Family Celebrations

What a fun afternoon, as family members gathered in Oklahoma to celebrate two birthdays and an early Mother’s Day. Surprised today, was my brother Bryan, whose actual birthday is Tuesday. He was suspicious when he arrived at his mom’s house, and found too many cars parked around it. And genuinely surprised, I think, to find his sisters, sons, mother-in-law and other family waiting for him on the back patio. He arrived kind of quietly, so we almost muffed up the shout of “Happy birthday!” 

Family Celebrations

Also surprised today was my sister Debbie, whose birthday is tomorrow. She thought she was attending a surprise party for our brother. My stepmom prepared birthday cakes for Bryan and Debbie and we all brought celebratory cards for both. 

Family Celebrations
And, because tomorrow is also Mother’s Day, we honored my stepmom, Jerri. She received her own stack of cards and loving hugs. 

Family Celebrations

It was an all out party. Steve grilled hamburgers and hotdogs and Jerri made her famous crockpot beans. Bryan’s wife Christel brought yummy hummus and I supplied organic non GMO tortilla chips and plant based dishes…potato and herb salad and colorful chopped salad. I passed on the burgers and hotdogs. And while everyone else enjoyed chocolate cake and ice cream, I had a delicious bowl of fresh chopped fruit. 

Family Celebrations
Family Celebrations
I appreciated that Jerri gathered us all together. There was much laughter and an easy flow of conversation. The four younger kids present had a big yard to run and play in and the covered patio offered protection from the sun while allowing the breeze to cool us. 

We chatted about life and summer plans, sang happy birthday, told stories and loved on each other. My family does many things well, and near the top of the list is celebrating each other. 

Family Celebrations
Family Celebrations
These are precious times, as we create joy filled memories. The hours spent together are made more poignant by the keenly felt absence of my father, who passed away seven years ago. I still hear the echo of his voice, and his infectious laughter, in this place, the house he shared with my stepmother. I know he was with us in Spirit this afternoon, celebrating Bryan and Debbie. And I know he must feel proud of his wife who walked so valiantly with him through his illness, and now lives life to the fullest, for both of them. 

Family Celebrations
As so often happens, after a fun day of being with each other, we vowed to get together again soon…for another celebration, or just because. 

Happy birthday Bryan. I love you brother and I am proud of the amazing man you have become. I look forward to many more adventures together, including a shared trip to Scotland! Let’s plan that journey soon. 

Happy birthday Debbie. I love you sister and appreciate your creativity and your compassionate heart. We have shared many adventures, with more just on the horizon. Thank you for walking with me. 

Happy Mother’s Day Jerri. I love you, my second mom, and I am grateful to have you in my life. Thank you for your gracious hospitality today and for your courageous and generous heart. 

I am so blessed with the beautiful souls that I call family.   

Family Celebrations

Surrender 137: Happy Birthday Bryan

In my family, May is a big month for birthdays, providing ample opportunities for celebrations. Today the person I’m happy to honor is my brother, Bryan. When my dad and stepmom announced they were expecting, I fervently hoped for a baby brother. I had two wonderful sisters. It was time to have a boy in the family. I held my breath, listening to my dad on the phone after the baby’s birth. The announcement came…it’s a boy! Curtis Bryan Lauderdale had arrived. 

I am 14 years older than my brother. My sisters are 12 and 8 years older than Bryan, respectively. Born into a family of girls, this boy never lacked for arms to carry him and cuddle him, or for someone to “play me toys” in his room. We doted on him, and happily so. He was adorable and good natured, then and now. 

I have never lived with my brother, except for the long lazy summers while on school break. Until I married, I spent at least a part of each summer with my dad. And even after I had children of my own, my kids and I would spend a week with Dad and my stepmom Jerri, and Bryan. Those summers were when I made up for the time we spent apart, and got to know my brother. As he grew into a young man, I had the opportunity to see his strengths.  He’s smart and funny, a great communicator, affectionate, with a bright, optimistic outlook on life. He still calls me Sister, which I love. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard him call me by my name. 

Participating in the Color Run, with son Fox. 

Looking up Bryan’s name I found this: 

Bryan, you can go to great heights and equally great depths. You can be emotional, yet solid in your opinions. You are hospitable, sentimental, often psychic, sometimes moody. You are ruled by love or the lack of it, and feel a need to be encouraged and appreciated. You are inventive, intuitive and methodical. Since your will is so strong, you can be hard to convince. You also dislike advice. You love beauty and philosophy, and you desire achievement. You have a strong need for freedom – physical, mental and spiritual.

You find the best contentment in life when you own your own home and provide well for your family and loved ones. You have a great sense of responsibility and duty. You are comforting, appreciative and affectionate.

Those words describe well the man that my brother has become. He is hospitable, which to me means more than welcoming someone into his home. He’s open, welcoming others into his presence, into his life. He’s like my dad that way. Bryan does appreciate beauty and the arts, frequenting plays, musicals, movies and the ballet with his lovely wife, Christel. He runs in races with his sons and Christel and his mom joins in often too. 

