How would you describe your siblings? Your description of any brother or sister is likely to range from the closest friend you’ve ever had to a royal pain in the tush. Interestingly, when many of us think of family history, we think of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles before we ever consider brothers and sisters.
Consider this statement in a U.S. News and World Report article by Erica Goode: “Sibling relationships – about 80 percent of Americans have at least one – outlast marriages, survive the death of parents, and can resurface after quarrels that would sink any normal friendship. They flourish in a thousand incarnations of closeness and distance, worth, loyalty and distrust.”
Or this, from Mark Victor Hansen and Barbara Nichols in their book, “Out of the Blue:” “No one on the planet knows how to find and push your emotional buttons as easily as your sibling – whether it be to encourage, challenge, or cause you heartache.”
Though long-lasting, sibling relationships are difficult to maintain in our far-flung modern society. Until the age of 16, I shared a single bedroom with my two younger brothers. It was a small room and likely would have held a fourth brother, who died before graduating from a crib in my parents’ bedroom. Even with a bunk bed, space was tight. There are no secrets from brothers in a setting like that.
As adults, my brothers have remained in the area where we grew up while I’ve lived elsewhere, in Texas, Illinois, California and in my present location, just 125 miles from where I was raised. For the better part of the past 40 years we’ve been physically separated, raising families and doing those things responsible adults do. In recent years, though, we’ve managed to get together 3-4 times a year. It’s amazing how easily three mature adults can be transported to that tiny bedroom of our youth, given a comfortable family setting.
My wife and I are blessed that our three kids remain close, despite careers that have taken them to California, England and Iowa. They even got together to climb a mountain together a couple of years ago.
So, when you’re taking stock of your life so far, don’t forget your siblings. Their influence often runs so deep that we take them for granted.
Photo: Meghan, Aaron and Bret Lehmer by lwlehmer.