Family and Fibromyalgia

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I have a bit of a complicated family. I am, effectively, an only child… that is, of my parents’ marriage, although I have three sisters and a brother. In brief, I have an older half-sister by my mother’s first marriage, an older half-brother by an interim relationship she had, and two younger half sisters by my father’s second marriage. So, as you see, an only child…

Although not really… my sister, strictly speaking, half-sister, and I have been as close as any full blooded relationship could make us.

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When my parents met, my father was a newly qualified veterinary surgeon, while my mother was working as a receptionist, and living at home and taking some time to think what to do next with her life after the failure of her first marriage that had left her with a little girl. My parents (obviously) hit it off and got married, my father quite pleased with the idea of a bonus daughter. And what does every vet’s daughter need? Why, a pony of course! My father, eager to fit in with the right set, bought my sister a pony, and so it was firmly established that we would be a ‘horsy’ family before I even set foot in this world.

My sister grew up to be a talented horsewoman and soon outgrew her pony… which I inherited. She rode to hounds with my parents (sorry) and came home triumphantly with the fox’s brush and blood on her cheeks. I cried.

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These were the glory days of horsemanship and British showjumpers like Harvey Smith and Paddy McMahon were the pin-ups of the day. My sister was the talk of the show jumping circuit on her bay horse, built like a tank that went like a rocket.

I was there to witness a bad fall though, as her horse clipped the top rail of a jump with his hoof and fell…My sister lay, groaning, beneath the felled jump, while the horse scrambled to his feet and galloped away. My mother leapt agilely into the ring and darted towards the horse, screaming:

My God, Rambler, are you all right?!”

My sister broke her collarbone that time.

My parents spent a lot of time ferrying my sister from one show to the next. I didn’t mind. I was quite happy at home, with my cat, my books and a sweet French girl called Isabelle who my parents paid to look after me – I learned most of my nursery rhymes in French first.

As my sister grew older and technically more responsible, she looked after me while my parents worked, and, as siblings do, we managed some fairly spectacular adventures … and got along together pretty well. The day she let my pony in the kitchen was quite entertaining, as was the day she was stuck up a tree for three hours as the new horse waited below … and I waited inside for my mother to come home and remove the bad-tempered creature.

Mornings after dinner parties – my father was determined to take his place in the social circle – we would sneak down and eat leftovers and have onion fights … the aim of this being to place a piece of raw onion directly in your opponent’s eye and hold it there – by force if necessary, until they start screaming and crying. Being ten years older than me, my sister generally won this.

Then my parents got divorced. I went to boarding school – unwillingly – and my sister moved in with her boyfriend – happily. My father moved in with his mistress – relievedly – and my mother finished her training as a nurse.

The childhood days that seemed like something out of a James Herriot book crossed with a Jilly Cooper novel were over, as our family members essentially went their different ways.

We don’t live far from each other now, my sister and I, and we’ve only just started talking again, after a fall – out lasting more than ten years… She has Fibromyalgia, my sister.

This debilitating disease has sapped her strength and muddied her mind. The girl who met each fall with bravery and got back up again now needs special aids in the house to help her up and downstairs safely. The small sensitive hands that could guide a horse with the lightest touch on the reins are now swollen with Rheumatism.

Yet she recalls each detail of our childhood with laughter, and meets each new challenge with the courage that kept her flying over six foot jumps as I watched safely from the sidelines.

My sister – my friend.

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33 thoughts on “Family and Fibromyalgia

  1. What a beautiful story this is, Samantha. I’m not sure why, but I always find something to relate to in your posts. But I’d never be able to put it in words. And my words would never be beautiful (I don’t mind, I don’t think I need to create beautiful words in order to appreciate the beauty IN words).
    I do hope one day I can buy your book (I promise to buy it-you have it in writing).
    I could ride a horse before I could walk. I don’t ride anymore -and I’m a strange mixture of me and my background (my family and my upbringing). Well, I don’t think it explains anything (and is not meant to) but I know I’ll be thinking about your post -again. You touch my soul (and I don’t even believe I have one).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is complicated! But, as a person with only the one sibling I am looking through slightly green eyes! Sad that your sister has such a debilitating illness, but the fact that you have made up is lovely. And next time, could you put a little health warning up at the top? Specifically a ‘this might cause your mascara to run’ alert? I’d appreciated it….!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Ah..mine aren’t too bad actually, although I have rubbish eyebrows..they’re blonde and look totally non-existent. You would think that would make me good at poker since eyebrows augment facial expressions, but apparently I have a very expressive face anyway. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ginger again for me! An expressive face is nice, I think, but yeah, definitely not good for poker. Poker is hard though. All those sums. No, wrong game, that’s Pontoon. I’d prefer a no-holds-barred game of Snap…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. If you have them tattooed, what happens as you get older? Would they not perhaps droop a bit? Might the tattoo end up actually somewhat unattached to the actual eyebrow? A person could end up with four of them!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. !!! That’s a scary thought!!!
        So…if you had lipliner tattoed…
        Ok maybe I’ll stick to being a no-brow…with a gap in my reasonable eyelashes where I appear to have pulled a chunk out when I poked myself in the eye yesterday..

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Probably wise. I figure makeup, if you want to use it, will have come on leaps and bounds anyway by then, but a tattooed line will always be a tattooed line?!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. As the only middle child of five sisters, I can identify with your counter-intuitive self-categorization. The first is 22 months older than I am, the third is 28 months younger. The fourth one is 5 years younger than the third, and the fifth is 11 months younger than the fourth. The Birth Order Book says that having children four or more years a part is like starting another family, so we have two First Borns, two Babies, and me — the classic Middle Child. 🙂

    The first three of us experienced a lot of rivalry as kids, but I was always close to the two youngest. Once I hit my twenties, I became closer to the other two also. I guess it’s a matter of maturing and beginning to understand the value of family.

    I’m glad you and your sister can be friends as adults. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a wonderful explanation – love it 🙂 ! So taken as a whole, then, that also makes me a Middle Child 🙂 There I was thinking I was practically a Lonely Only..lol!
      I agree, as you get older, the meaning and value of family certainly becomes clearer too.
      Thank you for reading and your comment 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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