Forever Family
By Penny Wiegert
Like most parents, my husband and I have certain things we have regularly said to our children that they are probably sick of hearing.
Just a few examples are: “Do your homework. Clean up your room. Save your money. There is a difference between needs and wants. Be nice to your brother and sisters. When all else fails, your family is forever.” 
Of course all our instruction, guidance and clichés naturally changed according to the age of the children, their circumstance as students, young workers, sports participants, etc. But you get the idea. 
I specifically remember a time when we had two daughters in high school and one in middle school. The schools were connected so they would see each other daily. The older ones didn’t want to be “embarrassed” by the younger one and vice versa. And of course, all three were of the age where all their friends’ comments and opinions mattered more than the Gospels. 
I remember giving the ‘family matters’ speech at the time. I was incensed that they would ignore each other for the sake of friends or would follow the pack mentality about their sisters. I remember admonishing them not to fall in with their friends when they were judgmental or unkind and most especially if that involved their siblings. No matter what, family is important, I instructed. 
I recall telling the girls that “friends will always come and go and go up and down in importance in your life, but family is family and you better stick up for each other and support each other.”  I added, “Your siblings are the first and last people who have a bond with you, care about you, support you and most of all family are the people who loved you first. You are part of each other.” I wanted them never to forget it.
And now that our children are older and have or are making families of their own, some of what we want our kids to understand about that sibling bond is even more important.
My thoughts on family and most especially siblings, took on new meaning lately because of a couple things.
First, we happily are going to add another member to our family. My son announced that he is engaged. We couldn’t be happier to welcome another daughter into the family. And with all our faults and failings we hope she is happy to be part of us. But most important, our son is happy and so are we.
We look forward to sharing all the history that makes her husband-to-be the person she loves today. 
It will be wonderful to become part of their new family. And thankfully, our future daughter-in-law comes from a family who understands the incredible gift that family life is and how it shapes you, for better or worse, into the person you are in the present.
Second, this is a milestone birthday year for my sister. There is a considerable age difference between us so at various times we were each like only children to our parents. There were also times that we didn’t or couldn’t really relate to each other because we were at radically different stages in our development. I was her first babysitter and the first one to teach her things she probably didn’t need to know ... or at least that’s what my parents thought. When I learned to drive, in the days before seat belt laws, she was my little co-pilot standing in the middle of the front seat like a little hood ornament. 
But as we have gotten older, the age difference sort of melts away. The common denominator is that we are both getting older and we are sisters. We have cried the same kind of tears for grandparents and even for our mom in death. We have cried joyful tears at graduations, weddings and births. In times of triumph and challenge in her life or mine, we are still sisters and always will be. 
So as she celebrates her half century on this planet, I thank God for having a sister. Someone who, because of our shared DNA, makes the journey of life less lonely. There are so few people who can say they’ve known you forever. I am so honored to be one of those people for my sister. 
Yes, family is forever. Pass it on.