For many of us whether or not our siblings are our best friends, as we age many of us reconnect and build stronger relationships with our siblings. Where is the comfort? The shared childhood history, common DNA and bloodlines plus knowing your sibling(s) is the only living connection to your parents once they pass on all form a bond that can’t be duplicated by any friends. Heading into the vulnerable and sometimes challenging times that come with aging, many find it comforting that there is someone who knows you like no other. Hopefully there is mutual brotherly or sisterly love.
This article by Holly Tiret of Michigan State University refers to the hourglass effect, where typically many people are closer to their siblings when younger, then they grow apart. The relationship is rekindled and grows as siblings age. Tiret also outlines five types of adult sibling relationships.
In our family, the hourglass effect describes my relationship with my one sibling, my brother Frank. As we age and since our parents have passed away, we have become closer. Now that we live an hour away from each other, we are able to visit on a fairly regular basis (definitely more than when we were raising our families and living at a longer distance).
Frank is one of my personal heroes. I sometimes refer to him as Saint Francis. Over the years he has overcome great adversity with compassion, grace, patience and forgiveness. Can he be a bit stubborn? Yep, I know it well and so can I, lol. He says he is tight with money. Well, at least he knows himself and admits it (I can be just the opposite, lol). He is one of the most brilliantly mechanical and creative people I know. Above all, I know I can call on him at the drop of the hat for a shoulder to cry on or assistance of any kind.
We are thirteen months apart, which according to some definitions makes us ‘Irish twins’. I often thought of us as twins. Although we are opposites in some ways, we share many common traits. We even looked like fraternal twins. Reflecting back on our childhood, I can say we both were pretty active kids, running amuck through our neighbourhoods.
Our poor mother had her hands full trying to track us both, me on foot, Frank on his tricycle and eventually a two-wheeler. There are a number of stories of Frank disappearing on his bike. My mother would find him in areas that seemed impossible for him to have safely travelled. When she asked him how he managed to get down a long set of stairs or over a fence, he’d respond, “It’s easy I just threw my bike down the stairs or over the fence, then I’d walk to the bike and hop back on.” Frank didn’t know boundaries but he did know adventure! Today he doesn’t ride a bike but sails the ocean looking for new escapades.
This new story Flash Frankie was primarily inspired by my brother. I discussed the storyline with my brother before writing it. We laughed about how he managed to never be daunted by obstacles. He suggested that Frankie’s explanation for overcoming obstacles was, “It’s magic!”. Reflecting on how we are a lot alike and much like twins, I wanted to capture the gender neutrality of the children. Given that Frankie is a gender-neutral name it was appropriate. I chose Charlie, as again it can be considered a gender-neutral name. I’ve uploaded a reading of this new story and invite your feedback. One of my next projects will be attempting to illustrate the story.
I certainly feel blessed to be living close to my brother. He is a role model and one of my closest friends. Once my parents passed away we looked at each other and both acknowledged that our relationship was one that neither of us wanted to lose. Keeping that bond strong was more important than any dispute over an estate or differences of opinion. We honour and respect our different styles. As we age, we are also having fun getting to know each other again, embracing how we have changed. I’m so grateful for having such a superhero bro whose optimism propels his ‘magic’!