Family bonds, a Thank You to my siblings

The bonds between siblings remain throughout the years. Whether we speak often, or have long periods of time when life keeps us busy, I know my siblings are there for me – always! My siblings multiply my joys and share my burdens so they become lighter. We grew up in rural Newfoundland in a little house on a hill that looked out over the bay. As I travel back in time, I am filled with nostalgia for those happy days playing in the fields that surrounded the house or in the woods behind the “back forty”. I was one of nine children – number seven of the bunch. I am so grateful to be part of this family. The eldest took such good care of the younger members. I always felt secure knowing they stood between me and anything that threatened harm. Growing up in a large family can have its challenges, but the blessings far outweighed these. My heart is overflowing with gratitude for each and every one of my sisters and brothers. They have taught me, guided me, stood by me, and always, always loved me. And I thank God for the blessings of growing up with such caring and compassionate people. Life can wound us, but if we are fortunate enough to have a sibling that truly loves us and supports us we will find healing. So, this is my thank you to each of my brothers and sisters who enrich my life, lift me up, and support me. I am so very glad we have each other.

Sleepless night

I can’t sleep. I have learned more details about the violent results that occur when one vehicle slams into another at high speed – my brother didn’t stand a chance.  It is next to impossible to sleep with anger roaring like a wild beast in my head and in my heart. Toxicology reports document the extremely high levels of alcohol in that man’s blood when he drove his car head on into my brother’s. This whole thing is so crazy. He pleaded not guilty, of course. So each and every day until this trial is over my family is subjected to the consequences of this person’s decisions and actions; of having to hear testimony and see photographs of the aftermath. My older brother described the coldness of a courtroom with Chris referred to only as “the deceased” as if he was not a living, breathing human being before that fateful day adds salt to the wounds. Chris is more than a statistic, more than a victim of impaired driving. He was loved in life and he is loved still.

Chris’s daughter has been attending the trial and it makes me sick to my stomach that she is. She is so young. I worry about the effects this trial may have on her. His son has decided not to go, unless his sister needs him to. They are both dealing with the horror in the best way they can – in ways that feel right to each of them.  My niece feels compelled to go; to see it through. I suspect she does it to honour her Dad. My nephew feels that attending the trial will not change the fact that his father is gone and regardless of the outcome it won’t bring his Dad back. He is right.

Why do any of us subject ourselves to the pain and anguish of sitting through this criminal trial? I cannot answer that yet. I do know we all want answers and perhaps by attending the court proceedings we will. get them  This man claims to be “not guilty” despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  Had he pleaded guilty to the charges I may have felt more empathy and compassion for him, but it is hard to feel anything for him but animosity and disgust.

Tomorrow I will be travelling to Ontario to be with my siblings and all my nieces and nephews. I feel compelled to go – to lend what support I can to all of them, but especially to Chris’s children.  I am apprehensive about what to expect when I finally join them in that courtroom, and so, if you are a person of prayer I ask that you pray for me and for all my family. I like to try to find something positive in every experience, but I must admit I am hard pressed to find the silver lining in this particular cloud. Perhaps one day, in hindsight, I will .

The Trial – day 2

I find myself reminiscing a lot – about my childhood and about my parents and siblings. Today was day 2 of the trial and again I am not there. I live in another province and between work and family obligations I am unable to be there at this horrid time. I had a nice chat with one of my brothers though, hence the reminiscing. I had five brothers and three sisters. Chris was the youngest. He was killed when an impaired driver plowed into him as he was heading home from work. Sorry if this is repetitious, but I don’t know who may be reading this. At any rate, my brother brought me up to speed on the happenings of the day. By all accounts it was rough for my niece (Christopher’s daughter, though she has been a real “little soldier”) and for all the family that was in attendance.

I am doing my best not to dwell on that though and instead I am sitting here with happier memories – like all nine of us children doing “the  twist” in the living room as old-time 50s rock blared from the radio (at least I think it was a radio). Dad hated that “new fangled music” so while he and Mom were gone shopping my elder siblings let it rip. That is one of my favourite memories – the older siblings teaching us younger ones how to dance.  Or the time we were all playing baseball up in the “back forty” of our property.  Chris was so little, but very determined. He played his heart out, his little legs pumping furiously as he ran for home plate. He was the baby of the family and the apple of all our eyes. It was impossible to stay angry with him for long because he had such a sunny and generous nature. I am trying my best to honour him by remembering the good times and all the best facets of his character – of which there are many.

