The 11th Edition of Smile for the Camera is “Brothers and Sisters”. “Were they battling brothers, shy little sisters, or was it brother & sister against the world?”
Mom (Mary), Glen and Genevieve
My mom was the third child born to Glen and Vesta (Wilt) Johnson. Glen Jr. was the oldest, born in 1917, and Genevieve born in 1920. The siblings had a baby sister born very premature in 1927 and who died at 6 weeks. Mom always felt that her parents considered her brother the “golden boy” of the family and that he could do no wrong. He was, after all, the oldest child and only son. Mom and Aunt Genevieve were battling sisters. One story I’ve heard is that when Mom had to wash the dishes, Aunt Genevieve would dry them but put them back in the “mix” to be washed. When the two sisters got into it, my grandmother would sit them in chairs back to back and tell them they couldn’t touch each other or talk to each other. And they they all got older, married, and had their own families.
Mom, John & Genevieve, Glen & Mary
This was probably one of the last photos taken of the siblings together before my Aunt Genevieve passed away in 1958. My parents had been stationed in Japan since 1957 so Mom hadn’t seen her sister in at least a year. As adults, the siblings visited each other for holidays and spent quite a bit of time together. My mom and her brother grew very close especially after my grandparents passed away in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, Mom lost her brother in June 2001 – just two months before she lost her only son.
My sister, me, my brother
As the youngest of a family of three children, I felt more like an “only” child since my siblings were older than me. My brother had been married 9 months by the time I was born and my sister was in high school. A few years later she would be married and go on to have two children – who were more like siblings to me than my nephew and niece. How I envied my brother and sister! They had been able to live in Japan – not once, but twice! They had gotten to grow up with our first cousins! They had gotten to learn how to fly a plane! What I didn’t learn until much later was how they envied me. I got to live in the same house growing up, go to the same school, keep the friends I made and of course – have a swimming pool in the backyard! My brother became the male figure in my life after my parents’ marriage ended. How I did not like my brother telling me what to do! My sister tried to be a sister but it was awful hard splitting loyalties between a young sister and her own two children. She tried to mother me when I was an older teen but even that was difficult for her to do. She wasn’t sure if she should be a sister, mother, friend or what. We had many rocky moments in my early adulthood. Even though we worked in the same area of the same building for the same company, it was very rare that we actually were “friends”. It wasn’t until my first marriage ended that I realized what a treasure I had in my siblings. Unfortunately my brother was several hundred miles away but my sister was still close. We became much closer than we ever had. Then she moved out of state – just when we’d “found” each other again and settled into a friendship. Luckily as technology grew and we both became email “junkies” – there was hardly a day that didn’t go by that we didn’t email each other. When she moved back to the area in the mid-90s, I’d spend hours sitting with her at her table just talking about everything and nothing. We learned so much about each other that we hadn’t known before. Once again she moved away but we remained close through email and ocassional phone calls. The day she showed up at my house in March 2005 and told me they were moving back to North Texas, I think I cried continuously – out of joy – for days. Even now it brings tears to my eyes. I’m so lucky to have been blessed with such a beautiful, inspiring, and unique sister – who also happens to be my best friend.
my brother – Jim
This was one of the last pictures I took of my brother – Thanksgiving 1998 – at our dad’s house. Jim had moved away from our “hometown” area over a year before so he was even further away. It was wonderful for both of us to share a holiday together with our dad. Little did I realize that this would be one of the last times I saw Jim. As I became older, he and I settled into a comfortable sibling relationship. He was always one of the first ones to call me on my birthday. Always quick with a joke or one of his “tricks”. I could count on him to make me smile or laugh. There was no laughing in August 2001 as he was deathly ill with pancreatic cancer. There would be no more birthday phone calls, no more jokes, no more “tricks”, no more hearing him call me “sis”. Now my sister and I have taken that mantle. I don’t think we ever called each other “Sis” until after our brother departed this life. I think that is our tribute to him and our hope that someday we can hear him call us that again.
My four kids were pretty close in age. The oldest girls were 23 months apart, the next two were 19 months apart and then the last two were a little less than 5 years apart. Traveling was always an adventure – especially after the youngest no longer needed to be in a car seat. I had to be very careful who sat with whom and where the dog would end up as well! The youngest and 2nd youngest shared a room and due to their ages being almost 7 years apart, they grew close. However, they had their fair share of disputes. They were like the Odd Couple – one meticulous – the other not! The older three would play games together leaving the youngest one out. They would all yell “He/She is touching/looking at me!” Then they grew up.
And became FRIENDS! After a rocky start at young adulthood and their relationships with one another, I start smiling when I think of the brother finding out what a great oldest sister he had or the youngest and oldest sharing confidences or the fact that they call and email each other more than they do me! I remember the day a long time ago I told them that someday they would be friends and the looks they all gave me!
Three generations of “battling siblings” all turned into relationships of Best Friends Forever. What a wonderful family legacy that is!