A Sister Story

My babies really do love each other.

My babies really do love each other.

This evening, while my wife was out running errands, and taking advantage of the rare moment of feeling like I never had a spinal fusion, I decided to take the kittens to the playground.  I can’t exactly describe it; but the evening was such a wonderful expression of God’s merciful love and joy.  We ran, we played tag, we stopped to use the potty, we ran some more, we stopped for drinks from the fountain, we laughed, we went up ladders and down slides, and then we stopped to sit on a bench and play a game.  It was an old game I learned long ago — more of a method for choosing than a game proper.  Along the lines of rock, paper, scissors (which I never truly understood anyway), the kids each put both of their hands out in front of them.  They clenched their hands into fists which they presented laterally.  As the “dealer” of this little game, it was my responsibility to begin by tapping my right fist to my chin and then following this move by tapping the top of my left fist, turning to the person to my left and tapping his right and then left fists, and continuing the sequence around back again to myself.  All the while I intoned “one potato, two potato, three potato four…”  When I got to the eighth “potato” (or “ore” because it rhymes with “four”) that person who was unlucky enough to be tapped had to remove that fist.  Play continued until only one fist remained and the person belonging to that fist was “it”.  I’m sure it’s not as complicated as I just made it sound.

“Daddy,” my daughter asked, “who taught you that potato game?”  “Well, sweetheart,” I replied, “when Daddy was a little boy, just about your brother’s age, Daddy’s older sister taught him that potato game.”  “But why did her teach it to you?” she continued.  And at that moment my daughter unwittingly opened up a box of memories and a very real opportunity for teaching about human goodness and the great gift God gave the world when he created sisters.  In the interest of dropping the quotes and narrative interjections I’ll just switch into a straightforward recounting of what I told the kids.  Basically, when I was four our family had a terrible tragedy befall us.  Our house caught fire and three of my siblings died.  That was the bad.  The good, and yes, God uses such evil to teach us good, the good manifest itself in the little signs of human decency and strengthened family bonds.  My sister who was barely in her early twenties at the time quit her job in the Big Apple to stay home and take care of me and my two sisters closest to me in age.  We were 8, 4, and a year and a half.  She did this because our mother was hospitalized for weeks with multiple broken bones.  I asked my son to imagine what it would be like at his age to have Mommy be in a hospital like that where he couldn’t see her all day for such a long time.  And yet I don’t remember feeling at all like I think I should have.  I don’t remember because I had someone who took care of me just like a mommy would.  I thought back to some of the crazy things she did in order to both maintain a sense of normalcy and acknowledge the new and very different life we now had.  It’s so important not to forget, not to bury the living with the dead.  I even found myself laughing out loud telling the kids about the fun games we’d play, like the potato game.  We’d watch TV shows together like General Hospital (so much fun for a four year-old boy but I can tell you all about the Quartermain’s) and my favorite Dark Shadows.  My daughter seemed to grasp what I meant when I told her that it was about a vampire.  “You mean like Hotel Transylvania?!”  Yes, sugar, just like that…  And the food.  Always the food.  Every afternoon, it seemed, we’d have some kind of sit-down snack like a cookie from the bakery or a brownie.  She would make us cheesesteaks.  It barely got the word out of my mouth before my kids both shouted “I love cheesesteaks!”  Coming from my baby girl I believe it.  I think my big boy was just so excited by the way I was telling the story that he almost believed he would love cheesesteaks himself.

And they love making funny faces.

And they love making funny faces.

Anyway, I was happy to have shared that story with them and even happier to have had an opportunity to bring it to the surface for me.  I don’t mean to single out just one of my sistersfor praise.  I have seven others who are all equally as wonderful.  I’m sure brothers are a blessing in their own way as well.  But when you’ve got such wonderful sisters as I do, it’s hard not to appreciate the extraordinary gift God has given you.  We ran around some more before packing up and heading to the car.  On the short drive home I caught sight of my two precious little ones in the mirror.  My daughter was trying to teach my son a new game.  I guess the cycle continues…

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3 responses to “A Sister Story

  1. Love it, wonderful post!

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. What a beautiful memory Tim. You are so right. Your sisters are the most wonderful in the world. They took over and kept our family going and somehow kept me free from worry about you. I took a long time to get better and when I finally came home I found you well taken care of and happy in the midst of your sorry.

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