Posts Tagged ‘Siblings’

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty.

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My sister Theresa’s love for me is extraordinary. She is so solicitous of my welfare that when I call her on her mobile phone, she typically answers not with “hello,” but “is everything all right?” or “what’s wrong?” If something is wrong, by god, she’s going to set it right. The precedent for this aspect of her sisterly devotion seems to have been established when I was in the 2nd grade, though I am sure this extreme form of loyalty emanates from the core of her being.

When I was in the second grade, a boy in my class made me cry: cue Theresa’s wrath. Poor Samuel (his name has been changed to protect his identity) had elected to “flip up” my skirt on the playground (do little boys still do this?). Surprised and embarrassed, I burst into tears. The extremity of Theresa’s response to this injustice typifies her displeasure with any perceived mistreatment of me, known to her as “Tishy.” The next day, Theresa, who was a 6th grader, approached the boy in question, and aggressively dared him to flip up her skirt. His tears were more immediate and intense than mine had been.

Twenty years later, Theresa was no less anxious for my safety. I was vacationing in Puerta ImageVallarta, Mexico, in 2001, and a tropical storm hit the city. I was aware of a strong storm outside the windows of the club where my friends and I were dancing all night. I didn’t realize it was a significant tropical storm until I got a call from Theresa the next morning. She knew more about the storm than I did as she had been anxiously checking the weather channel every five minutes. The only awareness I had of the unusual weather was as we left the club, we saw locals grab fish off the flooded streets to take home for Sunday dinner. The fact that fish were on the street did strike me as abnormal. When my friends and I returned to our hotel, one of the larger trees had been uprooted in the courtyard, but no real damage had occurred. As is so often the case, I was fine, and Theresa worried needlessly.

Theresa’s anxiety is also a storm: a swirling mass of concern and affection and love, awful and beautiful and powerful. Fortunately, the men who have broken my heart have done so stealthily, without attracting her indignation. One word would be enough to summon her to my defense. In a fearsome world, how incredible to have the steadfast protection only a big sister can provide.

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

Whenever I think of my brother Bobby, I think of him either outdoors, or in his truck. Of course, he’s had many trucks over the years, but I never think of a particular truck, I just think of him and a pick-up. When he’s not in his pick-up truck, he’s likely outside, or as close to outside as is feasible.

In the houses in which he’s lived as a man, he has carved out for himself (probably not even consciously) an indoor space as close to the outdoors as possible. In his house in Medina, Ohio, his office was the room directly through the back door, a room with windows covering two of the four walls, a pair of his muddy boots ever at the ready. In his current house, in Gahanna, Ohio, he spends his time not in a room at all, but in the “breezeway” (aka gangway) between the garage and the house. He has fitted this breezeway with an old chair, a preposterously small television, and a cooler for beer. Bobby is a man of simple tastes.

There are few pictures of Bobby online, but this is a fairly accurate depiction. He is seen here with our nephew, Billy (our nephew has the beard). Mental note: I need to take a picture of Bobby in his truck immediately. Of all my brothers and sisters, Bobby is the most unchanged since youth, at least he seems that way to me.

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I heard somewhere that a man’s character can be defined by what he does when he thinks no one is looking, a sentiment that encapsulates what I know about Bobby. He drove me back home after my first year of college (in his truck), and I fell asleep. I was roused by the familiar feeling of the truck slowing down, so I thought we were pulling off the highway into our hometown. Before I could properly gather my senses, Bobby began repeatedly blasting the horn. At that point, I realized that we were pulling off onto the highway shoulder. I looked and saw a family of deer turning from their course toward the highway, bounding safely back into the bushes instead. I looked over at Bobby. Without being asked, he explained; “I had to frighten them off, or someone could have been hurt.”

I’ve learned a lot more about safety and security since then. I know that they are often illusions. Still, I like knowing that there are men in the world like my big brother, Bobby.

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty.

