This past fall season we said our long slow goodbyes to our mother Shirley. She was the last cog of the family wheel that connected us siblings together. When the story of my life was written by God, I didn't imagine myself grieving the loss of my mother and the loss of my oldest sister 4 years earlier to leukemia so close together. We were siblings of a count of five, but here we were as a clan of four stinging from the loss of one sister and honoring our mother at a graveside. The loss was huge to me. I truly wasn't prepared for the compounded grief even though I saw it coming.
Here I am months later and I can honestly say healing can and has washed over me in wonderful unexpected ways. OK, So, I've been thinking about my siblings quite a bit these days. I recently saw all of them at my mother's funeral on those chilly days in late October. I felt moved and I did tell them, (but I didn't think anyone was listening to the #4 little sister) that now that mom was gone we would need to become more intentional about spending time with one another and communicating better. I am the lone black sheep of the family living in God forsaken land of crazies in California. They all live in the vast and lovely (and too cold for me) Big Sky Country of Montana. The gap and travel chasm has many miles between.
As I write I've glanced over at my calendar and I smile because my older brother Ken and his wife Paula arrive tomorrow for a visit during a trip they've planned. One week later my oldest brother Ron and wife Nancy arrive and are bringing some of my mom's belongings to me that I chose for myself after the funeral. Then 2 weeks later my youngest sister Terri and my two nieces AND great nephew come for a week! So in one month I will receive a visit from allllllll my siblings! I am so thrilled beyond what you can imagine. Even if they just came for dinner and drove off that night I would still have felt like the King of England had just stopped by for tea.
Now back to the part where I said I'd been thinking about my siblings. I had a memory this past week as my friend Denise taught a women's bible study and she recalled a story about sharing a bed with her sister growing up. She as the younger one wanted her sister to just "talk" to her at night. I suddenly remembered sharing a room with my older sister Cheryl and some of our "sister antics" flooded back to me. She always got the top bunk. Think BIG sister and pecking order for the top bunk rules. So, I never got the top bunk as a little sister. Nightly I laid in the lower bunk below and would push my feet up on the springs and bounce her on her mattress. That turned into a giggle fest or she grew weary and got mad at me, or my legs got tired but most often our dad came in to scold and tell us to knock it off and go to sleep. Those memories triggered something I'd forgotten. I remember we talked a lot. Well, maybe it was me doing most of the talking back then, but I recalled the sister dialogue that took place between the bunks. Conversations that grew us up together. What stayed with me all these years is that she listened to me. I recall a sense of love and belonging because she did. It was a familiar and strong emotion then and I felt it again as my siblings have made their plans to visit me this month.They listened to the words I communicated from my heart AND they really must love me!? How incredibly blessed am I!?
Each one of these brothers and sisters made a unique impression on my life. My oldest brother Ron defined his moment in my life in the early 70's when our father Gene left for several months as he checked into a rehab center for alcoholism. My father left my oldest brother Ron in charge as man of the house during his absence. Ron took it very serious. He also ran the household while our mother worked full time. I recall eating A LOT of spaghetti since that was all he really knew how to cook. Bless his heart.
Older brother Ken is most famous for rescuing me from bully boys on the playground when I was in first grade and he was in fifth grade. My hero. I won't forget him helping lace and tie my ice skates as a little girl and then "allowing" me to play hockey for a few minutes with his buddies on the far end of Gibson pond in Great Falls, Montana. He always kind of humored me,but kept a protective eye out for me too. I knew how to duck his brotherly punches, but I wasn't quick enough to elude ice cubes down my back and constant teasing though.
My youngest sister Terri was the family favorite as she was added into the Marks clan 7 years after me. I don't ever remember having an argument with her.I loved her so deeply. Her strawberry red hair and creamy complexion was the envy of all. Her pretend friends (Dougen and Ricken) and playful personality was our family entertainment and still is to this day. Most of all, she always made me laugh. I thank God for her daily and wish we lived closer to one another. We plan to soak up some sister love time during her visit. I am blessed they are all visiting me here during our soggy rainy California winter. Hopefully they won't see my tears of joy running down my face then.💗
Brother Ken and Lorrie February 2017