Archive for Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sibling relationships endure, mature

June 19, 2008

As I grow older, I have come to appreciate much more my relationship with my brother and sister. We have never had a really competitive relationship, but one of mutual support.

Of course, in our growing-up years, there were times when we clashed and competed. I remember a time when my "little" brother, who was several years younger than I, received a pretty well-delineated bite on his arm. I was, sadly, the biter, but I quickly found a scapegoat - our gentle, long-suffering collie, Lady. Fortunately for her, a human's tooth pattern doesn't match that of a dog, even to the eye of a non-CSI investigator.

My little brother may have been smaller than I in those days, but he was always tough and too stubborn to give up easily. These are character traits he has kept all of his life and which have served him well in his profession as an attorney. He's a good man to have on one's side.

My sister, a little more than a couple of years younger, never physically entered the fray. She always would stand away from the physical action, but she could vocalize her feelings extremely well. And, she was quick to offer comfort.

But, aside from a few quarrels, we always played together happily. We had to do so because we were so far from neighbors. We didn't even go to kindergarten and when we began school, it was in a one-room country schoolhouse.

We spent a lot of time together, so we knew each other very well. We generally would go to bat for each other. There wasn't a lot of tattle-tale activity. Our parents didn't go easy with punishment, and we knew it. We didn't want each other to suffer to the point that there were occasions when one of us would volunteer to take the other's punishment. The offer was never accepted, but sometimes the volunteer would receive some punishment in addition to that of the one condemned.

When I went off to school at Kansas University, I was followed by my sister and brother when they graduated from high school. We saw each other off and on as we went our separate ways. In those years, we interacted at various times as each of us married and made our way into young adulthood.

We ended up living in completely different parts of this country. I have spent my entire life in Kansas - first in the extreme southwestern corner and now in the more populous northeastern part of the state.

My sister has lived in many parts of this country and for a while in England. Now she lives in Denver, where she is an archival librarian for the city of Denver. She spends her days emptying boxes of archival collections, cataloguing and classifying them and placing the descriptions on the Internet.

My brother has his own law firm in Frederick, Md., where he lives. Although my brother's three children live within visiting distance of him, my sister's two boys are in the U.S. Navy and are stationed on opposite sides of our country.

There was never a time when I wasn't in touch with my brother and sister and their families, but today I chat with my brother and sister on the phone at least several times a month and often more. I e-mail and send them pictures that they can retrieve and comment on immediately.

I also stay in touch by e-mail with my niece and nephews. I have my children, my siblings and their children on e-mail lists so that I can send them all news - either separately or at once - thanks to the wonder of the Internet.

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