Sibling Rivalry – We’re at it Again!

Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring, quite often the hard way.  [Pamela Dugdale]

Danny and me a long time ago
Danny and me a long time ago

My brother Danny was almost two years old when I was born. According to our mom’s notes in my baby book, Danny’s first reaction to me was “pretty baby Marian” as he watched me sleeping in my crib. His next recorded comment was an exasperated, “Marian cries so loud I can’t think!” We’ve had a love-hate relationship ever since – for the past 65 years. I agree with Anna Quindlan when she says, “There is a little boy inside the man who is my brother… Oh, how I hated that little boy. And how I love him too.”

Danny Marrian Kittens
When we couldn’t get along, our cats were our friends.

As little kids, we played together – baseball, football, croquet, cowboys and Indians, Monopoly, and on very rare occasions – maybe once or twice in our whole childhood – we played with dolls. We worked together – feeding calves, gathering eggs, baling hay, washing and drying dishes, and whatever other chores Mom and Dad gave us to do. And almost every day we got into a fight over something – such as which story book Mom should read to us before bed, or whether or not the other person had done their fair share of the work we were jointly responsible for doing. Sometimes the fights were simply words and looks. Other times we’d hit each other. I was usually better at word fights. Danny was better at hitting. Fortunately, our anger at each other never lasted longer than a few minutes.

Danny and Marian - teenagers
Our teen years were not our best.

As we got older, we fought less, but we played together less, too. In grade school, I had become the studious little girl who got straight A’s, and Danny had become the boy who was interested in construction and mechanical challenges, and had little interest in books. If we passed each other in the hallway, Danny would look the other way rather than acknowledge that he knew me. I was an embarrassment to him. I guess the feeling was pretty mutual. The closest friendly thing I remember doing for Danny in high school was type a book report that his girlfriend had written for him so he would pass English.

We lived through those awkward years. When I graduated from college, Danny and his wife (who had written the book report) and their 3-year-old daughter helped me move from Wisconsin to Connecticut for my first job as an English teacher. From then on, we learned to relate to each other as adults, mostly.

Family Portrait - early 1960s
Family Portrait – early 1960s

I still love Danny, and I know he loves me, but we’re fighting again. He’s become the conservative, and I’ve become the liberal. Usually, we can avoid topics where we strongly disagree. But that wasn’t possible last weekend. A friend of ours held a wedding reception in her home for Mim and me. Our friend wanted to provide an opportunity for my family and a few close friends around Cambridge to celebrate our happiness. Although Danny has treated Mim as extended family for the forty years we have been together, he refused to come to our wedding reception because he doesn’t approve of same-sex marriage. That hurt me just as much as all those childhood punches. I’m sure our mom and dad are looking down from heaven and saying, “Won’t those kids ever stop fighting!”

No, I don’t think we will. We’re both human, and I’m sure we’ll both hurt each other, and forgive each other, until we die. “You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” [Desmond Tutu]

Danny remodeled our old farmhouse into the perfect house for Mim and me. He also built swinging doors to help us keep guests out of the kitchen when Mim and I had a B&B.
Danny remodeled our old farmhouse into the perfect house for Mim and me in 1992. Later he built swinging doors to help us keep guests out of the kitchen when Mim and I turned the farmhouse into a bed and breakfast.

5 responses to “Sibling Rivalry – We’re at it Again!”

  1. I smiled and shook my head as I read this blog.  For sure I experienced disagreement(s) with my siblings, over the years.  I was so glad that in Clark’s last years he decided to put all those differences aside and just show love to his brother and sisters.  Wish I could say it was that easy with my sister.  I’m still working on that one. 

    My heart goes out to you in your relationship with Danny.  Perhaps he, too, will someday decide to leave judging to God.  I’ll be keeping you in my prayers



    1. Thanks, Mardelle. Siblings really are gifts from God, as are in-laws and relatives of in-laws, as well as everyone else God brings into our lives.

  2. My brother was my best friend, my sister not so much. Both are passed on now, and I miss them. My heart aches with recognition for your pain at Danny not attending the party for you and Mim. It’s so difficult to agree to disagree and still be friends.

  3. My heart hurt when I read this because I care about Dan as well, even though I disagree with him, and it’s hard to be at odds with your grown up sibling. On a side note though, that two-year-old picture of Dan sure looks like Eli and Isaiah!

  4. I’m so sorry for the heartache your brother has caused. Brian and I had a reception after our marriage for his family and friends in upstate NY. It was at a restaurant only a half mile away from where his twin brother lived –yet he refused to attend, and later sent us a registered letter telling us that we were no longer to have any contact with him, and if we showed up on his door step, he’d call the police and have us arrested for trespassing. –He’s not even “religious” –but is obviously influenced by his conservative religious upbringing. I suspect Danny is similarly influenced by your family’s very conservative church. I’m sorry for him, as he now has to wonder if God is punishing the Filipinos for some national sin. (You and I know God doesn’t do that.) Jerry Falwell attributed the 9/11 attacks to GLBT people. (I didn’t know we had such power!) The point is — organized, conservative, “fundamentalist” religion is the root cause of all homophobia –and it’s WRONG! Our conservative friends pretend to know the Bible, but don’t study it. If they did, and also studied what we know of our universe, they’d know that your Mom and Dad –aren’t “up there” looking down on you and Danny. –Where? ?beyond the orbit of Pluto? –and can they really see you and Danny? –Where is “heaven”? –really.

    ’nuff said. –We both love you both very much. –Geo. & Brian.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: