‘ ” ” ” ” ” ” ‘‘ ‘‘ ” ” ” ‘is for Gaynl and Gary.
People tell me you can choose your friends, but you cannot choose your family. Given a choice, I doubt I could have made a better choice of a sister and a brother.
My sister, Gaynl Ann, is a rock, best described by the word “loyalty.” She is devoted to family and friends. Gaynl worked for the same company for forty years. That’s loyalty.
We make an interesting contrast. Raised by a mother with definite ideas about roles and who does what, Gaynl and I must have been a challenge. We didn’t fit the molds Mom had in mind for either of us. Not the least bit interested in sewing, knitting, crocheting, or any of the “girlie” things Mom wanted her to do, Gaynl was an ace with a ball, a bat, a golf club, and anything else related to just about any sport. Don’t mess with her when it comes to the Forty-Niners and the Giants. I, on the other hand, had no clue about or interest in sports. Thank god for my grandmother who thought boys should know how to cook and to sew on a button.
On the other hand, Gaynl is a consummate cook. She knows her way around a kitchen. I am speaking of the high end kind of cooking. Everything she cooks is perfectly done, elegantly displayed, beautifully served, and thoroughly enjoyed.
My brother, Gary Michael, is called “Mike” in the family because Gramma didn’t think Gary a suitable name for a boy. Poor Mom. She lost that one, too. Even though Gary makes for better alliteration, Mike is my Go-To Guy. He’s calm, easy going, solid, dependable. He’s the one who talks me off of the ledge when times get crazy, as they sometimes do. “Loyalty” defines Mike, too.
The best example of our relationship as siblings has to do with our mother at the end of her life. Shortly after Mom turned eighty, Mike suggested we have a family meeting to talk with Mom about how she would like us to handle things when it got to a point where she could no longer handle them. Mom was delighted by our interest and concern. Well-organized, she went through all of the details for us. We acknowledged her plans and promised we would carry out her wishes.
By the time she reached eighty-four, Mom had begun a serious decline. We decided it was time to take action. Each of us took on a specific area of responsibility for Mom’s care. I was in charge of day-to-day and healthcare issues. Gaynl handled the finances and insurance. Mike was the “Sunshine Committee.”
Whenever something related to Mom’s care needed to be changed, I called Gaynl and Mike. They always agreed. “Okay, Mike,” I’d say, “call your mother.”
“I just talked to Mike,” Mom would tell me. “You know what he said?” And she’d proceed to tell me exactly what I asked Mike to tell her. “Isn’t that a good idea,” she’d say.
Yeah, right, Mom, I’d think to myself. I could have called to tell her the same thing, but she wouldn’t hear it from me. That’s why we called Mike the Sunshine Committee.
During the final two years of Mom’s life, Gaynl, Mike, and I handled everything. There was never a moment of hesitation, a harsh word, or a single disagreement. We did exactly as we promised we would do, confident Mom would approve. Loyalty is a family value.