Many aspects of my sister Margo’s personality defy consistent characterization. One of her many peculiar choices was the decision to accompany me on an adventurous trip to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. She is far from a seasoned traveler, vacationing typically with her husband and four children on the beaches of North Carolina. Why she felt compelled to join me on a 12 day trip to Europe, I don’t know.  Still, it was an once-in-a-lifetime trip, as so many are. Margo does not complain, generally, and enjoys things without giving them too much thought, as long as they are different or entertaining. She is easy company, though I did exhaust her tolerance for art museums. We travelled in January. I prefer to travel in the off-season because of the reduction in both cost and number of tourists. For as much as I love people, I dislike crowds. Our trip began in Prague, a wonderfully charming and walkable place.Image

The apartment we rented exceeded our expectations, and the weather, though cold, was bright and sunny. We visited the Old Town and the New, explored Prague Castle, crossed the Charles Bridge, and ate and drank at inviting restaurants and pubs before reluctantly making our way to Vienna.

Vienna was planned as a quick stop, a midway point between Prague and Budapest. Vienna is exquisite, exciting, and enormous. A day and a half in Vienna was the result of my ignorance of the city’s grandeur. Nevertheless, our itinerary included one perfect item: attending a performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Vienna Opera House! Our seats were literally numbers 3 and 4 in the first box. Though Margo doesn’t particularly care for opera, she went along happily, enjoying the glamour and the spectacle. The next day, we departed for Budapest, where our good fortune ran out. The first issue arose when the good-natured Margo mistakenly thought that the man who offered to carry her bags to the train would do so for free (Margo somehow still inhabits an enviable world where men do such things). Naturally, the strange man accompanied us onto the train, insisting a high payment for a task we had not requested of him. I was forced to give him the rest of our cash to get rid of him. Thankfully, I had packed some sandwiches and snacks; otherwise we would have had to go hungry, en route to. . .Hungary.

Budapest was not welcoming. The weather had turned colder and the region was swathed in shadowy fog. The view of Buda Castle across the Chain Bridge was nonexistent. The whole city was the color of dishwater.  Our search for a restaurant near our hostel was endless and fruitless. We walked aimlessly until we were forced to stop because Margo had to use the bathroom. We found a bar on a tiny avenue in Pest. Like most conscientious travelers, (especially those who want to avoid being labeled an “ugly American”), I abide by the rule that if you are going to use a bathroom, you must order something. So, while Margo rushed in the direction of the toilets, I ordered two beers at the bar and took them, with the glasses provided, to a nearby table. I waited patiently for Margo, feeling perfectly at ease, though clearly out of place. We were the only women in the bar. We were the only Americans in the bar. Only one other person spoke English, which he made clear when he approached and asked what had brought us there. He was friendly, but wanted to warn us that our presence was perceived as unusual. I planned to tell Margo we should drink our beers quickly. When she returned from the bathroom, her face looked a bit pained.

“The bathroom was gross,” she whispered.

When she saw the beer she asked, “We’re staying?”

I invoked the rule of good travelers, which she knew well by this point in our trip. She sat down and began to pour her beer into the glass provided. Then she looked at the glass. It was as clean as the rest of the place, which was not very.

“I shouldn’t have used the glass,” she said sadly, mostly to herself. 

Moved by her misery, I passed her my beer, which she finished in three desperate gulps, and we left.

As we walked back to our hostel, I asked Margo if, perhaps, she thought we should leave Budapest earlier than planned and go back to Prague.

Instantly transformed back to her animated self, Margo began to chant: “Back to Prague! Back to Prague! Back to Prague!”

One thing I can say for my sister Margo, she brings enthusiasm with her wherever she goes.

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty.

My sister Barbara and I have some things in common, but for the most part, we are quite different. She is quiet and shy, which I am only rarely. She is humble and self-effacing, which I generally am not. She is petite, which I definitely am not. Nevertheless, she is my big sister, and she has been kind and loving to me throughout my entire life. Her literary equivalent the angelic Jane Bennet; I recognized Barbara instantly: always loving, always giving, always accepting.  It occurs to me now she and I have never had an argument. This remarkable fact is due entirely to her sweetness. Happily, Barbara and I were uncommonly close during my adolescence. She is, rather unbelievably, 10 years older than me. She was living at home after college, working and eventually enrolling in graduate school while I was in high school. We had breakfast together nearly every morning: raisin bran and orange slices. We worked together, too. She managed a Greek Restaurant where I worked weekends in the kitchen as a “salad girl.” At the restaurant, she met the man who would Imagebecome her husband. Barbara married Dana the same spring that I graduated high school. All of the “Lunt girls” were bridesmaids in the wedding.  She was delighted to be getting married “at last,” at 27 (when we all still thought 27 was old). Possibly the most perfect memory of my sweet sister Barbara is the sight of her dancing at her own wedding. She was in the middle of an enormous circle of friends and family, smiling—beaming—and swirling and swaying in uncharacteristic delight, celebrating her happiness and her beauty while dancing to Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman.”

