“We found you in the alley and felt so bad for you, we decided to adopt you,” was the line my siblings and I used on each other regularly as we were growing up. No one actually believed it, yet the person who was being told they had been adopted always responded, “Shut up, no I wasn’t” in the whiniest possible voice.
That line was representative of our dynamic. “We found you in an alley…” spoke of our dreams being the only child, and “…and we felt so bad for you we decided to adopt you,” was our way of saying I love you and I’m glad you’re by brother/sister.
That’s the way it is with siblings: the deepest of love, the strongest of rage. We can fight, screaming at the top of our lungs or give each other the silent treatment for days on end (Mami preferred the silent treatment), yet let an outsider mess with any of us, and the rest of us were front and center on the battle line, ready for war.
No one else in this world can inspire such a range of emotion in us or earn such loyalty, even in adulthood. And the stories, oh the stories…
When I was about twelve, my little brother who is four years my junior, stabbed me in the leg with a fork. I don’t know what we had been arguing about, but the minute he walked out the door to throw out the garbage, I locked him out. When he came back up and realized the door was locked he smashed the garbage container into the window, got in, chased me around the apartment, caught me and stabbed my leg. Afer we calmed down we bonded over the realization of just how much trouble we were in for when Mami got home from work. To no one’s surprise, we met with a correa (belt) full of consequences.
As dysfunctional as that might sound to some, in my family it’s folklore: A story that has been, and will continue to be, passed to the next generation as we retell it to each other every few holidays. “Remember when Junito stabbed Libby in the leg,” someone will say, and we’ll all laugh and start reminiscing as we’re once again united in our shared history.
That’s how it is with toda la familia: They throw the best parties; don’t behave at funerals; argue with us; make decisions for us, yet somehow help us live longer.
Families are important to us because they instill the strong values we hold so dear, becoming a recurring theme in everything we do throughout our lives.
What are some of your favorite family stories?