Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sibling Assignment #141: They Really Aren't My Little Sisters Anymore

 Silver Valley Girl busted out five Sibling Assignments for the month of January, four having to do with family members and a last one addressing our hopes for 2011.  The first January assignment goes like this: 

"Recall a memory from 2010 about each of your siblings and share the memory. It can be one memory or two separate memories." 
 InlandEmpireGirl wrote sweetly about me and Silver Valley Girl here and Silver Valley Girl has not yet gone on one of her blogging flurries to write hers yet. 

In 2010, I didn't spend as much time with my sisters as I would have liked to.  We didn't find the time for any sibling outings and  I stayed in Eugene for spring break, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

But, my sisters and I did attend the Last Cousin Standing Hootenanny in Orofino.  InlandEmpireGirl and I had a terrific time together in Moscow before and after the Hootenanny and Silver Valley Girl and I both enjoyed  the 2010 Kellogg High School All-Class Reunion and I saw her perform in two presentations at the Sixth Street Melodrama.

I know that InlandEmpireGirl and I are in our fifties and have become accomplished teachers.  I know that Silver Valley Girl is nearing fifty years old and is a superb mother of three beautiful daughters, a highly respected writer, actress, singer, and grant coordinator for the GEAR-UP program in District #391.

They aren't my little sisters anymore.

I wouldn't even say that I think of my sisters as my little sisters anymore.

And, yet, I live with vivid memories of being a little boy at 14 E. Portland and InlandEmpireGirl was my little sister with whom I shared birthday parties and ate popcorn while watching Leave it to Beaver and with whom I visited Clarence and Hedve or Mary Pavelitch or, in Orofino, our aunts and uncles and Jane Erbst and the Stanleys. 

And, of course, I live with vivid memories of being a third grader when Mom announced she was pregnant with Silver Valley Girl and being a fourth grader when she learned to walk and started to talk and when I helped feed her and hold her and, as I got older, when I would fold her up as a sandwich in a mattress or blow my baritone horn over her head. 

So, this past summer, InlandEmpireGirl invited me to give a presentation to the Writing Project course she was teaching.  She was so competent, in charge, alive with the teachers she was teaching, and such a superb colleague with April.  She was, as she's done before, teaching a course at the University of Idaho; her students, all public school teachers, were earning college credits.  InlandEmpireGirl was in charge.  It didn't surprise me, but I had to shake my consciousness a bit. 

She's not my little sister anymore.

It happened again at the Hootenanny.  At some juncture in the festivities, there was Pooh, my one time baby sister, sitting with her daughters, early, mid-, and late teenagers, laughing, explaining who people were, making sure their sleeping arrangements were set, just being a great mom. 

Like InlandEmpireGirl conducting a college course, Silver Valley Girl was sure of herself, relaxed, assured, attentive, at ease, loving.

She's not my little sister anymore.

This past summer, Silver Valley Girl performed on stage at the Sixth Street Melodrama and I had to shake my consciousness a couple of times to wake myself up to the fact that this talented, mature, versatile woman on stage was once my little sister; in fact, was once my little baby sister.

Not any longer:  she's not my little sister anymore.

Intellectually, I've known for years that my sisters are both adults, we are peers, and I'm not the big brother I used to be.  Sometimes I step into the role of big brother.  InlandEmpireGirl wrote recently that I did so at my mother's 80th birthday party, staying calm when some things could have become a little whacky.

But, I wasn't leading my little sisters by the hand or being protective or acting like a big shot or assuming the responsibility of being the oldest sibling. 

I was being myself and we were being adults together, each bringing our strengths, imagination, and social graces to the party, working together as equals.

It's clear:  they aren't my little sisters anymore.

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