Ann and Siblings
Ann and Siblings

Statistically the longest life time relationships for each of us will not be our spouse, parents or children but rather our brothers and sisters. Yes, the ones we swore we'd never talk to again when we were growing up and then missed like crazy when we left our childhood homes.

Most adult children outlive their parents by at least thirty years and we've already lived twenty to forty years before we had children. The trend for boomers is we'll be married not just twice but three times during our lives. And friendships often come and go, dependent on the ever changing circumstances of our lives. Thus, the relationships with the most longevity are our brothers and sisters.

 Whose voice do you recognize immediately when you answer the phone, even if you've not talked to the caller for several years? Of course, it has to be your sibling. Sadly, in too many families it's a seldom appreciated bond that's a taken for granted relationship…until it's too late.

Many families find themselves scattered throughout the country and sometimes the world with each member immersed with the details of their own lives for the first forty or fifty years. Sometimes the only sibling reunion is the funeral of a parent. The final good-bye is an emotionally charged period and not an ideal time for siblings to reconnect since each one is dealing with a deep sense of loss and grief. Even after long debilitating illnesses when parents die, regardless of the adult child's age, feelings of abandonment and regret are common.

Then there's the baggage that can cause rifts in families. Most baggage can be attributed to lack of communication or misunderstandings. If we walk a mile in our sibling's shoes then we might better understand why they do what they do. It's a mistake when the spouses of siblings try to set the tone of brother /sister relationships. Spouses are very important, that's why we call them significant others but they came on the scene after already existing sibling relationships.

I was in born in 1947, the first born of seven children, three girls followed by four boys. Our lives took us in many different directions, personally, as well as geographically. We ended up living in four different states. One brother is retired after 20 years in the USMC, another brother is a Human Resource Mgr., working on his MBA, and the oldest brother is a long distance truck driver. One sister is a retired secretary, another is a Nurse Practitioner and I'm an RN/writer.

On March ninth, 2007 we all met for the week end on neutral turf, the Inner Harbor at Baltimore. Two sisters drove from Pennsylvania, two brothers flew from Texas and one brother drove from North Carolina. One sister lived nearby and had set up dinner and hotel reservations. We had reserved a girl's room and a boy's room, (reminiscent of our childhood!), at a very nice hotel, a bit pricey but reasonable when we split the cost six ways.

One brother, Bobby, died thirty seven years ago in a motorcycle accident. He's immortalized in our minds as a dazzling fifteen year old …while we've all grown older and gray.

At dinner the first night I asked, "Do any of you ever think about Bobby?"

There was an awkward silence and then one by one, they answered, several through teary eyes. "Everyday…"

Everyone had Bobby memories to share. It was obvious he'd been elevated to an iconic status among his siblings who still missed him terribly even after all these years. We agreed he was the smartest, best looking, best personality and best athlete of us all.

We looked around the table at each other and our baggage disintegrated as we laughed and cried together. We felt a rare connection and love in each others company that is almost outside the realm of rational explanation.

Though our parents have been married for more than sixty years, three of us have been divorced. Between us we have fifteen children and six stepchildren, as well as fifteen grandchildren and four step-grandchildren. It's safe to say we're a large family. Maybe that's why our sibling week end worked so well for us, because we only had each other to deal with. No distractions of spouses or any of our extended families.

One brother had prepared a Childhood Memory Trivia Game that our youngest brother failed miserably since by virtue of birth order, he did not share the same childhood memories as the oldest five. It was great fun and a real stimulator of long forgotten memories and more laughter. Everyone received a prize of two Texas Lottery tickets for participating. And not one winner among the dozen tickets! Although, just being together made us all feel like winners that week end.