Arriving in Tennessee, we were greeted with lush foliage, brilliant blooms of spring fruit trees, wonderful warm temps and pollen. Tennessee doesn’t have a corner on pollen. We have enough in Minnesota to keep my allergies going through most of summer. The fact that we were also coming into my only sibling’s state, put all those thoughts on the back burner and I was sooooo ready for our visit. There’s something about touching base with family which re-energizes and reinvigorates even the snottiest and stuffed up of all of us.
It was not always this way however. My sister came into this world almost five years after I had established myself as the number one grandchild on both sides of the family. I was the chief kingpin and I was not about to let her take over my place in the hierarchy. When we were children, I was the most politically incorrect of all big sisters. I made her sit on the back of the bus. I convinced her, that when we washed dishes, all she had to do was the silverware – which included anything silver, like the caked on, food encrusted kettles and cooking utensils. I’d take care of the glasses and plates. I purposely ignored her when my friends came over and she wanted to join in. We fought constantly and even more intensely as I entered puberty. Once we both ventured out of the security of the nest, we realized how important we were to each other.
Our mother gave us the gift of laughter and that has carried us through most of life’s challenges and adventures. Through the years, I watched as she struggled to have children, while I was already raising three of them. I saw her grow into an independent woman, even in those times. Her husband started a franchise business and she worked alongside him, until one day she decided to go on strike. There she was, outside her husband’s business, with a picket sign. All my bullying must’ve made her stronger. OK, I won’t take credit for that. We both had early experiences with death as our mother’s side of the family seemed to be dropping like flies during our childhood. We learned how to weep over loss and still maintain the dignity of carrying on in adversity. Mom and dad made sure we had a spiritual base. Laughter, strength, hope and faith in God, all played an important part in our upbringing.
So, after our second ten hour driving day, it was delightful to spend time laughing, sharing old stories, having a bottomless glass of wine and making the most of the two nights and one day we had to be with my sis and her funny husband.
As time goes by, our lives have gone separate ways. Success has come to both of us – not the earthly success of wealth and fame – but the prosperity that abounds in love. Our dependence on each other as siblings will never die, even though both of our days on this planet are beginning to wane away and time is taking its toll on our bodies.
This first leg of our journey filled me with great joy and a renewed feeling of connection with the sister I was so hard on in our youth. Treasure your family, even if you don’t always agree. They are God’s gift to you and now that you’re grown up, you don’t have to be together all the time. It’s kind of like being a grandparent. It’s not necessary to be fully involved in each others’ lives, but when you’re together, you make every second count.
Stay tuned for Kathy’s Road Warrior Meltdown, coming soon.