Bryan provides well for his family, in all ways. He loves his wife and enjoys being with her. They share many common interests. And he’s a great dad, fathering his sons with grace and love, leading by example, showing and receiving affection. I’m so proud of the man this baby brother has become. 

Our dad passed away six years ago, journeying down a path we could not yet follow, after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. I look at my brother now, and I see my dad in his kind brown eyes, with the spark of mischief, and in the beautiful smile. I know Dad is proud of his boy too, and rightfully so. 

I see the strong family resemblance to my son Nate as well, who looks so much like my dad and brother. When Bryan’s first born, Cade, was a toddler, he often held his arms up to my son at family gatherings, thinking Nate was his dad. I love that not only do these three men share physical characteristics, they also have the same great hearts and share a strong sense of justice and fairness. 

My dad, my brother, my son. 

I’m grateful for Bryan, and this opportunity to celebrate his life and who he is. May we journey together for years yet to come, so that I may continue to discover more and more about him. Happy birthday, Brother! I love you! 

Journey 100: National Sibling Day

sibling day youngsters

Today is National Sibling Day in the US, a day set aside to recognize and honor the relationships between sisters and brothers. The holiday was originally conceived by Claudia Evart, in memory of her brother and sister who both died early in life. In 2005 the holiday was officially introduced into the Congressional Record.

In researching this day, I discovered that 80% of people in the US have a sibling and that by the age of 11, children devote one-third of their time to their brothers and sisters. That’s more time than they spend with parents, teachers, friends or on their own. Having siblings teaches a child social skills, according to one study done on kindergarteners. The study revealed that children with siblings got along better with classmates than those without. The mix of boys and girls matters too. Boys that grow up with sisters are more sensitive and have better listening skills (You are welcome, Bryan!), while girls who grow up with brothers are less serious.

sibling day sisters

Do we look less serious here? Thanks, Bryan!

Relationships with siblings often outlast all other relationships. Our brothers and sisters are our first, and often our last, friends. We begin and end life with them. We quarrel, compete, wrestle, laugh, love, encourage and support each other. Being the eldest in my family, I was fiercely protective of my younger sisters and my baby brother. We are all adults, comfortably in middle age, and we still enjoy each other’s company, choose to spend time together, play and celebrate together. And I still feel protective of them. Throughout the day, working and teaching, spending time with a grandson and showing property, I thought about my siblings and felt gratitude for each of them.

sibling day Linda

Linda is the sibling closest to me in age, the person who made me a big sister. I can’t really remember a time where she wasn’t present in my life and still she is often my companion, doing firsts, going to movies, hanging out. As small children, I felt a huge sense of responsibility for her and became her interpreter when most adults couldn’t understand her rapid speech pattern. Linda lives life out loud and to the fullest, shares from her heart, loves children and animals. She is Gigi to her four grandchildren and to the rest of the kids in the family, and mom to two grown sons. She is fun, outgoing, loves to laugh. Linda teaches me about being true to who I am, and loving and accepting others, just as they are.

sibling day Debbie

Debbie is my younger sister, by six years. She was so adorable as a toddler and little girl, that Linda and I had to occasionally take her down a notch! She good naturedly put up with our attempts to teach her humility, when she would bat her big brown eyes and ask, “Aren’t you glad you have pretty little ol’ me?” And of course, we were. Debbie is artistic, quiet, but with a wicked sense of humor and a vast knowledge of music and movie quotes. She is Meem to her two grandsons and the other children in the family, and mom to one daughter, who shares her love of Halloween. Debbie teaches me that happiness doesn’t always show up with a smile but sometimes with a twinkle in the eye and a witty remark and a deep sense of loyalty.

sibling day Bryan

Bryan is the baby in the family, the son of my dad and stepmother. He is 14 years younger than I am. I loved him from the moment I saw him. He was a game changer, being the brother in a sibling group that had only contained sisters before his arrival. I spent many happy hours in the summer months, during my teens, playing toys with this bright, happy, inquisitive boy. Bryan was a young uncle to my children, and remarkably, my son and my brother look similar, because they both so resemble my dad….same dark hair and eyes, and same big smile. He is affectionate, fun, intelligent. He is a great dad to his two boys and his stepson. Bryan teaches me about compassion and humor and connection. He still calls me Sister, rather than using my name.

Clara Ortega says, “To the outside world, we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.” I love that, especially since my sisters and brother and I are far from childhood. I treasure the fact that these dear souls walk alongside me, knowing me in ways that few people do, willing to fight for me, protect me, encourage me, be with me. And I do the same for them. Together, they have taught me how powerful and unbreakable the bonds of love are. I am honored and blessed to be their sister. I am grateful for them. Happy Sibling Day Linda, Debbie and Bryan. I love you and I am grateful for you!

sibling day Halloween

Having fun, Halloween 2014