My youngest sister, Marty, sixteen years younger, was here in Seattle last weekend, with her husband Bart. They'd been to Hawaii on business(!) and stopped to see me on the way home. (Imagine the contrast. Anyway.)
We had a great time: Happy hour at List in Belltown, Anne Lamott at Seattle First Baptist on Capitol Hill, Moisture Festival at Hale's Paladium, even a sunbreak long enough to sip champagne on the porch stoop. It took us two tries to make it to Seattle Art Museum -- the first time, we were diverted by the Cuban sandwiches at Paseo, which we could smell so compellingly from the bus stop -- but we did it.
They left yesterday morning. For the first time in days, my breakfast was accompanied by reading instead of conversation. The latest AARP magazine has an article on estrangement within families, and how to repair it. We've had our problems over the years in my family, but I think we'd all agree that getting over it is a bedrock family value.
It was interesting to hear my sister and brother-in-law talk about how their kids, a boy and a girl, ended up at the same college and spend a lot of time together there. And they're really different from each other.
Marty and Bart said they had consciously fostered the connection. The whole family loves to play together, and is famous for inventing weird variations of, say, whiffle ball. But in addition, the parents put their minds to making sure the kids ended up friends and allies. Miranda went to every game Roman played in. Sometimes on vacations, Marty would hand one of the kids a ten and say, Go do something with your sister/brother.
I've often been impressed with how Marty and Bart think about how they want things to turn out, and then make a plan. It fits with my favorite Beatles' line, which showed up on this crazy poster in the bathroom stall of the art building at UW this weekend when I took my guests to see the cherry blossoms in bloom on campus.