Tag Archives: Brothers and Sisters

Brothers and Sisters Must Stick Together

19 Jan

“Brothers and sisters must stick together,” my parents would continually make this statement to my brother, sister and me throughout our childhood.  If we had a disagreement, they would intone this mantra. It was used in many ways.

If a friend of my brother’s bugged me, he would stop it. But then he would bug me.  Brothers protect sisters from others, but that does not mean he could not tease me. His interpretation of this saying.

Over the years my sibling and I have come together many times to help each other.  And this sentiment fills my mind and my soul. We will always stick together.  We repeated it many times when our parents passed away within nine months of each other.

As we cleaned and divided their homes, my brother would say, “Nothing is worth fighting over.”  And we knew that “Brothers and Sisters must stick together.”  It helped to hear these words from my parents. It was an emotional time, and sometimes we needed this reminder.

But I have to say my parents and their siblings took this to the zenith degree.  My Dad and his sister passed away within days of each other. It shocked us, as we sat shiva for both.   My Dad called my Aunt almost every day after my Mom passed, but even before they spoke often. And each winter spent months together in Florida. At the time I remember thinking that they could not survive without each other as they were so close. So although I was shocked when it happened,  I was not really surprised.  Brothers and sisters must stick together.

But this week it really amazed me.  To be honest my Mom and her brother had a separation.  They did not speak to each other the last years of my mother’s life. This broke her heart. Although she often spoke of her brother, Mom passed away before the rift was ended. Her mantra of “Brothers and Sisters must stick together,” did not help in this instance.  But my cousin, who I always kept close with, came to see her. And that help to ease her.

In the past six years the family has healed.  My siblings and I have visited with my Uncle. We see our cousins.  We help in times of need.  Brothers and sisters sticking together. The family has reunited. 

Yesterday my Uncle passed away.  He had been ill for a while, but this week he went into hospice. I spoke to my cousins multiple times during the week.  And texted in between.  I love her and I knew this was so difficult.  And then he slowly slipped away, just days before his 90th birthday. When I got the call I was not surprised. But a few minutes later it hit me, this day was my Mom’s yahrzeit, the religious anniversary of her death.

I texted my cousin: her response was perfect, “Maybe now they will make peace.”

But to me it was a sign. To my siblings I texted, “Brothers and sisters must stick together.”


I Am And Always Will Be A Jersey Girl

17 Aug

Lately I have seen lots of little ‘funny’ lists on what makes a woman a Jersey Girl. Some are funny, and some I find somewhat insulting. I hated the television show, “Jersey Shore,” because it showed people from NY/Long Island on the Shore. And people assumed that is what Jersey Girls were like. And it is so NOT true.

So here is my Jersey Girl/Woman list. It is not in any priority order because all of these are Number One to a Jersey Girl!

First Jersey Girls stand up for what is right and for other women. An example from my life:

My niece, who is now in her 30s, played baseball when she was in middle and high school. As the only girl with four brothers, including a twin brother, she never played softball. Instead she was one of the catchers on the elite team that her twin and next older brother played on. She was strong and she was fearless. Even though she was from St. Louis, she had some of the markings of a true Jersey Girl.

One year her team played in a regional competition in Kansas near where I live. I took my daughter to see the team play as much as possible that weekend. But the first game that was played stands out and remains a family legend. My niece was one of only two or three girls playing during that tournament. There were hundreds of teenage boys.

The first time my niece went up to bat, she was hit by a ball thrown by the pitcher. Of course she got to walk. But I was mildly annoyed. The pitcher did not hit any of the preceding batters. The innings went on. And eventually my niece was in the line up to bat again. And yes, she was once again hit by a ball. The only batter to be hit… and twice. I was sitting right behind the catcher. I could see the eyes of the pitcher. I knew he did it on purpose. I was furious!

None of the men said anything. Not the coaches, not the umpire, none of the other players. I stood. I walked to fence behind the catcher right at the field. And I yelled to the pitcher and to the coaches. “ If he hits my niece with a ball again. I am coming on the field. It is Enough!” Those might not have been my exact words. But they got the message. No one throws a ball directly at my niece! My Jersey Girl instinct went into full gear. And I was protecting her. Not something that happens in quiet Kansas so often.

She turned back and smiled at me as she walked to first base. Later she told me it happens all the time. Some boys do not like girls playing baseball. My standing up for her became a beloved family legend.

