August 25, 2010

She's not so bad, after all....

To my big sister Kari,

Names, taunting, hair pulling, scratching, screaming fits. These are just a few common characteristics of sibling relationships in their early years.

The relations between you and I were of no different a sort when we were younger, either. I, the youngest of the three Chase kids carried a sense of entitlement (unconscious at the time of course), knowing my two older sibs had been there and done it all by the time I got to doing whatever it might have been. There was an ease there, perhaps, the road before me paved by my brother and sister. Which likely made me a brat towards both of you at times when I thought I ought to get something for myself. Turn on the water works, and there you have it. Younger child perceived as being picked on by older sibs got his way a lot of the time.

And as for you, my sister, the dreaded middle child. Classic symptoms of being the centre of a sibling trio include feelings of disassociation, of being ingnored, being passed over at every opportunity. One is also acutely aware that you were the girl sandwiched between two boys. All of it amounted to you being relegated to the middle bump seat in the family station wagon, each and every road trip (in fairness, you ARE the shortest). While “being ignored” by parents usually meant that Jamie would draw the fire from dad when he started yelling rather than you, it also meant that you maybe worked a little harder in life to make yourself known to the rest of the world; be a little bit of an independent soul.

Fast forward many years, and sibling rivalries sort themselves out. We’re all friends now, and we've all found our own ways in the world. But you, asserting that independence, that originality, found yourself doing science degrees while your brothers were both in some form of journalism school. You found yourself running campus dorms while your brothers lived together on the other side of town. Never one to be satisfied to do what some other girls do, you involved yourself in sports teams, took the lead on social activities like directing theatre, and continued to refuse to eat vegetables. Whatever the circumstance, you have never been afraid to be “out there”, and you have never been worried about what others might think about your goings-on.

Your sense of family has never waivered, despite perhaps feeling like the black sheep or different from us (these, may I remind you, are your words in past, not mine). When I lost my fingers, you took on a motherly role with me, kissing me on the forehead when ever we parted. This is something we still do now, a decade later. Going back further, the teacher in you—which you are now professionally, and a damn fine one I have no doubt—helped me wade through the murky waters of a university bio mechanics course >shudder. Dr. Moyls<. This was no easy feat; I do not take well to direct peer tutoring. Yet you applied an easy hand that led my arts-minded brain through physical principles and ultimately to a B in the course. I don’t think it’s every sibling that could do that, and I still thank you to this day for it.

Back to more recent days: You, not satisfied to stay a course, moved to England to see what life might be like for you there. Family brought you back time and time again--for illnesses, weddings, funerals, births.

But ultimately, the mother country has claimed you, and it brings us to a very special day, and I’m coming to that. But first, a little more about you.

As a younger brother, I have spent most of my life looking down on you physically, but up to you for all the positives that make up who you are.

I remember, once, when you came home from a day at elementary school, with a note from some so called ‘friends’ that wrote to you to say that they didn’t want to be your friend anymore. I remember your tears, and the pain you exhibited.

I remember Jamie and I playing our boy games that we kept you out of.

I remember the times your clumsiness took hold of you in very public places.

I remember you jumping through hoops to try and be a police officer in Calgary, and how disappointed you were when they ultimately decided you were too nice to be a cop (YOU will remember the relief your family felt as this put a lid on our visions of you shooting your foot off with a service revolver).

I remember you triumphing over medical issue after medical issue... after medical issue...

But with these and other such pains in life, I remember moreso the ways in which you chose—and do choose—to rise above it all. To continue being true to yourself and taking negative experiences whenever they occur and using them to make you a stronger person. And you did it all without building up walls around you, for you are loving and kind and caring and compassionate. You have always been wise enough to look at bad things in life and say to yourself ‘this does not have to be who I am’.

And, there, over in England, you found someone who sees those things in you and does not just admire those things and appreciate them, but who loves them and wants to be with you and those characteristics for the rest of his life. Smart man.

Black sheep as you are, you are the last of the three of us sibs to be married (this is moot, I just HAD to point it out! Ha!). And today, I am so proud to be your little brother, playing witness to this beautiful, strong, intelligent, amazing sister of mine who will be swept down the aisle on the arm of her big brother. perhaps keep the other arm out for dad, too, as you know he will be there, and he will also be so proud.

Marriage is not necessarily something that says ‘I am complete now.’ You are complete with or without your partner. Rather, it is a recognition by someone else of just how complete you are. You have always been complete, Kari, whether I as a brother have ever had the guts to say it or not. And I’m so happy for you that Matt recognizes it, and that this week you become partners for life. that is so SO cool.

You’re the best sister a little brother could want. Congratulations to you on your wedding day.

All my love,
Your little brother Stu