Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - April 10, 2015

Happy Sibs Day!

Today is National Siblings Day according to a small item I read in Woman's Day magazine. According to Wikipedia, 79 percent of children in the U.S. have at least one sibling.

I can't imagine what my life would have been like without older brother Dave and younger sister Gaila. Dave was almost 6 when I was born, and Gaila and I were only 16 months apart. My earliest memories revolve around them and our parents on our farm in Marion County, Kansas. We three gardened, "swam" in the cattle tank, took care of chickens, raked leaves, made snow forts, had sword fights with icicles, and celebrated holidays with grandparents and extended family.

Although Dave was older and had his own interests, he remembers us helping him with his chickens and 4-H projects.

"I remember being very proud of him and him doing his stuff - gardening, farming, his chickens, basketball, playing the trumpet, 4-H exhibits ... ," Gaila said.

When we were little, Dave teased us, but not any more than we did him. One of our "tricks" was to spy on him and whatever girlfriend he brought home to visit. When he drove into the driveway, we'd watch from his upstairs window with the lights off to see whether he would kiss her before coming inside the house. And when they did come in, we would often sit between them and harass them.

Because Gaila and I were so close in age, we did practically everything together. We played with our dolls, made houses out of a card table and boxes, pretended the brooder house was a "school" or "restaurant," rode the school bus together, commiserated about not being asked to dance at high school parties, and eventually lived in the same dorm at Kansas State University. Dave said he wished for a brother when he saw how Gaila and I were best friends growing up.

"But I loved you both to death and would have done anything for you, I know that," he said.

And that's the way we all feel. We had our disagreements growing up and even now we don't see eye to eye on everything. But we would do anything to help each other out and we enjoy each others' company. Over the years, two or three of us have traveled together with our families to Alaska, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Sweden and Bolivia. Gaila and I are planning a trip to Mount Rushmore this coming summer. In 2007, we spent a day in Disneyland, reliving memories of our childhood visits to "the happiest place on earth." Part of the fun was having daughters Mariya and Katie get such a kick out of seeing us act like kids again.

Of course, our girls have their own sibling memories. Mariya was 6 when Katie was born, and she was excited to be a big sister.

When Katie was born, she was tiny and adorable and we got along famously until she grew teeth and became mobile. One memory that stands out most to me was one evening when I was lying on my belly watching TV. She crawled over to me, sweet as can be, propped herself on my butt, and then proceeded to bend over and bite me as hard as she could on my spine - the super sensitive part that sticks out where it meets my neck. That hurt like hell, and soured our relationship for years to come. However, no one could pick on my baby sister but me. I promised to shove any bullies in their lockers should she need my assistance.

Katie remembers her big sis promising to protect her from those bullies. She also recalls times when they didn't get along.

As a kid, even though I was sometimes annoyed by her or frustrated that she could do things so much better than me, I always wanted to be like Mariya. When she didn't like pink, I didn't want to like pink either ... She had a really cool dollhouse, so I wanted to play with that really cool dollhouse - even though I was a terror, so I broke a lot of the furniture in it.

I annoyed Mariya a lot. I was too loud, too clumsy, too crazy. She didn't want me in her room because she knew I'd probably break something - not intentionally!

In Mariya's last couple of years in high school, we finally started to get along better. I don't know if it was because I had matured enough or if our interests were finally lining up, but we started to have really good times together. We got even closer once she went to college.

Now, the girls get along well and enjoy discussing feminism and pop culture, watching movies and playing phone or tablet games. Mariya said she enjoys being "super nerds" with her little sis.

"Katie is one of my best friends in the whole world and the greatest sister anyone could ask for."

Katie is glad she and Mariya are close now.

"I love my sister a lot and I'm so happy I got to grow up with her."

National Siblings Day is not an official holiday. It is the brainchild of Claudia Evart to honor the memory of her brother Alan and sister Lisette, both of whom died at early ages. April 10 was Lisette's birthday. It is hard for me to imagine losing my two siblings or to have never had even one. I'm glad I have mine.

"Happy Siblings Day!" sibs. I love you!

Left-top: l-r: Mom Edla, Gaila, Gloria, Dave and Dad Edgar; left-bottom: Gaila, Edla, Gloria and Dave; top-center: Katie held by Mariya; top-right: Katie and Mariya; bottom-right: Grandpa Robert Freeland with sons Stan, Edgar and Bob.

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