Friday, June 30, 2006

The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat

WARNING! This is going to be a lengthy post. However, I am not going to be posting for the next few days, so if you are one who enjoys reading something new every day, you may want to break this post up into sections :). As promised in my previous post, I am dedicating this entry to my only sibling, Doug, who is almost 4 years older than me. The reason I am choosing this day to post about my sibling relationship is that tomorrow begins the Sports Hotline Annual Doubles Tennis Tournament here in Marion, and we are playing in the mixed doubles division. For anyone who wants some free entertainment, you can come out and watch us, and you will not be entertained by tennis only. My brother and I, though very close, are also very competitive, and we tend to let our emotions get the best of us when we are playing together. Each time we play in a tournament, I say to myself that this will be the last time I will play with him. But it's kind of like having a baby - during the pain of labor you say you will never go through it again, but when it's all over, the joy the baby brings is worth it all - that's probably a bad analogy, because even though the trophy is nice, it doesn't really compare to a child. What happens is my brother thinks that we can go all year long without playing and then go out and perform like we could in college. So I make a few mistakes, he grumbles at me, I get frustrated and say something smart back, and so on. But it's all good in the end, especially when we win.

I can't believe I got a baby sister!
My brother and I have always been close. Since it was just the two of us, we played quite a bit together, and since he was older, we did what he wanted to do, which was usually play a game. He was pretty amazing at games. He would play basketball by himself, and he would pretend he was both teams, he would keep score, keep a running clock in his head, and provide commentary all at the same time. It was pretty amazing to watch. As soon as I was old enough to learn rules, he had me playing games with him. We made up "Ball and Strike," "Game off the Fence" (both baseball oriented games,) at my Grandma's house we would sit on the front porch and each take colors and mark down the color of cars that would pass by. In the summers, we would keep a running game of UNO to where our points were in the thousands. When I was in fourth grade and he was in seventh grade, we got dirt bikes. Our house was a part of a neighborhood that had roads that would complete a perfect square going 5 blocks down. We would start in our driveway, and he would go one way around the 5 blocks, and I would go the other. We lived on 39th st., and we would always pass on 44th. We would round the corner at the opposite ends of 39th st. - our house was right in the middle. This was a favorite game until we both went full speed into our driveway and met head on. Dad put a stop to that game after that.

One of our many games we played - you get bonus points if you can figure out who the other two kids are.

The older we became, the more our competiveness came out, and the more we played sports against each other and with each other. Our first tennis tournament we played together was when I was 10 and he was 13. We played in the class C (lowest division) division of the Sports Hotline Tournament. We were in the finals against a preacher and a 70+ year old woman. We were winning the match when the preacher got a call regarding an emergency with a family in the church. I felt sorry for the 70+ year old woman, so instead of making them forfeit, we decided to finish the match the next day on our own. To make a long story short, we played with flat balls, the other team came back and won, and my very competitive father was not happy! But it was a learning experience, and we've had many exciting matches since. I remember when I was 17 and he was 20. We played each year in a tournament in Anderson, and we were playing a very competitive husband/wife team. We ended up winning in three sets, and Doug was so emotional after the match (tears were shed) that I had to drive us home (my parents were out of town, so they didn't get to see this one.) The next year, however, we lost to the same couple in the finals in a third set tie-breaker. Heartbreaker. We've played/fought several times since then, and we will give it another go around this weekend. Our sports competitions included much more than tennis. When we were in high school, we would drive out to what is now Rivers Edge in Marion and play miniature golf - loser bought the winner a blizzard. One day on the drive home we almost wrecked because we were arguing over the radio station. We also played countless hours of ping pong on the dining room table with a nerf net (thanks mom for putting up with the noise.) Then there were games of basketball on the indoor rim (there's a permanent dent in that door if it's still in the house) and on the driveway and croquet in the side yard (still a favorite 4th of July game.) There aren't a lot of high schoolers who would hang out with their little sister, but my brother was pretty unique - lucky for me.

The infamous "Game off the Fence" fence. Like the tube socks?

I am really blessed that both of us stayed in the area. We not only live in the same town, our houses are probably 2-3 minutes driving time apart. During the school year, the cousins see each other every day because in order for me to get to work on time, I have to drop Elizabeth off at their house so she can catch the bus. Also, for the past 6 years (it will change this year because Sophia, Doug's youngest, will be going to kindergarten) my mom has watched the non-school aged grandchildren two afternoons a week, so the cousins were together then, too. We are in the same Sunday School class, our families hang out together (like camping this weekend), and once a week my brother and I travel to Ft. Wayne to do our coupon shopping. I know there isn't a lot of uniqueness to having a close sibling relationship, especially with same-sex siblings. But I think the relationship I have with my brother is pretty special, and I am hoping that my girls grow up with that same kind of bond.

For those of you who had previously seen this post, I deleted the last picture because one of my brother's students heard me talking about this post to him and telling him my web address. If you saw the picture, you would understand that he would not want it circulating around his students :).


Blogger Jim and Jaena said...

What memories your post brings back...I know we were part of some of the games when we all were young. Then again, you and Doug got the "athletic genes" so Joel and I were not really in the same league. :)

I do remember Doug's amazing mind for math (yours too, for that matter; but I think we tested him more..."What's 284 plus 563 plus 830?") He always knew the answer: like a human calculator.

Joel and I also fought over the radio in the car...each one insisting on changing it after the other did. One of many things I hope our kids do NOT do - so dangerous!

But to be good friends with a sibling after so many years is, indeed, a blessing. One I just happen to have too! (Love you, Joel!)

July 01, 2006 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


It's a good thing no one was in the computer room when I read this entry because I laughed outloud so much I almost cried! I can still hear you and Doug outside on the drive, his Harry Carey announcer voice probably heard for 2 blocks. Yes, you did have your times on the tennis courts, but thankfully you both persevered. I imagine your children, too, will have more than their experiences--pay back time. Thank goodness, grandparents can sit back and enjoy. :)

July 01, 2006 2:18 PM  
Blogger Hummel Family said...

goodluck today! I can't wait to hear the details of the game.

July 01, 2006 11:22 PM  
Blogger Joel said...

I see from the CT Online that Doug and Deb are in the Mixed A finals this afternoon.

Will they experience the thrill of victory? Or the agony of defeat?? (Cue dramatic organ chord.)

In the best spirit of cousinhood, here's wishing you both the best of luck!

(And thanks for a great post. I'm a lucky, lucky brother myself, so I know where you're coming from.)

July 02, 2006 11:56 AM  
Blogger Kelley said...

Siblings! Aren't they great? I've been blessed with two. One who drove me to the point of distraction and one to team up with against the other! No seriously, I feel very blessed. Jason and I fought like cats and dogs growing up, but there was always a connection and I'm glad to say there still is. He's a wonderful man and a great brother. Andrea is not only my sister, she's a best friend. I couldn't ask for a better, closer sister. Okay, this is making me sappy.

July 03, 2006 12:51 PM  

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