Sunday, September 25, 2016

Why I Appreciate My Siblings

If you recall, we have a formerly-stray cat who was named Herbie Ferbie before anyone had a chance to do a personal inspection, and then he had five kittens which cleared that question up real fast.

One of the kittens is white.

I looked outside one day and watched Herbie nursing the white kitty and suddenly a curtain was pulled aside, the mists parted, and I clearly recalled my grandma Miller quoting a poem she'd learned in school, which means that this was coming to me from some 120 years ago, from Mommi's memory and mine.

I could just about hear Mommi saying it, in her cracking voice and German accent:

Kitty my pretty white kitty
Why do you scamper awehh?
I have finished my work and my lessont,
And now I am ready for plehhh!

The memory was followed by an immediate urge to share it with someone, so I found my phone, took a photo of the kitty, and sent the shot and the poem to my two sisters on our WhatsApp group.

Margaret said, "Love love love!!! Hadn't thought of that for years..."

Rebecca said, "Oh my. This is stirring up some dusty attic in my brain. Love it!"

One of the biggest blessings of having siblings is being able to share memories with someone.  To pull something out of the past, share it with them, and have them not only remember it with you but share their own perspective of the event, that is just such a gift.

I've had plenty of conflicts with both siblings and technology, but once we figure out the latter, it's a great way for us 50-somethings to connect with the former, especially if we live far apart.

And there's something about passing 50 that makes you appreciate siblings in a whole new way.

I've always been intrigued with the threads and themes that weave their way through our lives.  Sometimes they're bright and visible; sometimes hidden for long stretches.  What I really like is when you realize that a more-recent thread is actually attached to one from way back then.

I've always liked the verses from Ecclesiastes about casting your bread on the waters.

Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.
Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.

The verses took on a special meaning for us when we read them during our family worship in Kenya and Amy lit up like a Christmas tree and said, "There's our sign!"  So we adopted Steven and from a family of seven became a family of eight.

But it turns out the verse was special to me long before then.

A few weeks ago, we sisters had just had a conversation, precipitated by Dad's thorough gleaning of my grapes, about how it was such a terrible sin to throw away food when we were young.

Margaret wrote:
"Never heard the mush story! Reminds me of having a warm gooey Velveeta sandwich in my lunch for our 2nd grade field trip to Lake Ripley.  There was no way I could choke it down, and I think Mike Peterka was in similar straits so we snuck off and fed some surprised but grateful ducks in a stream.  I felt SO guilty.  And never told anyone.  Imagine my horror, a few months later, when you announced one day that there is a verse, Cast thy bread upon the waters, etc. and I knew I was doomed, and this verse was a sign from God that I would forever be haunted because of my wastefulness."

It was like seeing a thread go back a lot further than I had ever realized.

And of course we had a conversation about how our lives were saturated with guilt over normal kid stuff, and it is so nice to have siblings to validate your feelings.  Husbands are wonderful but can be completely bewildered about weird emotional tangles from your childhood.  Sisters were there. You don't have to explain a thing. 

I laugh harder over messages from my siblings than just about anything else.

If you're on Facebook, you've no doubt seen the videos of this guy named Ted Yoder who plays the hammered dulcimer [don't feel bad; I had never heard of it either].  Recently his videos went viral, as these things do on Facebook, and like every other current or former Yoder in the country I thought, "Yoder?!? From Indiana?!? I'll bet he's freindschaft!!"

My brother Fred sent me a link, so I asked him.  Our text conversation:

Me: I am very intrigued with this character and his music and the Yoder angle.  Is he freindschaft?
Fred: No idea.
[8 hours later]
Fred: Ted Yoder is Abie P Mattie's sister Sadie's granddaughter Lizzie's husband.
Me: Did you make this up?
Fred: If you really think you need to ask that, let's explore our connection with Abie P.
Me: Yes help me out here.  I'm not accessing this file.
Fred: Abie P was the great grandfather of all those Benders that are step related to us through Sim Detweiler's second wife Mandy.
Me: And there are little black dots walking around on the moon.
Fred: Dorcas Dorcas Dorcas...
[A week later]
Fred: I'm sure you could have followed the genealogy thing had I thought to mention Sam and Ella who ran the Das Amishen Essen restaurant or Polly and Esther who had the fabric store.
Me: Oh of course.  And Ketty Chupp with the hot dog stand.
Fred: There you go. There you go.

I like to think that with every passing decade I get a wee bit better at sniffing out Fred's error from his truth, even though it's as cleverly disguised as ever, and he still has that magic way of making me feel foolish and guilty for NOT believing him, even via text.

I am thankful for siblings and smartphones, which isn't something I thought I would ever say about either, back when we were first learning to know each other.

Quote of the Day:
[Sunday evening]
Me: I'd be more inclined to go to singspiration if there weren't so many congregational hymns.
Emily: I'd be more inclined to go to singspiration if there were more congregational hymns between 26 and 29.
[Long confused pause]
Me: OH! Hims!!


  1. LOL! I now know how southern mountain I am because hammered dulcimers are such an everyday thing here. But, yes, my sister recently got a phone and plan to allow her to text and it is great to be able to communicate with her anytime of the day. It is amazing how that family guilt colors our worlds.

    We have many, many 'hymns' and hers in that 26 to 29 age group in our church. All single. They know each other too well and so are not interested but we need some new faces to get them married off! I see groups of them leaving after church to go out to lunch together just like siblings. Most have good jobs and their own homes so it is sad to me to see them single still. I hear that it is the same in other area churches. What to do?

  2. I have Yoder in my ancestry as well. When I meet a Yoder, I'm always curious if somehow we're related. However, where I live, there are way to many Yoder's to try and figure that out!

  3. Love this! Sibling, such dear people. I've been reading here again, wondering I left for so long. Definitely enjoy what you have to share!

  4. Especially while growing up it was sometimes dangerous to sit beside my sisters in church. The same things tend to strike us funny, and maybe nobody else thinks it's funny. LRM

  5. Siblings... So awesome!! Thanks for another great writing!