Fair warning, if you are following this blog it will be filled with anecdotes about my younger brother. I am so glad to have had him. I will honor him. I will honor his memory today and every day. Despite the heartache of his passing Chris continues to bless us all by bringing us closer together once again – I just wish he hadn’t had to die to do so!

Life is a gift

I am awake in the very early hours between dark and light. My head is spinning with ideas and memories and golden moments drenched in love. I have been so very blessed to grow up in the bosom of a large, noisy, hectic, and loving family. I think of all the gifts my parents, sisters, and brothers have given me and the precious web of connections that flow out from there. Relationships that have helped develop our character as individuals and defined us as people.

Once again my thoughts turn to Chris…baby of the family and darling of our eyes. Well, most of the time anyway. He and I are close enough in age to have had a healthy sibling rivalry. Still, I am one of four of his “big sisters”. It had to have been frustrating sometimes having so many people bossing you around. Yet Chris took it all with good humour, for the most part. Now, I do not want to present my brother as some sort of goody two-shoes or angelic super human – he wasn’t. He had his faults as we all do. He could be frightfully stubborn, impatient, even self absorbed. Growing up he was coddled in some ways and spoiled by all of us to varying degrees – as I’ve said we were close enough in age to be playmates and often antagonists as well.

Perhaps we treasured Chris more deeply because of the many times we nearly lost him. He was what was termed a “blue baby” at birth and had to be given many blood transfusions and remained a very sickly child for many years. We learned early on that life is fragile. Later, when he was still little, as I have already written about, he could have been killed when he fell out of the car before Dad brought it to a full stop. As a teenager he gave us a scare when he developed meningitis and later still another car accident when he rolled his small vehicle. Looking back it’s almost like there was a foreshadowing of things to come – so many close calls where Chris seemed to stand at death’s door.

Chris faced many challenges throughout his life, but the one that marked him most deeply, I think, was the death of his infant daughter. I have no idea how difficult that must have been to endure or the strength it must have taken to get through it. But Chris took this tragic experience and used it to try to help other parents who were going through similar circumstances. He had a real gift with people.

Later he and his wife would go on to have two more children. Sadly the marriage failed and Chris would face the challenges of raising his children in a two-house situation. I am sure it was very hard for him and hard for his children as well. I hope they know how proud he was of them and how deeply he loved them, even if he showed it imperfectly at times.

In my previous post I described his funeral and the vast numbers of people who came to lend support to his family and to pay their last respects to a man well loved and held in high regard.

Chris was just a regular guy doing his level best with whatever life dealt him. He left behind a legacy of love and an example of selflessness and service to others. I am proud to call him my brother and blessed to have received his love and friendship. Life is a gift and I thank God for Christopher’s.

Sharing memories of my brother, Chris – part 3


Adaptable, friendly, and congenial – that’s my brother. He was about 8 years old when our parents decided to move our family from Newfoundland to Ontario. Personally I struggled with our new home and suffered home sickness for what seemed like forever. But Chris was always easy-going and made friends easily. Yet, we continued to spend a good bit of time together, he and I and our sister, Lorna. We were the three youngest known as “the three little ones” to our parents and the rest of our family. We were a unit, which makes losing him feel like I have lost a part of myself. Like a three-legged stool with one leg suddenly snapped off, I am off balance.  But I digress.

The three of us competed constantly with one another and one of our favourite competitions was racing one another, whether down the road or over empty fields and Chris was quick, very quick. It was a real challenge to beat him in a race.  Chris pushed me to my limit, and in more ways than just running.  While I would crow over beating him, Chris was a much more gracious winner, allowing me to “save face” time after time. I wish I could have been so gracious – I wasn’t! In many ways Chris taught me patience and kindness. He was also the impetus that helped me to push my limits, to face life’s challenges…and he continues to do so today.

Gathering memories

Gathering memories in my mind

Some were stored for so very long

I take them out and gently wipe the cobwebs off

I hold them tenderly, and polish them with love

For memories are all I have

Since you are gone

Riches untarnished by time

Moments glistening with tears or bright with laughter

Bygone days where once we gathered

Lives shared and sacred

Siblings we

Shared and fought

And loved one another

And so we shall

When divinity brings us

Together again