I am the 7th child of 11. I am the 2nd daughter of 4. Growing up in small town Canada, life was pretty darn great. Our home was filled with laughter and music and was always very very noisy. I never got tired of the noise. In fact, I recall being able to sleep the most soundly on Friday and Saturday nights. On Fridays, I fell asleep to the background voices of play by play reports of Hockey Night in Canada and the excited shouts of my older sister and many brothers were music to my ears. On Saturdays, friends and family gathered at our place and as I reluctantly crept up to bed those nights, I nonetheless held onto the pictures of those laughing people downstairs and smiled at the promise of one day being old enough to be a part of those festivities.
I loved and still love all my dear siblings but I will admit it here, I had a special love for my big sister. Maureen is almost 5 years older than me and she still insists that my birth was an answer to her prayers all those years ago. At last, another girl in a family gone crazy with males. 🙂
Let me share with you the story of that love she held for me. Let me bring you back to my first year at school. Those days we called it Primary; today it is usually referred to as kindergarten. Primary that year was held in a building about 200 yards from the main school. Though it wasn’t far from home, I was still too young to walk home after school alone. So Maureen had the responsibility of walking me home each day. Another classmate of mine also had an older sister in Maureen’s class and since we were let out some time before the older grades, we were permitted to walk to the big school building to wait for our sisters. Often Maureen’s teacher, a nun, would see us in the hallway waiting and several times, she invited us in to stand before the class and wait. I was terribly shy and pretty well everyone was terrified of most teachers, especially this one. She was a ‘holy terror’ (forgive the pun). On this one day, she called us into the classroom. All was hushed and quiet and she made us announce ourselves and point out each of our sisters. Susan (my fellow classmate) and her sister Anne were the daughters of a University professor. Maureen and I were two out of a large family and while our dad was a very respected business man, we were considered by this infamous nun to be less than. So we stated our names in nervous little voices and then looked out at the sea of faces holding onto the eyes of our sisters for comfort. That nun then proceeded to ridicule me and my family and to praise the other little girl. She said I was dirty, made the children snicker at my clothes and even pointed out that I had a runny nose. She said that I was poor and homely and not smart at all and then raved about the beauty of Susan. Inside I actually did not care about what she was saying. I was staring at my big sister who by now had tears streaming down her face. I saw the wounded look in Maureen’s brown eyes and the feeling of helplessness as she witnessed this injustice. The whole tirade went on for what seemed like an hour though it was probably no more than 5 or 10 minutes. I was shaking with eagerness to escape but I stayed there to show my big sister that I would not cry and that I would be brave. We have always been close and in my opinion this is the day that the deep bond was cemented for a lifetime. After class was dismissed, Maureen quickly collected her things and rushed to take my hand. She held onto to me so tight all the way home that I knew I was still safe and greatly loved.
I bless God for ALL my family. I praise Him for the best big sister ever!
By the way, I heard that a few years later that nun was institutionalized for a mental disorder but I wonder how many children she maimed before that happened.
God is the one who gives me the courage to say, over 50 years later; “Forgive her Lord. Because of You, I do!”