Tag: siblings


Christmas and family and other deep stuff that came out…


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

…..yes, I know it’s already almost two weeks old.  That’s technically still new, right!?  I mean, if it was a baby, you’d call it new.  If it was a car, you’d certainly still call it new.  So just get over it.  I’m behind!

You should be used to that by now!

Okay, what’s going on around here.  Well, obviously I survived the holidays.  I actually had decent blood sugars all through the special foods and gigantic meals.  Diabetes: 0 – Geannie: 1!  Thank God for that!

We tried to switch things up as far as the timing and place of our various family get-togethers.  It was an attempt on my and the girls’ part to try and free up some time so that no one felt rushed from hurrying between in-laws, out-laws, and other family gatherings.  It didn’t work as planned, but it was still nice.

Corey and Melissa got to come home and we spent time with them.  We spent all of Christmas Eve with all our kids, actually!  The other purpose of moving things around was so that “just us” could have a big block of time to be together.

Here’s the thing… for my entire life, our Christmas morning was always a little rushed.  Sometimes it was a LOT rushed.  When I was little, we went to my mother’s parents, or “Mom and Dad’s” as they were always referred to by me and my sister, on Christmas Eve.  My mom had five siblings, four who had children, so all the cousins (except the 7 who lived in Texas) would be there and it was a huge, rowdy gathering.  That usually lasted until after 9 pm.  Sometimes even later than that, I suppose.

Then on Christmas Day, we were expected to be at Mamaw and Papaw’s, my father’s parents, by 10 am or so.  If we got up at 8 or 9, that meant we got very little time to even see what “Santa” had brought, let alone play with any of it.  We would have a big meal there with my three cousins who were the children of my dad’s only sibling, a brother 10 years his senior.  Obviously, there was a sizable age difference between us cousins that meant we didn’t really “play” together.  It was awkward and sort of uncomfortable many times because of all the tension and in-fighting that had been going on between my dad and my uncle since they were children.

THAT is definitely a story for another day, but let me clarify that this “in-fighting”, which is the only word I can think to use for it, was never actually seen.  It was always kept confined to verbal jabs, “innocent” jokes made over dinner and things of that nature.  You never heard any cross words exactly, but you could certainly feel the seething that everyone tried so hard to ignore.

As a mother of two boys myself, I can understand how Mamaw responded to the whole thing.  She was probably thrilled just to have everyone together under one roof but how she and my papaw could ignore so much anger and bitterness is beyond me.

Again…. all that, with the long, involved backstory, will have to wait for another post.

My point in all this is that never was there a time in my life when Christmas Day, at least the morning, wasn’t a rush to be somewhere else on time.

I hate that!

Even after my boys were born, we were still trying to do this routine PLUS the addition of two more gatherings, one for each set of their grandparents.  Christmas time was exhausting and I don’t want my kids and possible future grand babies to deal with that.

Since Tommy didn’t have any grandparents living near us, we never had to deal with adding his own traditional big family gathering…actually, they had only had Christmas with either set of his grandparents once or twice maybe, so the whole relationship was completely different.  But as my grandparents died off and there was no longer a central place to meet, we first stopped having Christmas Eve at Mom’s.  (that’s my grandmother “Mom”, not my mom-Mom)  There was plenty of tension in that side of the family too and none of the siblings, at least to my knowledge, even tried to recreate the gathering or carry on that tradition.  Each one just formed new traditions with their own immediate family–their children and grandchildren.

On my dad’s side, we continued to gather with Mamaw even after Papaw had passed away until she got too feeble to live on her own and went to the nursing home.  With the way my dad and uncle’s relationship was and the fact that we cousins really didn’t even know each other since all our lives, our main interaction was maybe twice a year if a great-uncle I didn’t know at all got a family reunion together that year.  Honestly.  I see these families that are SO CLOSE and it’s like being on another planet! I think, “Man!  I would have loved to have this sort of family!” and that’s why Tommy and I try SO HARD to make sure we have a time, especially at Christmas, when our boys can be together with their wives and us and EVERYONE just relax and enjoy ourselves.

After a few years of ugliness between my sons when they really didn’t even want to be around each other for various reasons I’ll leave un-delved… they now have a good relationship.  It’s not as close as when they were kids and were each other’s best friend, but it is SO much better than when they were not getting along.

All of it boiled down to hurt feelings and perceptions and assumptions between them.  Seriously!  It grieved my heart beyond imagination because I was seeing it become some sort of generational curse right before my eyes.  I determined that our family would break that pattern of siblings not loving each other right into adulthood.  It happened with my dad and his brother and with me and my sister, in very similar fashion.  With my boys, it was more about the differences of opinion between them, not preferential treatment of one or the other by the parents, that seemed to fuel their rift.

But like I said, the boys get along well now and even though I realize sometimes it’s a little forced for my benefit, I am thankful for it.  I would much rather have them talking, if through gritted teeth, at least trying to appear polite, than not being together at all.  Especially now that Corey has moved to Ohio…spending time with both boys (& their wives, who we consider ours now, too) is extremely important to me and their father.

