Alright...so we've gone over the 5 oldest. Now, for the next 4. You might expect that I have more of a relationship with them, and for the most part you'd be correct.
My sister, M, is next. She turned 50 earlier this year. Growing up, she was my absolute favorite sibling and I would do anything to spend time with her. Over the years, though, her life has taken twists and turns that I don't necessarily agree with and our relationship has been somewhat strained at times. But, she's my sister and I love her. She lives here in Concord and adores Liam and Ella, but doesn't get to see them as often as she'd like. Of all of us, she's the most "alternative," I guess you could say. M is Cait's mother, so there's been a little bit of tension at times since Cait and I are so close (after all, she lived with us for 5 years), but we've learned to negotiate those waters.
My sister, K, is next. She and I have the same father. We don't really have a close relationship, though, and that makes me sad. Growing up, I think she was jealous of me because her childhood was more difficult than mine. When my parents got together, Mom showed my father a new world of love and warmth that he hadn't really known before (his parents were pretty strict and his first marriage, which is where my other 5 siblings come from, ended badly). Because of this, I think he was able to be more affectionate with me (even though I was scared of him) and K saw this and was envious. Also, K and my sister, N, are only separated by not quite 3 months, so there was a LOT of sibling rivalry between them when I was little. It was stressful. To this day, there's some underlying tension between the two of them that I don't really get. However, K and N's daughters adore each other, so the adults have been forced to work around/through their issues for the sake of the girls. I really, really wish that K and I were closer. Aside from the fact that she's really the only link to our father that I have, I love her children very much and would love to be more a part of their lives. Basically, though, we're pretty much polar opposites. As warm and gregarious as I am, K is buttoned up and kind of a cold fish. I think that we're both just kind of alien to the other and, as much as I reach out to her, she just doesn't know how to handle it. K is an awesome cook and baker and she also loves, love, loves her pets.
N's next. N and K are both not quite 10 years older than I. Growing up, N was my second favorite sibling. She was the cool older sister who didn't mind the kid sister tagging along. One of my fondest memories of N is when she was a cheerleader in high school and I was in awe of her. She taught me the dance routine to the half-time number, which was Beat It. We spent hours in the driveway practicing and I was so excited to see her perform the routine at P's football game. N's husband is the one who committed suicide last year. N has two children and a step-daughter. I love N very much, but she's one of those people who can be nasty mean, but in a way that makes you feel sorry for her because she can just be so unrelenting. I thought she may have mellowed with Mark's death, but sometimes I don't know. We're not overly close these days, although we do live pretty much right around the corner from each other. I'll always be there for her, though, so I suppose that's more a measure of our relationship than anything else.
And now for my brother, P. He and I have a crazy relationship. He's 8 years older than I and I adore him, but he infuriates me at the same time. P is the reason I wanted to have a boy first, because I felt that every little girl should have a big brother. When I was a little girl, there was a Holiday auction at P's high school and he really wanted to win the Cabbage Patch Koosa for me (the pets of the Cabbage Patch Kids, who I will readily admit having an obsession with). P spent $50 on tickets and was pretty confident that he might win. When a teacher won instead, he went to her and asked if he could buy the Koosa from her because he "really wanted to give it to [his] little sister for Christmas." The teacher agreed and there was definitely some big brother worship come Christmas morning. When he received his first computer, P quickly wrote a program to help me learn all of the state capitals. This pretty much illustrates our relationship. He's very much one of those people for whom actions speak louder than words. P's going through a difficult time. His 20 year marriage is ending and it's a sad time. I've been having him over to dinner and it's been a good thing. I don't think he knows exactly how to handle it that Little Sister is in a position to take care of him, but so far he's come to dinner and talked and enjoyed the time, so that makes me happy. P is Liam and Ella's Godfather and he adores the kids. They make him very, very happy. Now, if only P could let go of the sarcasm as a defense mechanism, I'd be thrilled. Plus, he better come to my birthday dinner next week. Otherwise, I'll be pissed. I think he knows better, but I'll keep you posted.
So there you have it. My 9 siblings in a fairly large nutshell. I would love to have some sort of relationship, or at least meet, the remaining 4 from my father's side. Cyndee and I shared a nice connection when we met last year, but I think life has just conspired to keep us too busy to maintain anything. I hope to remedy that soon. From what I understand, the others don't really want to know about me, save one (gasp! How could they not I'm so damn fabulous!) and that's OK.
Despite all of our differences, I love my family dearly. I love being a part of the insanity that is a large family and I love when we're all together. There's nothing that quite like it.