Wasn't it just yesterday my little brother and I were playing in the yard until it got so dark we couldn't see? We spent endless summer days roaming the woods and only came home when we were hungry or thirsty. Lord help the snake or wild animal that crossed our path. We were on a mission to conquer kingdoms and catch crawdads. You don't mess with a kid on a mission.
We had the distinct privilege of having lots of older brothers and sisters. We were the original Brady bunch...a blended family of epic proportions. My brother and I were the last of the clan...the baby girl and the baby boy. It's funny. I still think of myself as the baby girl. Did I mention I'm 51? It doesn't matter. I'll always be the baby girl. I remind myself of that when I get out of bed in the morning and can't stand up straight because of the hitch in my back and the crick in my neck. It's okay. I'm the baby girl.
There are so many memories I hold in my heart and turn over like fragile pages in a well-worn scrapbook. I remember how excited we were when any of them came to see us. It was an occasion. I always felt connected to and protected by all these siblings. I was loved and spoiled. My moma used to tell me she had to dress me up in four different outfits my first Easter because I ended up with that many different dresses. I was an aunt when I was born. My sister's kids and my older brother's kids were close to my age. We grew up like cousins. It was a ready made, huge family. I considered myself blessed.
My brothers and sisters contributed so much to my life. And I am thankful for their influence and their love. I miss those who are gone. I think about the things they taught me. I think about the funny things they said and all their little quirks and personality traits that were unique to each of them.
And I'm thankful for those that are still with me. My little brother will always be the baby boy. And even though he's younger than me, he calls me "Young'in". Nobody else does that. I consider it a special term of endearment. I'm very proud of the family man and father he is.
And then there's Rachel who will be "forever young" to me even if she's about to have another birthday. She has a way of connecting with people and giving them undivided attention so that they feel like they are the only person in the room. My oldest sister used to say she had the "it" factor. That's about the best way to explain it. She has the same twinkle in her eye our daddy had. And she has music in her voice. Instruments aren't even necessary.
So, this ended up being an ode to brothers and sisters. And maybe it's an ode to getting older. It slips up on you. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the grocery store window and think "Who gave her car keys and when did she get old enough to drive?" Where have the years gone? And if they flew by this fast, I'd better hold on tight for the ones coming at me. They might be even faster. It's a crazy, roller coaster ride but I wouldn't want to miss one minute of it. And I'm so thankful for the people God gave me to love along the journey.