WOW!  This is not at all where I intended to go with this post, y’all.  Not even close!  But it’s some important stuff and apparently, I needed to get it out.  Maybe there’s someone out there who needs to read it.  Who knows?  I believe that God has a purpose for everything… even my ramblings from time to time.

Blessings!


sisters and the way things really are…


I saw this little thing on Facebook today.  It’s one of those gooshy bits of prose about one’s love and devotion to a particular person.  This particular one was about sisters.  It went like this:

Your sister is always the first female friend you will have in your life.

Nobody will ever be able to understand your craziness like your sister and although you don’t see each other as much as you’d like, she will always remain your friend and be there for you when you need her the most.

While people will come and go in your life, your sister will be in your heart for a lifetime.

Then it goes on to say “If you have a sister you love with all your heart, share this on your wall and tag your sister.”

Whatever.

That doesn’t describe my sister or the relationship we have had for years in the least.

My sister is four years younger than me.  Most anyone who meets us though thinks she’s older.  I don’t know if it’s the cane she likes to carry (but sometimes doesn’t need or use) or the fact that she does appear to be somewhat older than me.  I’m sure her being married to a man who is 10 years older than her doesn’t help her acting older.  He’s not that much older than me, but he also acts a lot older than he is too.  He’s not all that adventurous and it’s hard to get him to participate in any gathering or games.  I wonder sometimes if he even likes to laugh although he has his moments when he’s sort of talkative and sociable.  Honestly, he’s just a very solemn dude and it’s hard for any of us to really relax around him, but we try.  He’s just a very introverted person and that makes it hard to relate to him.

So yeah, my sister and I have really nothing in common other than blood, ya know?  And I don’t know if our disconnect isn’t more due to how we were raised.  I’ve mentioned this in another post but I didn’t expound on the way things stand today.

As I said in that post, as an adult, she made one particular really bad decision that I didn’t even know about til her friend called me all distraught and wondering what to do about it.  She wondered if she should call and tell my mother.  I knew my sister wouldn’t listen to me, so I told the friend, yes, she should tell Mom.

Looking back, I admire this lady for being willing to do this.  I don’t have a friend that I’d be willing to call her mother to say, “Hey, I’m worried about what your daughter, my friend, is doing and wanted you to know.”   But she did call my mother and next thing I knew, all heck broke loose….. on me.

I got a furious, frantic call from Mom and later, Dad got on the phone and said the words that have stuck with me for all these years since…  “If you’d been a better sister, none of this would’ve happened.”  Nothing was said about it for years… I just took it and stewed on it, and it came screaming back at me repeatedly.  It so completely summed up how they treated me and my sister ever since I can remember.  She did whatever and I got the blame for it.

Yes, even as children this was true.  The older sister was blamed for the younger’s actions or inaction or complete disregard for anything.  And keep in mind here… she’s thirty-some years old at this time.  I’ve been married for 10 or so years and have a husband and two young children I’m busy being a stay-at-home mother to…and I get the entire blame for this idiot situation she got herself into?!?!

ARGH!

You see, both of us were diagnosed with chronic diseases as children.  She began having grand mal and petite mal seizures when she was about 3 years old.  I would have been 7 at that time.  In 1975, 8 months before my 8th birthday, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  After I was grown and married, then as I had children, I have often wondered, in awe really, of how my mother coped with all that.  Within a year, both her children were diagnosed with awful diseases.  I think it was maybe another year of seizures, doctors and tests before they diagnosed my sister with epilepsy.   I don’t know how Mom did it.  I’ve always said I would much rather me be the one with an illness than my boys, so I now understand the times my mother cried bitter tears telling me she wished she could take my diabetes.  *sob*  And every time she said that, in my mind was a fierce “NO!” because I would never EVER wish that on my little mother.

But I digress… (shocking, I know!  ha!)

So now here we are, both in our 40’s and living next door to each other, and we rarely see one another.  I find that really sad, but at the same time, I don’t know what to do about it.  I mean, she has over the years been really vocal about feeling like I don’t treat her like my sister or whatever.  She’s sent me letters (the last one came on my birthday… nice, right?) telling me to just “stay away” from her (as if I’m down there banging on her door or something?) since I treat my friends more like sisters than I do her.

First of all, she doesn’t treat me like a sister either.  The road goes both ways.  Second, she doesn’t know my friends let alone how I treat them.  I have much more in common with them, and so I occasionally get together with them for no particular reason.  (not very often though considering the way I have isolated myself in this more recent phase of depression)  If I would go down there to my sister’s house and sit around listening to her talk about her cats and her various medical conditions or how she is frustrated with Mom or how many medicines she’s taking now, she would think I was the best “sister” on earth.

I don’t want to do that, though.  I mean, if she needs me to come sit with her when she’s having a hard time with the seizures, I do that.  And I listen politely.  But she’s not interested in the least in hearing about my life or what interests me.  If she disagrees with whatever I try to talk about, she’s quite vocal about that.  But I don’t start telling her I think she’s lazy or sad for just allowing her medical stuff (and our mother) to turn her into an invalid.  I don’t insist that she conform to every interest and opinion I have, so why is it that unless I do so for her, I am not treating her “like a sister”??

