For as long as I can remember I’ve had a big sister. That’s because she is seven years older than I. By the time I began to form memories I was 5 years old, and she was 12.
When I was five I started school at Greenbank Infants School in Bristol, U.K. I cried a lot on that first day.
The family legend is that I cried until the first “playtime” (recess) in the school playground (school yard) that morning.
The legend goes on to say that I re-entered the classroom and announced “I am not going to cry anymore because I saw my sister”.
That sister was my big sister Maureen. Her “big girls” school started a week later, so she was able to lurk near my school-yard for that first mid-morning “playtime”.
I think that I remember that morning, but it’s more than likely that I remember what was told to me later.
However I recall that story is un-important.
What is important is that I have a fabulous “big sister”.
Her Christian names are Maureen Joy.
It is alleged that she was named Maureen because my dad had a fondness for all things Irish (“Maureen” being an “Irish” name).
What is true is that our next door neighbours Mr and Mrs Charlton said that her middle name should be “Joy”, for they asserted that she would always be a joy to my Mum and Dad.
They were correct.
My big sister Maureen has always been a source of joy. She is a fabulous woman.
She and I became fast friends back in 1966. I had my very first car and was working at the Westminster Bank on the Wells Road in Knowle, Bristol. She was working at the M.A.C. (Metal Agencies Company) on Winterstoke Rd in the Ashton district of Bristol.
I would drive her to work, and in those drives we would enjoy long and truthful conversations.
It was at the M.A.C. that she met the love of her life Bernard Theobald. They married, and Maureen adopted the two children of his first (tragic) marriage, Nick and Louise.
But we could never refer to Nick and Louise as her adopted children. For they adore her, and they know that she is their darling Mum (and they are my nephew and niece without a doubt).
Maureen and Bern were blessed with two more children, my nieces Emma and Anne.
Nick, Louise, Emma and Ann have, with their spouses, birthed six grand-children for Maureen and Bern
(I was privileged to assist at the weddings of my nephew Nick to his beloved Lesley, and of my niece Anne to her darling spouse Stuart).
I had a lovely conversation with my fabulous “big sister” on Christmas Eve 2012. She was as happy as a clam as she anticipated a Christmas Day with her husband Bern, her four children and their partners, and with her six grand-children.
As our conversation drew to an end Maureen said “I love you very much”.
That brought tears to my eyes. How wonderful to have a sister who loves me very much. The feeling is mutual.
Yesterday, Dec 29th 2012 my equally beloved brother Martyn and his wife Wendy hosted a party in Bristol, U.K. for my family members. He wrote this of our sister Maureen and her husband Bern.
” It was truly great to see Maureen & Bern; they were the guests of honour in all our eyes. Maureen has such love to share; there was almost a queue of us waiting to sit a talk with her. I am especially delighted that Sam & Laura (Wendy and Martyn’s children) love her as much as we do.
Some fifteen years ago Maureen and my Mum visited me in Pittsfield, MA together with Martyn, Wendy, Laura, and Sam (then a babe in arms).
Young Laura shared a make-shift bedroom in my den with her Auntie Maureen.
This was a wonderful and joyous adventure for Laura.
She emerged one morning and spoke of “Auntie Morning”.
Laura unwittingly spoke the truth.
Our dear sister Maureen gives us the hope and joy of every morning!
Both Martyn and I get all teared up with deep love as we thank God for our wonderful big sister.