Monday, August 13, 2012

The Middle Sister

Home in Grandview for a football game
I am a  middle sister.  I'm not the oldest.  I'm not the youngest.  Four years younger than Amy and five years older than Emily.  I am the middle.  Growing up I learned from my older sisters mishaps; and, I was able to influence my younger sister.  Other middles I have met complain about being the forgotten child.  There are times I guess that this could be true, but I look at more like the bridge between two destinations.  To visit either destination it makes the trip easier to have that bridge.  There are times when my sisters don't see eye to eye.  My older sister is artistic, the social one.  She is outgoing and adventurous--she enjoys taking risks.  My younger sister is disciplined and quieter.  She likes familiar things and routines.  They are very different, but they are also the same.  They are both amazing cooks.  They are extremely sentimental (I am too by the way.  I'm wring this with a lump in my throat.).  They laugh until they cry.  They love their children fiercely.  I get to be that bridge that brings the two together.  I do a pretty good job at this.  Heck, writing about that family role landed us as guests on the Oprah Show in 2002 (that's a story for another blog entry though). 

Aunt Jeanette, Gram & Aunt Betty:  Spaulding Family Reunion, Colorado 1995

A super cool thing about our family is that my dear, sweet grandmother is also from a family of three girls.  My Gram is also a middle sister.  She, like me, is sandwiched between her older, Jeanette and her younger, Betty Lou.  I've spent my life admiring the bond they share.  They can finish each other’s sentences and make each other laugh.  They each have deep faith in God and a love for family that transcends everything.  They are masters at making sense of God's plans for their lives.  They are each so very remarkable. 

This past week was the first time our family truly came face to face with the possibility of losing one of these treasures.  My Great Aunt Jeanette is recovering from a stroke.  Right now she is unable to speak.  I feel sad when I think of the conversations that may go unspoken.  But, I am focusing on the fact that my Gram and my Great Aunt Betty remain positive.  
Colorado 1995

I've been thinking over the past week about being an old lady with my sisters.  Will we walk arm and arm like I have seen my Gram do with her sisters?  Will we fill in those missing details of the family stories like they do?  We, like my Gram and her sisters, are spread apart across the country.  We FaceTime and text to ease the distance but we miss each other deeply.  There is something extraordinary about aging with someone who has known you your entire life.  My little sister is starting to get laugh lines around her mouth.  She may not be happy about this, but for me it signifies that we’ve seen each other through decades of life.  

There aren't enough words on a blog to express what my sisters mean to me.  How could I ever put into words what it means to be crying and angry with someone one minute and best friends the next?  It's like the ultimate example of true forgiveness.  No matter how much I could mess up my life they would pick me up and tell me everything is going to be OK.  It's just what we do.  

Christmas 1981
I spent years of my life attempting to create my identity separate from my sisters.  As a freshman in high school I spent that year breaking away from being “Amy’s little sister.”  I’ve probably pushed my little sister, harder than sometimes needed, to create her own identity too.   But, over this past week I have found myself profoundly grateful for both of them.  You see, I am still the middle sister; the center sister--that bridge.  But, I see it differently now.  There has to be a middle. Without it, nothing can ever truly be whole. Because it is not just the space between, but also what holds everything together.

I love you Amy and Emily.

Thank you for reading.

Hiking in the Hocking Hills