One of the results of growing up in a nomadic RAF family is that we're now spread all over, many miles between us. My parents and two of my sisters live just outside of Toronto, Canada, though the one sister spends half her year in England. I haven't seen them in four years. My brother lives down in L.A. and we haven't seen each other in ten years. Another sister (the closest to my age) lives in the southwest of France. We haven't been together in eighteen years.
Being the youngest, I bounced back and forth between living as an only child when my siblings were off at boarding school, and living in a rowdy pack of five during the summer and Christmas holidays.
Anyone who is the youngest in a family knows what it is to feel not old enough, or cool enough to be able to go on an adventure with the big kids. It seems to take a long time for ranks to even-out, especially when you leave the family at sixteen. It took a number of years to find myself...and a number more to discover that life had to be processed back at the family table.
Middle-age is the great equalizer.
Nearly four years ago, my two eldest sisters sent me a roundtrip ticket to Toronto as a birthday gift. During that visit with them and my parents, there was a magic day I'll never forget. We three sisters went for an adventure in Claireville Park, very close to the YYZ airport. We talked as we walked through the woods in autumn, kicking yellow leaves and pointing out the different birds to each other. Then they led me to their special place in the park.
Two straight rows of evergreens had been planted, one each side of the trail. As the trees grew taller their branches began to meet and make a welcoming, living, magic tunnel. Both sisters watched, smiling, as I began to understand their gift. In silence we watched the way shadow and light played through the trees and on each other's faces, as we slowly passed through.
My sisters tell me that they always see me when they walk in Claireville now. I love to think of them there. If I look at this photo my sister B. took, I can see them and feel closer than we've ever been, despite the miles.
Photo © 2002 B. Glancey