When you reach a Great Age, it is a fact of life that there are fewer and fewer people who have known you for the whole of your life. Hence, the Importance of Siblings.
I was reflecting on this as I travelled (yes, indeed, I was “in training” once again) to visit my older brother who is currently Proper Poorly. I think I rather fancied myself bringing succour to the sick through
my soothing presence, rather like a modern day Florence Nightingale. Albeit without the lamp.
I didn’t rely completely on the force of my character and charisma
(such as they are) to make my poor brother feel better - I also invested in a couple of cartons of chicken and chunky vegetable soup and some rolls. Everyone says, don’t they, that chicken soup is good for the soul? So presumably it’s not too bad
for the body either.
The Really Rather Wonderful Rosalie, who was looking after Mr B in my absence, turned up half an hour earlier than expected which sent me
into a bit of a tizzy because I wasn’t completely ready. “The top o’ the morning to ye!” she carolled as she entered the house to which Mr B responded in the time-honoured fashion: “...and the rest of the bloody day!” You
can tell, can’t you, that these two get along like a house on fire?
I became even tizzier (is there even such a word or did I just make it up?) when I arrived
at the ticket office of the railway station only to realise that my Senior Card ran out two days earlier. I was sure, I told the guy behind the counter, that I usually receive a email warning me when my card is about to expire. He managed to look reasonably
sympathetic as he charged me full price for my journey.
At the end of an uneventful two hours on the train I had the pleasure of being met by my own personal taxi
driver in the shape of my great nephew, Ben, whom I haven’t seen since he was a littl’un. We did, however, have absolutely no trouble at all recognising each other, thanks to Facebook. Give it its due, Facebook has its merits for keeping families
in touch across the miles - and the years.
Then, I arrived to a lovely welcome from my brother and his wife and soon I was ensconced in their comfy lounge which
was adorned with a mixture of Get Well cards, birthday cards and anniversary cards. You know what I am going to say - why have one call on the manufacturers of greetings cards when you could have three? As nobody ever said...
My brothers’ daughters had suggested that maybe I should do most of the talking so that their father could simply rest and listen - well, I did my best, while recognising that it isn’t
a good idea to make a poorly patient laugh too much. Especially over the chicken soup.
After lunch it was time for the hospital trip, so we all piled into the
car and my Personal Taxi Driver dropped me off at the railway station on the way. I promised to come again when the Poorly One was feeling a bit better and able to laugh at my feeble jokes.
All of which goes a little way, I hope, to explain why I have been pondering on the Importance of Siblings. Apart from an elderly aunt, there are only two people - my two brothers - who have known me all my life, from babe in arms,
to schoolgirl, to wife and mother and now to one of a Great Age. My Little Sister has known me since I was three and a half, which is almost all of my life, particularly as I don’t think I did anything especially interesting or mind-blowingly important
in my first few years. At least, nothing I can remember anyway, my very first memory being the day she was born.
But, ah, my Big Brother simply isn’t used
to being poorly - he’s always been the strong one, the dependable one, so very much the Oldest of the Tribe who has always taken his responsibilities as the eldest so very seriously and has never, ever, let any of us, his younger siblings, down.
How glad I was I could be there for him yesterday, even for a little while - just as he has always been there for me...