I have tried hard not to allow my mother’s wishes, although her intentions are good, to turn me into an incapable, invalid person.  Because my mom SO wishes that her children didn’t suffer from various medical problems, she has always tried to make it so that we had to struggle as little as possible.  For the most part, that is.  And if I didn’t have the kind of man I do for a husband, one who pushes me to do more and be more and go further, I would probably not be able to get around myself today.  That’s the God’s honest truth.  She’s tried for years to get me to use a wheelchair when diabetic neuropathy gave me such severe pain in my feet that walking was a major effort.   I know she means well, but how does one not understand that anything we accomplish involves some amount of struggle and hard work.  Sure, it’s not “fair” that I have diabetes and my sister has epilepsy.  If my boys had medical issues like these??  I would try to help them all I could.. but I wouldn’t try to limit them the way my mom has done.  I like to think I would try to help them achieve anything they really wanted to do as much as possible.

I  realize that my sister’s husband isn’t that kind of person…he’s not really ambitious or competitive or one to set personal goals, therefore, he doesn’t encourage his wife in that way.  So it’s not so much that it bugs me that she won’t “try”, but it DOES bug me that she allows Mom to buy and do for her to the extreme.  My parents bought a car for me in high school.  Note that I did NOT say they bought me a car.  They bought a car for me to use.  It was NOT new nor was it “cool” and neither was it ‘mine’, but it functioned and I was happy to have it.  After I got married (right out of high school) the car stayed with them.  My hubby and I struggled and worked and saved and bought ALL our own vehicles.  My sister’s car (and yeah, the truck her husband drives too) have been purchased by my parents.  ALL her cars.  They aren’t Cadillacs or anything, but a car is not cheap no matter what kind it is.  The cars are also NOT rust buckets or antique junk heaps.  And all of them have been purchased by Mom and Dad.

Then there’s her house.  Built and mostly paid for by my parents as well.  It has a two-car garage and a blacktopped driveway.  It’s in my parents’ names because they don’t trust that the husband wouldn’t maybe divorce my sister and the house would be tied up in the legal mess.  My sister did use the retirement amount she got from working 15 years in retail, but this is a house that would probably be valued at $100,000.  It’s not a cheap home.

Lest you even wonder, my parents didn’t pay a dime for our home.  My husband did most of the work himself, actually, other than framing, drywall and such.  He wired and plumbed it himself as well as doing much of the framing.  We were given the 3/4 of an acre that it sits on, but that’s it.  My sister’s plot is, of course, larger than mine.

When I start thinking about all this stuff, it makes me so sad, so angry.  And I wonder, WHAT did I do that I’m thought so little of?  Why am I treated like some step child who is never going to measure up or be worth as much?   I just can’t understand.  I just don’t know why things are this way.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe my parents love me, but the differences made between us are unmistakable and impossible not to notice.  I don’t advertise them to people.  Only a few of my friends even know about them paying for such major items for my sister.  Frankly, it’s embarrassing to let people know how different they treat us.  It’s embarrassing to me that anyone would know that my parents seem to think so much more highly of her than they do me.

I guess maybe I think they will figure that I MUST have been a horrible child?  Or that I must somehow deserve to be treated that way… or else that they think I’m stupid for putting up with it.  I dunno, but I don’t tell people.  It embarrasses me that my parents show such preference to my sister.

And understand me, I don’t really blame her or am not mad at her because they’ve bought her all these things.  It does irk me to no end that she is so comfortable with it, and of course, as a forty-some year old woman now, it’s expected.  And it really ticks me off that my parents will make comments about how they can’t count on me to “take care of” her when they are gone and stuff like that.  I am so sick of that stuff.

I would make sure she wasn’t destitute or without food or medicine and that she got to a doctor if needed, but would I wipe her butt the way they do?  Nope.  Not on your life.  I have tried for years to get Mom to back off and let her make her own mistakes.  But she won’t hear of it.  And I… I am uncaring for even suggesting such a thing.

And so, in case anyone wondered about the situation between my sister and I, there it is.  Once in a great while, I will see her come out her back door while I’m out in the yard.  She will throw up a hand and we’ll wave at each other.  That’s about the extent of our interactions.

I realize and agree that that’s extremely sad, but again, I don’t really know what to do about it.  Sometimes it’s all I can do to keep myself going, to push myself to get out, to be active, to keep doing what it takes to keep myself halfway healthy.  I feel like I don’t have the energy left over to either push her OR to listen to her “stuff”, most of which leaves me feeling depressed and defeated.  If she could at least come half way and show a little encouragement for what I am doing, ya know?  But mostly she is disapproving, critical (“Why in the world do you push yourself that way? Why make yourself tired/sore/etc?”) so I just feel like why even try.

*sigh*

Proverbs 18:24“….there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.”

 UPDATE:  After my sister agreeing to attend an Emmaus Walk in the fall of 2015 when I offered to pay her way, she really became almost a different person.  We get along a lot better now so I am thankful that we finally have a relationship to where I don’t feel pain and avoidance when I think of her.  Thank God for His mercy!!