Siblings. Most of us have a few. Back in the day, in particular during our grandparents' and great grandparents' generations, it was routine to have large families. The result was many siblings.
The stay-at-home mom was in vogue then. The world has changed since then, as recent U.S. Census figures indicate an average family has 2.63 persons.
For some of us, it is difficult to stay connected with siblings, in particular if we are separated by many miles. If parents have passed, siblings carry on in their day-to-day lives with their own families. Soon many years have passed.
Recently I felt a call, a sense, a need to go see my big sister. It was time. I got in my truck and headed out to central Wisconsin.
There were five of us in our family. My sister was born in 1942 and she is the one member of the "Silent Generation." Three of us are boomers and the youngest is Generation X. As siblings, we were quite spread out.
Across two eras
My big sister is a warrior, a survivor, a rock star in my eyes. We have always had a close bond. She has told me that she feels like she has lived in two time periods.
Early in our lives, we lived in an old home that used to be a stagecoach stop on the Santa Fe Trail. My sister always felt the spiritual presence of those who had come to that place years ago — Native Americans and white families. She still recalls the view of the depressions that were left in the land by the wagon wheels in the 1800s.
She attended one-room school houses as a young girl in Kansas, but would graduate in a brand-new modern school building in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1960. Growing up in homes with no running water, she would take a bath once a week with heated buckets of water. Now she always appreciates the modern conveniences she enjoys, such as unlimited hot water.
She remembers tiny, sparse hand-cut Christmas trees that were put up in our home. Now she has an artificial tree with lights that she can unpack and put up every Christmas season. She rooted for the good guy on a trusty horse — in her day it was Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger.
My older brother, born in ’46, recalls that our big sister was full of life and adventure. She was smart, courageous and up to any challenge. He remembers one time she stood up to some kids who were bullying him.
I remember a number of years ago my sister Patty told me that when I was a baby, I was a ray of sunshine in her life. She felt I was something special to love and I would love her in return.
She started college after high school, but dropped out to come home and help support our mom and her siblings during a difficult time. She never returned to college.
My sister fell for a Kansas farm boy in 1963. Soon they had two boys and her family has been the main focus in her life. She continues to love and support her boys and their families in whatever ways she can.
My big sister and her husband have been married for 55 years. Actually, they are not quite sure how long they have been married, but right around that number.
Good memories, and bad
It was a road trip that I will always be glad I took. We talked and reminisced. Like most families, not all the memories brought smiles, although some did.
Earlier in this column I said my big sister was a survivor and a warrior. To be more specific, she has survived sexual abuse and sexual harassment. Her generation had no one to turn too. She has survived two bouts of cancer along with many other medical issues. Currently with her health she has good days and bad days.
I have always looked up to her. She looks back on her life and is proud that she stayed the course, remained positive and she is proud of her two sons. She told me they are good boys, and I agree.
I love her and will never forget her kindness to me. She was my protector. I’ve admired her remarkable strength to carry on in life, no matter what the obstacles.
If you have a sibling that you have lost your connection with — pick up the phone. Make a road trip. Tell them you love them. Life is short.