Brothers and Sisters

A year older than me, Ray has been a person I’ve always looked up to. Being the first child born to my young parents, he was the one that led the way, for them, and for me. Among the qualities I admire about him are his entrepreneurial skills – starting his first business in his teens called Ray’s Rubbish Removal – Wow!, his all around smarts, and his knowledge and love of music. All good, but it was his inclusiveness, that was important to me when growing up. Ray included me in what I viewed as fantastic adventures! One of my favorites was getting to tag-along when he and his friends went to South Mountain to hear some music. The headliner – Hot Tuna! The band name sounded totally unappealing, actually gross, but I didn’t care. I got the chance to go to my very first concert!  I had no business being there, but there I was in the car with him, Ricky, and Ike. He said my friends Bonnie and Kathy could come along, too. How nice was that?!  I don’t recall all the details of that afternoon, but I can still picture the crowds in sundresses and cutoff jeans, some hanging out, and some swaying to loud bluesy rock tunes. I remember the smell of stinky cigarettes and skunky beer – ugh! – the hot summer heat searing my bare arms. And more than anything, I remember feeling so grown up, so cool being at a concert with these “older” folks. I felt like I belonged, and Ray was the reason. Thanks, Ray!  It was only when I got a little older, and wiser, that I realized Ray was not just inviting me out of the goodness of his big brother heart, it may have had something to do with my cute girlfriends, too!


From my journal: November 23, 2010, E. Twickenham, England

“Ray is flying into Gatwick tomorrow!  So glad he’ll be able to visit before we move back to the states… it’ll be great to spend time together…have a short trip to Amsterdam planned…”

My sister Donna is a person I’ve been in awe of since the day she was born. A year younger, in many ways she was the big sister, not me. Outgoing, assertive, and brave describe her in our formative years. I was the introverted, quiet, and docile sister – we couldn’t have been more opposite!  Sometimes, well actually a lot of the time, it was hard being her sister, and not until I was older – a lot older – did I ever admit to myself that it was because I wished I had been more like her.  Donna was the one who was always invited to parties. She was popular. And why not? She is a great conversationalist.  She can talk to anyone about anything and always leaves the other person or people laughing. No kidding. Ask anyone who has met her at any get together…ever! While I tend to be cautious about what I say, Donna is at ease speaking her mind. And, she is, and has always been, fierce! With Donna on your side, you never have to worry about facing anything alone. She is loyal and if you are her friend, she will always have your back. I have so many memories of us as kids.  One I recall is the time I was being harassed by a boy in my 2nd grade class, Charlie S. This went on for some time…to and from school…to and from Catechism. One winter afternoon on our way to our weekly religion lesson, right there on St. Mark’s path, the teasing became unbearable. That’s when Donna sprang into action effectively telling Charlie to leave me alone. Although this encounter resulted in a torn jacket and a call from his mom to ours, he never bothered me again. Many thanks, Donna!


From my journal: October 12, 1994, Rolling Hills Estates, California

“Erin arrived just a short while ago…mom called to tell me, then Donna called herself! Donna sounded great… I’ll try my hardest to be the best aunt and godmother to Erin. I can’t wait to know Donna and Bryant as parents and meet Erin!”

When I think of my younger brother Rich, the words that come to mind are creative, sweet, and talented.  He was five years younger, so I don’t have the same kind of memories of him as I have of Ray and Donna. It may have been the age difference and that my role was more of a babysitter, than “do things with” sister. But that was okay, as Rich made it easy to care for him, as he was always smiling and laughing. Thank you, Rich! I remember the spring day in May when my mom and dad brought him home from St. Luke’s Hospital. There’s a family photo tucked into an album somewhere of this event. My parents had us sit side by side on our brown plaid couch. My mom handed Rich, swaddled in a white blanket, first to Ray, then to me, then to Donna all the while instructing us to be gentle with him…and to cradle his head! Over the years, I got to know Rich better when I was home on a school break or later on when I visited home once I moved cross country. It’s then I learned that he was a gifted carpenter like my dad, possessing a keen eye for design. I recalled him playing the drums and guitar as a kid, but I was blown away by how he honed those skills over time. And I remember him talking about his daughter, the center of his universe, and then seeing them together when I was in town. What a loving and doting father he was.


From my journal: July 4, 2002, Newbury Park, California

“Hannah is adorable!  Rich is so good with her…so patient.  Hannah lights up looking at him…enjoyed our time together at Tanglewood…can’t wait to visit again.”

Today is National Sibling Day – yay for brothers and sisters everywhere! As I get older, I hold these relationships even dearer. I guess it’s because I now understand how special it is having people in my life who truly know me, and who always accept me, no matter what. Besides my parents, these are the people I’ve known and loved the longest. We share a long history. Were there rivalries between us? Of course! Did we have disagreements, even fights? Yes! Did we hurt and disappoint each other at times? For sure. And sometimes we still do. But throughout the decades, I see how we’ve always been there together. Celebrating graduations, weddings, moves, jobs, and births. We’ve also been there together, supporting each other through illnesses, break ups, and deaths. We’ve seen each other at our very worst, but also at our very best.

Today, and every day I am grateful to have and have had them in my life. And if they had not been born into our family, I would’ve sought them out as friends. How lucky am I.

4 thoughts on “Brothers and Sisters

  1. My relationship with my sister has changed so much since we were young. I am pleased to say we’re really close now and I cannot imagine how empty my life would be without her in it. It was worth the effort to put past hurts behind us and move forward.


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