Second, Jersey Girls do not take fools and stupidity quietly. I recently had to help a nephew buy a car. I will not go into full details. Let’s just say the financial guy at the dealership was not very good and made several errors. I will admit he was young, but that was no excuse. Eventually I had the manager of the dealership called. And we had a little talk.   I explained my point of view and all that had gone wrong. I was angry.   I explain that my next step was Facebook, Internet and letters. And that this had to be fixed now. They had wasted my entire day with their stupidity because they had not checked their facts!

They let my nephew drive his car that evening.   We had to go back the next day to finish up the paperwork, since they had messed it up the first day. When we met with the financial guy again, I asked if he had learned anything from the experience. To be honest, I thought he would say that he would check his facts first. But no, his response surprised even me, “I learned never to cross a woman from New Jersey ever again.”

A good lesson, I am sure.

Third, Jersey Girls are very compassionate and will always help the underdog. We might seem tough on the outside. We might give all the air of confidence and competence, which is true to our nature. But when we see someone hurting. When we see a wrong being committed, we help.

I volunteer for an organization that works to help disadvantaged children and families in our community. This year we had a “Back to School” store where we provided school supplies and clothing for about 200 elementary school children. The day of the event, I was one of the volunteers who took the children around to pick out their supplies and clothes. My first little girl got to pick pink jeans, a pink top and a pink coat. She even got new shoes that had pink and purple stitching on them.

As we walked, holding hands, through the room and picking out her school supplies, she looked up to me and said, “This is Like a Wonderful Dream.”

We made the start of her school year wonderful. And I, the soft-hearted Jersey Girl, melted.

Fourth, we will always help a neighbor in need.   I am so tired of hearing that people in New Jersey are uncaring; that they don’t help people in need; that they could just walk past someone hurting. No, not true!

Years ago, when my daughter was a toddler, I was out on my deck when something unusual happened across the street. My neighbor was collapsed in her driveway, her five-year-old son was next to her, and the police and ambulance were coming down the block. I quickly crossed the street. The Mom was rushed to the hospital. The police locked the doors to the house and gave the young boy to me. I brought him home.

I called the school office, as he was in afternoon kindergarten, to tell what was going on. They gave me his Dad’s work number so I could call him. He was understandably distressed: wife in the hospital, son missing. I reminded him who I was, and that I was going to feed the boy lunch and take him to school, as I felt being with his friends and in his routine would be best.   And I told him how wonderful his son was, as he called 911. I told the school as well, when I walked the boy to the school two blocks away.

I have a special place in my heart for this boy. He is in his 30s now. And his Mom and I stay in touch. We Jersey girls never let a child or neighbor in need go unassisted.

Fifth, a Jersey Girl takes action when others are standing around not sure what to do.   My husband and I went on a cruise around the Greek Islands. When we returned to Greece, it took forever for the luggage to get off the ship. Suddenly a man collapsed. Some people went over, including a doctor.   I asked what was happening. “A diabetic who took his insulin but did not eat.” I could handle that. I reached into my bag and pulled out rice cakes covered in cinnamon and sugar. They melt in your mouth. I brought it over and gave the doctor the bag. “This will work,” he said. I knew it. The man recovered. His wife came to thank me. No problem. I had a diabetic Dad.   I would want someone to help him one day. Taking action is what a Jersey Girl does in times of crisis. We do not panic!

Six, a Jersey Girl is there for her family. (Jersey boys as well.) As my parents used to tell us, “Brothers and Sisters stick together.” To my brother, when we were little, that meant “No one but me can hit my sisters.” But as we got older, we work together as a team, which we did when our parents passed away and in dealing with other family events that were tragic. My siblings and I are a team. And my extended family is always there when we need them or they need us!

Finally, Jersey Girls never forget! Do something good for us, we will remember you with love and return the favor over and over. Do something mean and nasty to us or to someone we love or know, and we will never forget. Do not get on the wrong side of a Jersey Girl.

We Jersey Girls have learned to be strong, to stand up for the rights of others, to protect our families and friends. We take no gruff from people.  We teach our daughters and our sons to be strong, independent, proud and good people.  And we defend ourselves.

We might not be perfect, but as the song says: “Cause nothing matters in the whole wide world, when you are in love with a Jersey Girl.”