Thankful and Missing You
This time of year is definitely a favorite of mine. The atmosphere changes in a variety of ways…the air is cooler, the days seem shorter because it gets dark so quickly, people are more festive because of the holidays, parties and family gatherings. I’m also reminded during this time of year of the billions of people who have someone close to them that is no longer alive on the earth. I think of the soldier’s family who remembers a hero who used to ride his bike on the sidewalk every day when he was just a child in the neighborhood. I think of the children who are missing a parent or in some cases both parents and don’t have an active memory of breaking the wishbone of grandma’s turkey.
For me, I think about my brother George, and my sister Tina. Both represented such strength and presence as I grew up, not because they were saints…no just because they were MY brother and sister. Tina used me as her guinea pig as she learned to cook. She got particularly ambitious during the holidays and would try different recipes that I always ended up tasting. With a family our size, I was always curious as to why she and I were the only ones in the kitchen. It’s dawned on me since being an adult that noone else was brave enough or perhaps stupid enough to try her experimental cooking. I’m laughing as I write this because the only thing I remember tasting that had any flavor were some apple spice cakes. Some of the nastiest stuff I remember having in my mouth and it always provided fuel for stories and laughs with my family.
With George–he was the big brother that every kid wanted. He was good looking, strong, always managed to get his way, and tough as nails. Of course this worked in my favor when someone was dumb enough to pick on me, but it also worked against me when he decided to instigate an infamous family feud on Fridays’. See my parents would always grocery shop on Fridays’ and with seven kids at home–this was not a small chore, nor an inexpensive one. We were not rich so it took a lot to feed us and clothe us, but my parents managed to do it without us knowing how tough things really were in those days. Our only job while they were gone was to clean the house particularly our rooms and the kitchen. A job well done guaranteed candy from the bag that would be in the collection of groceries my dad would be bringing in the house. A failure in this duty would likely mean a spanking, early bed-time and worse–no candy. Enter George…the INSTIGATOR! He would find a way to convince the younger kids – me, a younger sister, and a younger brother that one of the older siblings had said or done something that would mean no candy for us. We’d fall for it and immediately want to fight whoever was standing between us and our ability to get a treat. Little did we know that George had made it up…too late–by the time we were done…no clean house, no clean rooms, which meant…no candy.
Funny, those are now some of my most memorable things to think about for both George and Tina. George passed away over 8 years ago after surviving injuries from a motorcycle wreck 20 years earlier. The wreck left him brain-damaged and confined to bed for those 20 years. Cared for relentlessly by my parents and loved ferociously by all his siblings, wife and two daughters. Tina passed away from brain cancer after a two year battle. Once again cared for relentlessly by my parents and loved ferociously by all her siblings, her children and grandchildren and she turned out to be a fabulous cook!! I’m Thankful for our time together and will be hugging my family a little bit tighter because I know every day is a gift. I find little time to waste on people who don’t appreciate what life has to offer or who lose the best of life holding grudges, playing manipulative games and simply neglecting the beauty and pain of just loving other people…flaws included.
George and Tina—I’m Thankful for You and Missing You….see you in heaven…remembering you every day….Love Always…your little brother.