We all learned a phrase from our mother: “pretty is, as pretty does,” which impressed to us that it was useless to only be pretty on the outside. We must be pretty inside, too.  And so, my sister Barbara is my prettiest sister—inside and out.

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty.

Brothers and Sisters (part 2 of 6)

Both a successful businessman and a Lt. Colonel in the United States Air Force, my eldest brother, Ralph, works hard to cultivate a persona of remote seriousness. Happily, his efforts are not wholly successful, and he remains delightfully silly underneath his various stiff collars. Throughout his youth, Ralph embraced every opportunity for fun; I recall the gusto he brought to the roller rink: circling, grooving, smiling and laughing. Best of all is Ralphie’s fondness for singing, especially since his willingness to sing and capacity to do so are inversely proportional. Only William Shatner’s voice can compare for sheer indescribability, yet how fantastic to see him in action. I realized Ralph was hopeless goofball was when, upon his return from an Air Force mission to England, he introduced the family to the Rick Astely’s one hit. The fact that my brother had captured Astley’s dance moves well became clear when the song finally made it onto MTV’s rotation (where it stayed seemingly endlessly).  Ralph singing“Never Gonna Give You Up”defies description.  The notions of key and tone elude Ralph to this day. And still, he sings! He loudly sings hymns in church, carols at Christmas, and favorite tunes in his house and car. Ralph’s enthusiasm is a wonderful reminder that whether or not we possess much talent, we should all sing and dance because we are alive, and we can.

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty.

I am the youngest in my family; I have four older sisters and two older brothers. Not enough is said about the remarkable love and friendship siblings share.lunt

Perhaps this is why I admire Jane Austen. She was a devoted sister, and her characters often display a profound attachment to their favorite siblings. Siblings are our first playmates, teachers, and tormentors. It is one of the great joys of my life that I can still spend the holidays with all six of my exceptional, magnificent siblings. We are all unique, but our shared history created a profound connection that surpasses any differences. Perhaps what I love most of all is the fact that we still love each other so well.

How can I enumerate all of the wonderful attributes my siblings possess? Naturally, the list could never be complete; our relationships constantly change and evolve with time.  The ways I interacted with my siblings (all older) in my youth were primarily dictated by who had time to spend with me. When I was quite young, my older sisters Betsy and Barbara were my affectionate caretakers. My brother Ralph drove me to the places too far away to walk (choir practice every Monday night for years—years!).  My brother Bobby taught me how to ride a bike in the church parking lot up the road. Margo and Theresa seemed perpetually busy with either sports or boyfriends, but I recall a tremendous amount of sharing, borrowing, and out-right stealing of belongings now lost to a refuse pile.

Many of the memories I cherish embody the lovable quirks of each sibling. My eldest sister, Betsy, was burdened in many ways by her role as the oldest of seven children; she was expected to be responsible, in charge. However, she can be wildly spontaneous. A favorite memory is the day Betsy, Theresa, and I “played hooky.”  I was in middle school. Theresa was in high school. Betsy was already out of college, a working woman.

Surprisingly, she decided we all needed a day off from our obligations (the paper-thin excuse was that all the towels were dirty). Skipping school was an enormously rebellious act in my family—the total number of school days I missed from kindergarten through graduate school is less than 20. But, on this strange and extraordinary day, Betsy wanted to rebel, so we did. We took her small car, the “little red Chevette,” which she drove uncommonly fast.  We cranked the radio and sang along. We were aimless; we drove to the park, to the lake. We bought every treat imaginable at a convenient store and sat and ate and talked. The day seemed to stretch out endlessly. We did literally whatever we wanted. It was a day of impossible freedom summoned magically into existence by my “responsible” older sister Betsy. I’ll never forget it.

To be continued. . .next up: Ralph’s sensitive nature and dreadful singing.