Sunday, August 7, 2011
They started it all
All of my siblings have grandchildren, except for my brother Buz, whose daughter Trish is married but not yet a mother. Maybe never, I'm not sure how she feels about it. And my sister Markee's kids are teenagers and not yet married. I am the only one who doesn't have any possibility of grandchildren, but still our family gatherings are enormous. The siblings, which Buz cleverly dubbed the "Sixlings" many years ago, have a few characteristics in common, and I wonder how much they are caused by the genetic makeup that stems from our parents.
Our parents were both above average in intelligence, and all of their children are, too. This is not surprising in itself, but what I really wonder about is our tendency towards attention to detail and perfectionism. Sort of a mild form of OCD, in a way. It's what makes me a good editor; I can't help but see a misspelled word or incorrect punctuation. (It doesn't mean I don't make those mistakes myself, but when I'm working I am quite good at fixing other people's work.) Norma Jean worked at hospitals building databases for medical records; P.J. absolutely LOVES any kind of spreadsheet and can build one in a jiffy. My brother Buz has worked for years as a computer whiz and if I want to know how to do something I will ask him. He will then send me very detailed step-by-step instructions.
The two siblings that I am farthest from in age, Markee and Fia, were both born after I left home and had children of my own. They are very close to each other, but I don't know them very well. Markee is an R.N. and earned several scholarships when she was growing up; and Fia, the youngest, also works for a team of doctors and can help any of us get the medical care we might need. Every single one of us is good at paying attention to detail and every one of us has excelled in his or her job. Most of us never finished college, however. I never had the chance since I started having babies at nineteen, and Norma Jean also married early and dropped out of college. Besides, in the sixties women weren't supposed to go to college unless it was to find a suitable husband. That's what I thought then, anyway.
My own particular symptom is that I count things. I cannot walk up a flight of steps without counting them, usually in sets of fours or eights. I know the number of steps of every place that I go every day, and as I walk up them, counting, it gives me some sort of satisfaction, I can't say exactly what. (The number of steps doesn't vary, but my method of counting them does.) In my exercise class, I always count the number of people in the class at the beginning and notice when someone arrives late or leaves early, adjusting the count in my head. I count the number of people on the bus. I don't know why I do this, but I do.
I don't have any problem with the uncounted jumble of books on my desk or my pencils being misaligned, but I do like straight lines. Sometimes I'll be walking and will make sure that I turn corners precisely, not making short cuts. When I make the bed, I like the lines on the quilt to be in exactly in the same place each time. Now that I'm retired, I seem to be more aware of these things, maybe because I have plenty of time to spend noticing them, or maybe I do it more often.
My siblings all have habits that I recognize as being part of me, too. Did we get this way because our genetic makeup from Mama and Daddy caused it? It's a mystery to me, but it's also quite comforting to think that our parents gave us an invisible thread, joining us to one another, that comes from them and extends on and on through the generations that follow us. It started somewhere way back with our distant ancestors and came to fruition in the unique joining of our mother and father. How cool is that?
I've just barely scratched the surface of this subject, which I'll visit again. It's Sunday morning and I've fulfilled my self-imposed task of writing this post as the sun has arisen and the early morning light spills into the room. I hear the birds now, they are awake on this beautiful August day, and my partner is beginning to stir next to me. My day awaits.