Saturday, June 15, 2013

#97 He Has a Sister

This is my first time growing old.

What?  It's yours too?

When I was younger, I always thought that the older people had it all figured out.  Now that I am older I realize that no one does.  The younger ones just happen to be the more content because they are usually oblivious to the fact that none of us truly know what is going on.  After all, every person is in a first time experience of the stage of life they are currently in.  Some hide their confusion better than others, some are self deceived, some just follow modeled expectations, but we're all in this for a first and only experience.

In the movie, "Confessions of a Shopaholic" (personal confession, this is one of my favorites), Rebecca Bloomwood's father offers to sell the RV he purchased with his life savings to help pay off her debt.  She says to him, "I will kill you if you sell it.  It completely defines you.  Completely."

He responds, "Nothing defines me, except you and your mother."

Our family does define us.  It makes us who we are.  Although it might not always be good, I'd much rather be defined by people than by objects.

A family filled with children takes this idea to a whole new level.  Growing up (and still today) I was one of four children.  Wait, let me rephrase that, I was one girl with three brothers.  One sister to three brothers.  Three boys and a girl.

Yes, whatever way you say it cannot make it sound any better.

One girl against three boys...that was my life.

When my third brother was born my world collapsed.  I had convinced myself that it would be a girl.  Finding out the baby was a boy devastated me.  Children are resilient, and I was no extraordinary specimen of a child.  I soon got over it and somehow became satisfied with how life was playing out with my three boys.

My oldest brother, Justin, helped to define me from the start.  He was born two years before me, so growing up I walked in his shadow.

Note: I did not say lived in his shadow.  That would not have been cool.

Justin and I did everything together, played outside together, shared the same friends, and had the same house rules to adhere to; a two year difference did not give any cause to adjust house rules.  This continued well into our teen years.  When he learned to drive, I was learning to drive by watching.  When he got his license, I was the first he got lost with.  As we got older, and the fun of playing outside wore off, we spent a lot of time watching movies together.  One night during our high school years, I was sick and throwing up every half hour or so.  Justin sat up with me all night, and, between barfs, watched the entire first season of 24 with me.

Justin was my first friend ever.  During those years he made a deposit into my life that makes up a percentage of who I am today.

The years I was dating and first married to my husband drifted into a deposit of time and influence with my younger brother, Joel.  Oddly, Joel, who is five years younger than me, felt the need to constantly chaperone his 17-year-old sister and her boyfriend.  He clearly felt a little threatened.  Yet, this deposited in my life a clear admittance of his love for me which only grew into a relationship I never expected I would have with a brother, especially a bratty younger one.  Throughout the end of my high school years and until I married my husband, Joel, my youngest brother Jonathan, and I all slept in the same room.  We all had our own bedrooms and if we had been forced to share a bedroom, we probably would have wailed constantly about how unfair and cruel our parents were.  Yet, this situation was unique and special because we created it, and it was our very own.  During the week we would sleep on the bunk beds in my room and Jonathan would sleep on the floor.  Eventually we ended up sleeping only in the living room.

I'm sure this situation sounds out of whack.  In fact, you might question why my parents allowed such nonsense.  Children making their beds in the living room when they have their own beds to sleep in?  Preposterous, right?

For whatever reason my parents allowed it, when I look back on those bedtimes spent with my brothers, I wouldn't trade them for a million peaceful nights sleep.  We would slowly drift off to the sounds of "I Love Lucy", sometimes watch a late night movie together, and many times Joel and I would have late night conversations about life from our separate couches that we had fashioned into the perfect beds.    

No matter what happens in life, I'll always have that deposit of time and relationship made with my brother Joel.

That youngest brother, Jonathan, the one who should have been a girl, has made the largest deposit in my life.  Being born with Down syndrome did not hinder him from becoming a person who can inspire and influence those around him.  He has given me my focus in life, many of the good moral qualities I possess, as well as many of the goofy carefree ones.

I may not have been given the sister I had hoped for when I was growing up, but God still had a plan to bless me with sisters.  Three, in fact.  My first sister came through my marriage.  I didn't realize this at first, but through the years she has been everything a sister should be.  She has made fun of me, she has laughed with me, and most importantly, she has always had my back.  The biggest deposit she has ever made in my life is to love me unconditionally and for that I can never pay her back.

My second sister came to me when my brother Justin got married.  An only child herself, I never realized how important Justin's three siblings might be to her.  We are her only siblings.  She put up with a lot of sibling nonsense to get accepted into our family, but had I realized what having a sibling meant to her, I might have made an effort to make it easier on her.  She has deposited perspective into my life.  Until she came along I lived in the little world of my family and my family only.  Our way of life, our way of doing things, our way of seeing things.  I have learned to see and understand the world through other people's viewpoints because of her.

My third sister will be born on August 17th this year.  I know she will make deposits into my life that will continue to define me.  I can only hope to be the big sister to her that many, though not through marriage, have been to me.

I refuse to take complete credit for the person I am.  I am composed of the countless number of people and situations that have crossed my path during my lifetime.  My only goal is to weed out the negative influences that many have to offer and to allow myself to be open to the positive influence of those who deposit thoughts and motives that I value and want to shine through in my life.  

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