By Kate Collins
For the past five years, my brother and sister and I have traveled together to Key West for a long weekend as a memorial to our mother and a way to stay close. We started this tradition shortly after Mom passed away in 2005, and have had such great times re-bonding, we’ve kept it up. This year, because of extenuating circumstances, my sister wasn’t able to go, so it was just my brother and me.
From comments I’ve received, many people are surprised we can do this and not kill each other. Many others wish they could do it with their own siblings. And then there are those who wouldn’t dream of being in close proximity for even an hour. I feel very sorry for them because they are missing out on a lot of fun and also a lot of healing.
There are things only siblings understand and share – in-family jokes, childhood trials, tribulations, heartaches, achievements – you name it. Last year, the three of us laughed so hard while dining at a restaurant that I thought we were going to be asked to leave. What was so funny? Two word mispronunciations. That was it. To an outsider, there is no way that could be so funny. But hearing my brother the minister pronounce Ginko Biloba as Gringo Balboa was enough to have us holding our sides and trying not to hoot with laughter. As you can tell, we share the same love of the absurd.
That is a memory we’ll always have and still laugh about when we get together for holidays. We have more stories like that, but I won’t bore you with them. You really had to be there.
The benefits to this kind of experience are many. We’ve learned more things about each other than would ever come out at a family gathering, where we might have five minutes to converse one on one. We’ve learned how to compromise as adults. You like cinnamon in your coffee and I like hazelnut coffee beans? We can work that out. You stay up late and I’m an early rise? We can work around that. We’ve shared hurts and apologies, too. I learned my brother had been hurt by something my sister and I said years back. He never mentioned it and we didn’t know it. Now was the time to come clean, make amends, and hug. Now that hurt is no longer there.
My hope is by sharing this with you, maybe some of you will be moved to try something similar. It wouldn’t have to be a trip. It might be a recurring dinner, or a day in the city to see a play. Hopefully, you will be so pleasantly surprised that you’ll want to make it a tradition, too.
Are you willing to try? Would your siblings be willing? Or have you already started something similar?