The Big Sister (Part 2)
Last week, I shared the story of my brother Chris … but my Big Sister story certainly doesn’t end there …
A few years after Mom passed away, my Dad starting dating Sharyn and she had two sons: Steve and Andrew. Funny enough, I knew Sharyn, Steve and Andrew as we all went to the same grammar school, they grew up in the same neighborhood and Sharyn and my Mom were friends through the school, quilting classes and other shared hobbies. I even did some babysitting for Steve and Andrew early on in my babysitting years (I remember that they always had great snacks … a true measure of a good babysitting gig). She and Dad started dating and the four of us kids started to hang out, have meals together and celebrate some parts of the holidays together … and we all got to know each other.
Steve was the same age as Chris and Andrew was three years younger. The thing I remember most in those dating years was that I loved going to their house, I loved that it didn’t feel lonely and sad there, I loved that Sharyn was an excellent cook and … even for a brief time ... I felt like part of a family again.
When I was nineteen, Dad and Sharyn were married and all four of us stood up for them. It was a snowy day in January. My Mom’s family even came to celebrate … as they were so happy that Dad had found someone to share the rest of his life with. I’m not sure they knew it, but that meant so much to me, I loved the way they accepted Sharyn with open arms.
By far, the best parts of that day were three-fold. I finally got the family I had been missing for five years, I got to call Sharyn ‘Mom’ going forward and I was blessed with two new brothers.
Steve was (and still is) the steadfast calm brother with an amazingly dry sense of humor. Once we were all living under the same roof (4 kids, 4 cats and a dog), Steve and I would hang out. He would listen to all my dating woes, college struggles and was a wonderful friend. I loved listening to his many work stories and partying and night clubbing tales … and I especially loved Thursday nights when we would watch Seinfeld together and spend the next week repeating all the one liners until the next episode. We went to music and comedy concerts together and had some similar tastes in music. We share the same aversion to clutter and orderliness … which I think drove our parents crazy all those years.
In our adult years, our friendship continued, we lived together for a brief time (which I loved) and he has supported me through some really dark times. I love that we can sit and laugh for hours about our crazy times together as teenagers, still recite the same Seinfeld one liners from all those years ago, talk about our future, and gardening and his love of weather. Steve (and his wife, Erin) are in the process of giving the gift of adoption to a beautiful little girl who needed their unconditional love. A gift that speaks volumes about him as a person … and as a Dad.
Andrew too has always had a wonderfully dry-witted sense of humor and I have always admired his athleticism and the way he can learn just about anything. After Mom and Dad got married, he and Chris shared a bedroom and they would play practical jokes on each other ... which we all still laugh about together today. Because we were six years apart in age, we didn’t often hang out, but I loved going to his cross country meets and cheering him on and I loved when we would hang out as a foursome. I loved listening to the stories of the three brothers playing manhunt at night in the park or the ‘adventures' he and Chris would get into.
As the years went on into adulthood, and age became a great equalizer rather than a separator, our relationship changed into a friendship. Andrew became a Dad to two wonderful children and is an amazing father. Our one-on-one time may be limited due to jobs and kids and other obligations, but I love when we can get together and talk … really talk. Andrew has 'come running' in my life on many occasions and freely shares his gifts of technology and electrical experience with me. I always know he is just a phone call away and I am so thankful for that.
Steve and Andrew were never step brothers and always my brothers … right from the very beginning. I get that some people use the word step brother (or step sister) but that never felt right to me.
For me, referring to them as step brothers felt like it devalued the relationship, drew a line in the sand somehow, and meant I could only love them so much since they weren’t true brothers. That was not the case. When I am asked about my family, my response is that I have three brothers. Yes, Steve and Andrew came into my life later … but they were brothers from the beginning.
Does being related by blood make us brother and sister?
For me, a brother is a feeling, a brother is shared memories (whether those memories span a lifetime or just a period of our lives), a brother is someone who will come running - no matter how long it’s been and how many miles separate you, a brother is one of the most beautiful gifts I have been given … and I have been truly blessed and given this gift not just once … but three times … and for this, I am forever grateful.
Thank you so much for being a part of my journey, does my story resonate with you and your experience? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
So much love,