What a wild and wonderful month we’ve had as we our youngest son Eli was married last Friday! In preparation for his wedding one of my biggest jobs was to update “The Book”. This is a book that I have been keeping for him since the day he was born. I registered my thoughts at his delivery and contemplated his life as I lay in my hospital bed. As he grew I wrote about the cute things he did and said and solicited entries from his dad and his grandmothers (his grandfathers had passed on). Even though I was determined to write consistently but often I had to catch up on months and toward the end years at a time! As I packed it around to catch up as we traveled that last few weeks before his wedding I realized that the last entry was 1995! I had slipped pictures in the book over the years as reminders, which helped, but what a drive through memory lane it was to complete his book!
I learned so much from reading about his life. So many things I had long since forgotten. There was the night that Richard and I came home, having left our sixteen year old daughter Saren babysitting our little ones, to find a fire engine and an ambulance with flashing lights outside our door. Panicked, we rushed in to find a poison control crew standing over Eli who had just drunk some of the chemicals from his older brother Josh’s chemistry set. Unable to get ahold of us in the pre-cell phone days, Saren had wisely called poison control and they were busy “controlling” the event. By the end of the evening, almost our entire street came in to watch Eli throw up several times in the bathtub and they cheered as he did! Just as a postscript to that event, the next week Eli drank a bottle of cologne! When we called poison control again, they said that he would be fine but that he might get a little drunk! The next week it was Selsun Blue and so on. I thought the time would never end when Eli would quit drinking weird stuff! But it did!
Next, in the book, I remembered how merciless Eli was to Charity, his younger sister, who he never forgave for taking over his three year reign as the baby of the family. He teased her mercilessly. She would tease and her shrill scream brought about the exact response he was looking for. As I read in his book about those crazy days, I had forgotten an incident that happened when we lived in England one year. Charity had just turned one, Eli was four and their older brother Jonah who was in the fifth grade went to a Church of England school where his teacher was terrorizing him every day. The other kids’ teachers were excellent, but as in any situation, there are some “lemons”. This teacher, in hindsight was so verbally abusive that she should have never been allowed to teach. One day on our walk to school, Jonah mournfully said, “Oh how I wish that I was Charity. All she has to worry about is Eli!”
Even though the teacher crisis that year passed on, it took a little longer for Eli and Charity to become friends. Sorry to say to you mothers who have siblings “rivaling” that it took Eli leaving for college for them to realize how much they adored each other! Now they love each other with a fierce and loyal love that made it hard for Charity to give Eli away to another woman last week! It was especially hard because she is in England on a mission for our church and wasn’t able to be with him. Luckily we had a statue of her to stand in line with the rest of the kids at the wedding breakfast. A sister-in-law read her part from behind the cardboard and this is what she had to say:
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“Well, brother, I think we both know perfectly what sibling rivalry is. The beautiful thing is that over the years we have both figured out miraculously and perfectly what sibling adoration is. And on this day of your marriage, I want you to know that I love you with such a unique and real love - a love that withstood all the teasing and taunting and shoving and is now a part of my heart of hearts, a love that I will always treasure and carry with me.”
“Thank you for teasing me, for making me tough, for protecting me and supporting me. Thank you for cheering me up, for making me laugh, for having crazy adventures all over the world with me, for apologizing and forgiving and building me up. Thank you for teaching me how to be a missionary, a Christian, and a genuinely good person in so many many ways. Thank you for making me who I am. Thank you for being my brother and being my friend. I love you!” Charity
Truly, life is a stage. So whatever stage in your children’s lives that is driving you crazy at the moment, remember that before long it will be just a memory to laugh and/or cry about. Time is slipping through your fingers. Before you know it they’ll be married so “seize the day”!