My late preacher Mom, Evangelist Susie Frisby, would always spread nuggets throughout our lives. Ironically, during the times she inserted her pearls of wisdom, we didn’t appreciate them nor sometimes even understand them. But, as time goes on…Mom’s words resonate more and more as inevitable truths I’m embarrassed not to have recognized early on in my young adult life.
A “truth” I’ve come to understand more deeply everyday than I did forty-some years ago is,, “You can’t pick your family.” I would look at Mom back in the day and think, “How silly…of course, you can’t pick your family. Everyone knows that!” But, I totally missed the point. Because the point that Mom was making was that some days we would WANT to pick our families…or unpick our families…however one would choose to look at it.
Once the lesson of this particular nugget had penetrated through the layers of the white mass in my brain, it triggered thoughts about how I could be a better sister. Being raised with a bunch of girls…aka “sisters” can often be a chaotic “hot mess” and not all the joys of giggles some might have others believe. Whose boyfriend got fresh with the other sister or why is my blouse missing from the closet or how does she always get her hair to do what it’s supposed to do? And…then sometimes…there is the cattiness when one sister might make a comment to another sister about another sister. Ugh…real uncool.
And…then…the nuggets of Mom began to kick in…”You can’t pick your family…and that means sisters, too! Then…Mom would take it one step further…YOU are responsible for your sister’s happiness! You must be there for her…no matter what. Admittedly, those words rang hollow for a few decades because I just couldn’t understand why I should be responsible for my sisters’ happiness…well-being…or even be expected to love them unconditionally.
But…then something happened along way…over the course of decades…it’s called “life.” I watched two sets of grandparents grow old and pass away. Then…unexpectedly…both of my parents died from brief illnesses. It wouldn’t be long before two brothers and a sister would also make the transition from life to the afterlife without the time for a proper farewell.
Ironically, even though I’ve buried tons of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances….it’s the deaths of my immediate family members that have affected me the most…irrespective of how close or estranged we were…and regardless of how old or young they were at the time of death. It was the circumstance and the trait of not being able to pick the individual…the bond called “family” that set the passing of these individuals apart from the others.
While I pride myself in being an awesome sister, the truth is…I could have been a better sister. And…I wish I had learned this lesson years ago. But, I didn’t and refuse to spend the days I have left fretting over that point. The good news is that I learned it before I left this Planet…and will spend the rest of my days being a better sister to those who are left. And…why should I have all the fun? I plan to pass this lesson on to others…compliments of my Mom!