Tea Over the Phone

If my sister Beth calls, I know it’s time to put the kettle on. I know we’ll talk long enough for the orange pekoe tea to steep and for me to drink at least  one cup.

Beth is the type of older sister that paves the way for the younger siblings by doing everything perfectly. You can call it paving the way or  setting us up for failure by instilling unrealistic expectations – it really can go either way. I loved it when I was handed the key to a lab by a professor who had never met me. He knew Beth and figured if I was her sister, I could be trusted with all the expensive equipment in the Science department.  Not so much when I went for a sleepover at Grandma Brown’s house. “If you want to know how to pack a suitcase, you should watch your sister Beth.” The clothes were dirty! Whoever heard of folding dirty clothes? Well, besides, Beth I mean. . .

From Beth’s phone calls, you’d never guess that her life used to be orderly with everything in its place. She laughs now at the days when she thought she had some control over life. For about 5 years, her home was turned upside down by her daughter ’s OCD. Linnea got extremely ill as her OCD turned into an eating disorder. The tension, self doubt, feelings of inadequacy and questioning were all things I wasn’t used to hearing in Beth’s voice. Did she get it from me? Did I parent well enough? Was I too strict? Not strict enough? Is it something I said? Something I didn’t say? Beth would often start the conversation by saying, “Do you want to hear something funny?” and then she’d tell me the story of her day that would have me in tears and it wasn’t funny at all. I guess it was the ‘if you don’t laugh you’ll cry’ thing.

And she still doesn’t think she has life under her control. But she just does the day . . . just that day. She tells me that just because today has been a hard one, it doesn’t mean tomorrow will be. You have to do the next thing and let people change and have hope. She finds hope everywhere. She’s good at noticing little gifts from God in the middle of crazy days. She calls and tells me about those too – the compliment from a stranger in a grocery store, the scholarship working out, the broken car starting, the conversation with a friend that got her laughing. And by the time my tea is cold, I’m usually laughing too. Her laughter is contagious – the laughter of that crazy, wonderful, hopeful sister of mine.


Check out: ThisCollegeGirlVlogs to hear directly from Linnea – the neice I wrote about.  Amazing young lady!!