Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Growing up my family had a loose definition of what being a member of the family meant.  My Aunt Carol and Uncle Denny weren't my parent's siblings but their best friends.  My nephew called my best friend Aunt Chrystal.  Family dinners could mean five people or 50 people and everyone was considered family in some way or the other.  Trying to explain to people who was blood and who was "adopted" took more time than it was worth. There are people that to this day aren't sure who is really family and who isn't.  Though in my house it's easy.  We are all family.  I explain all of this so you understand that I am not nearly as dumb as I will come across in just a second.

I cannot remember a time when my brother and his wife weren't together.  My oldest brother is 14 years older than I am and he married his high school sweetheart when I was five.  So you can see that there would be a few years in there where they weren't dating but they were before I have really solid memories.  So in my life I have always had two older brothers and two older sisters.  I also have two sisters and a brother who died before I was born. My sister-in-law is more "real" to me than they are since I never met them.  They are photographs in a picture album and memories from my mother that she would share.  Oh and picnic lunches at their grave-sites when we were in Iowa.  Yeah, it seems creepy saying it out loud but it wasn't that bad.

In fact one of my first sets of memories of my sister Ann are from a trip to Iowa.  I think it must have been the summer before they got  married because I seem to remember Ann sharing a room with Susan and I .  But I was very young so it could have been the summer after they married, but I think it was before.  Anyway...I remember being on the playground across the street from my grandparent's house and Ann riding the teeter totter with me.  This was a big deal because none of the big kids would ride with me.  Or if they did they would leave me way up in the air while they weighted down the other side then get up and let me crash to the ground.  Playing a balance game with someone who is 3 feet shorter than you and how ever many pounds less in weight isn't that easy or fun but I still loved it. I also remember a box of saccharine pills spilling in the car and finding the little white pills for months afterward.

The next set of vivid memories is the wedding.  I was the flower girl.  I can remember my sister Susan lecturing me about not waving to people as I walked down the aisle with my flower basket.  I was very insulted and let her know I KNEW how to do it.  I can also remember that the ladies of the church had made "bouquets" out of the ribbons from Ann's shower for all of the bridesmaids to carry during the rehearsal and they forgot to make me one.  I was devastated.  Ann pulled bows out of her bouquet and gave them to me to carry.  I also am probably the only bridesmaid in history to have actually worn their dress again after the wedding.  It was worn to church, to school, to the grocery store, where ever I could convince my mother to let me wear it, I wore it! I wore my flower girl dress until it didn't fit anymore.  

A few days ago my sister Ann posted her senior picture online.  When I saw it I was reminded of something else from my childhood.  I wanted to grow up to look just like her.  I didn't really look like anyone else in my family (I thought, now I see how much I favor my mother) so why couldn't I just choose who I wanted to look like?  It's not as far fetched as you would imagine.  Jeff and Ann favored each other enough when Jeff was younger that I had friends who though Ann was the blood relation not John.  That was until they saw John and Susan together and saw how much they looked alike.  Then they were just confused. Ann is blond with blue eyes, my brother John has brown hair and blue eyes, my brother Jeff was blond (not so much anymore) with green eyes, my sister Susan was blond with blue/green eyes.  It just seemed logical to me that I could grow up to have any combination of those features.  I chose Ann's.  

Imagine my chagrin when my brown eyes wouldn't change to blue and my brown hair wouldn't turn to blond.  I had decided gosh darn it!  As I got older I of course realized why it wasn't going to happen, and discovered that no matter how much I laid out in the sun with lemon juice in my hair I was never going to get lighter than a strawberry blond and colored contacts were just freaky.  Genetics will tell.  Though the fact that I am the only brown eyed child in the bunch always made me laugh when we got to brown eye dominance in biology.  Just me and Dad in that wagon.  Of course now I am glad I have my father's eyes and glad that in a face that looks just like his father's my son looks back at me with my brown eyes.  But at the time I really wished for her blue eyes and long blond hair.

Fast forward to last week.  When Ann posted the picture I told her about how I had always wanted to grow up to look like her.  She told me that I grew up gorgeous on my own.  Which triggered another memory for me.  When we were home visiting when C was six months old I was sitting in their den with my brother and a song came on the radio, "She Don't Know She's Beautiful" and my brother teared up.  I asked him what was wrong and he said that the song just reminded him of Ann so much it made him misty every time he heard it.  It's true.  She doesn't always realize how beautiful she is.  From the inside out.  Look at those earliest memories, the teeter totter, the flowers at rehearsal, to now, telling me how pretty I am instead of realizing how beautiful she is.  So even if she isn't really my sister by blood, she is really my sister by bond.  And that's good enough for me.

Oh...and just to point out that genetic confusion runs in the family...when Ann was pregnant with Ashley we all just knew she was having a girl, just knew it.  My nephew Brian announced one day that though we all knew she was having a girl no one knew what color she would be!  :-)  

To be fair...his Aunt Chrystal that I mentioned earlier is black, so his ideas on what family meant were different as well.  Family, who do you choose to be in yours?

My sister Ann.

My senior picture, I almost got the hair right! (though her's was blonder in real life)

Edit: 11/9/11
After posting this blog my niece let me know that her mother actually has light green eyes not blue.  All of these years I have been trying for the wrong color eyes!  And just to show you how very sweet my sister is....she read the blog and didn't correct my mistake, I am sure she didn't want to make me feel bad for getting it wrong.  

No comments:

Post a Comment