When I was growing up it was the natural thing to have others in front of me, on my heels and generally just there. I had seven sisters and two brothers though not all in the house at one time. My oldest sister married when I was five or so. During the school year some of my sisters were in boarding school and so for the most part, it seemed like I only had two brothers and two sisters but they were always there! My refuge at times was to walk across the road and sit on the other side of the levee that held the Mississippi River back from land, with a bayou and fields and pecan orchards between me and the river. I sat and listened to loons wailing in the background and thought about things a child would think of, all the while hoping no one would come looking for me.
Only later did I realize my brothers and sisters served a real purpose in my life. I learned how to communicate. Sometimes in shouting matches, sometimes in fun during play times, sometimes while doing chores but that was something that was a given: communication. I learned the value of siblings as I grew older. They were always there when needed and even when I didn’t think I needed them, they were there standing loyal and forgiving.
Recently, we all gathered once more in the town where we all grew up (actually, we grew up a half mile or so from the town in the country but after my father’s death my mother moved into town and settled in her home in the middle of five acres of family pecan trees.) We gathered with our own children and their children to say farewell to a loved brother-in-law. We were there to support his wife who is one of my sisters, and her three children, now adults. It was a beautiful Spring day. Everyone changed to casual wear and we all gathered for the famous photo shots so common in our family. The Orchard sported green trees, flowers blooming and lush green grass as the backdrop for smiling faces in the midst of grief.
Siblings were there, supporting, loyal and yes, forgiving. We united as if still children. We are bonded like glue that will hold us all together into eternity and though spread wide geographically, we are only a phone call, a text, an email, or via Skype away. Any one of us will drop everything and will come running if another needs or calls us.
And that is the role siblings play. It’s a natural result of having them in my life and I don’t mind if one of them comes looking for me.