, and someone I’m better for knowing. And even now, when the phone rings, and I hear, “Hey, Bubba, I love you.” I’m the happiest big sister alive.

Before Derek came along, there was always my little sister. Alissa is three years younger than I am, but I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t my playmate. We used to dump all of our toys out and scatter them about our tiny bedroom. Sitting in the empty toy box, we’d sail away on a ship to Africa, or drive a bus to school. We could make believe like no other kids we knew. Summer afternoons were spent at Mimi and Grandpa’s house playing outside with all the neighborhood kids. We’d put together a talent show and rehearse for hours. As twilight would fall, we’d drag the adults out onto the lawn and perform in the front porch spotlight. We were such a hit!

For my sister and me, things were always a competition. We argued over chores and the television. I remember throwing a peanut-butter sandwich at her in the heat of the moment, and a plastic dinner plate on another occasion. Somehow as we grew older, our friendship became more and more of a rivalry. I wasn’t thrilled when she joined the choir after me, or when she got a job at the Sonic where I worked. She didn’t like it when everyone called her my sister.

When I got married and started having kids, and Alissa soon did the same, we quickly realized how amazing it was to have each other as friends. My sister never met a stranger. She’s the kindest, most generous person I know. She’s an amazing mom and wife, and when her husband did a tour of duty in Afghanistan, I watched her hold everything together, manage the household, her job, and their finances, while sleeping alone every night in their bed, and praying every day he’d come home safely. Watching her through all of that, I knew---she was my hero.

Looking back, I still sometimes feel like the oldest child of three, and I often wonder what I missed out on with Angela and Natasha. As an adult, I’ve had the chance to get to know Natasha better. She’s a really beautiful and fun person. And though I don’t know Angela that well, I wish we’d all had the chance to share toy box adventures, and long conversations walking home from school together.

Childhood passes too quickly, and a kid can never have too many siblings to share it with.


1 comment:

Nothing Profound said...

What a rich, wonderful family life you have! So rare these days to see siblings so loving and close.

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