Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Siblings.

I woke up from a vivid dream this morning. I was talking to my sister, having a rather heated debate about who should do the most to look after Mum. I could see her face, smell the fabric conditioner on her clothes, and watched her large hoop earrings move as she talked. Perhaps not that strange a dream, except for two things.

I don’t have a sister. I am an only child, so no siblings ever featured in my life. And my Mum died in 2012, so caring for her is no longer a consideration.

In the dream, I called my sister ‘Sandy’. I presume that was the familiar name for Sandra, used widely here. But I don’t recall knowing any Sandra that well either. She was also much younger than me, perhaps only forty years old. That would have meant that my Mum would have been at least fifty-five when she was born, so not really possible. Even more so, when you consider that she split with my Dad when she was fifty-two, and never had another man friend. In the dream, I was as I am now, not younger at all.

I have no doubt that many experts could come up with solid explanations for that dream. Even lay people could make a fair guess that I had concerns about the care of my Mum when I was still working, and possibly wished that I had a sister around to take some of that from me. At the time, people often remarked that I had to do it all on my own, as I had no brothers or sisters, though close cousins helped out immeasurably. But I was left confused about why my mind had conjured up this vision of a non-existent younger sister, something I can recall in great detail, down to the clothes she was wearing, and the fact that she had no wedding ring. That made me think about the whole issue of siblings in my life.

I was one of the few kids who was an only child. Every other relative had more than one child, sometimes three or four. I had lots of cousins close by, but I was alone with my parents. This had a huge number of plus points. I got their undivided attention, all the presents and clothes, and they had money to spare to take me on holidays, and other treats. The times I wished for a brother or sister were rare, and soon dismissed. I saw other children arguing with their siblings, fighting with them on occasion, and sometimes even growing to hate their brothers and sisters. They had to wear hand-me-downs if they were the same sex, and use toys almost worn out by the older children. I concluded at an early age that I had been lucky to have escaped all that.

As I grew up, I sometimes envied those with an older brother who looked after them, and looked out for them. Older sisters tended to do their own thing, and younger sisters had to be looked after constantly, so the absence of a sister never concerned me at all. In adult life, I got to see those family units close up, as sisters fell out about the smallest things, and younger brothers never seemed to match up to the older ones. That confirmed my earlier thoughts that I had been lucky.

Now retired, and all that behind me, I no longer think of what it might have been like to have had that sister or brother throughout my life. I have seen that such family gatherings can be incredibly noisy, and usually end in arguments. And that whilst the love might be there, it rarely surfaces for outsiders to see.

I am left wondering about that dream though.
And about Sandra, the sister I never had.

61 thoughts on “Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

  1. An interesting dream, Pete. I think trying to read something into dreams is like finding a needle in a haystack. As far as siblings, while you may see much of the conflict, there is also much that you don’t see. You were a lucky one, and those who have siblings and conflict may feel lucky, too. I so enjoy your Sunday thoughts, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a brother who is 3 years younger than me. It was all out war between us until we were teenagers at which point we became very close. We even both lived in the UK together for 18 months before his visa status forced him to leave. We’ve now lived in different countries for 10 years and neither of us are in the same country as our parents. (He lives in Abu Dhabi). We’re close… but not… same as with my parents. We keep in contact and spend time with each other when we can but we don’t really know the intimate details of each others lives. I am not sure how this will play out when our parents become truly elderly. I think Little O is fairly likely to be an only child. I am almost 38 years old and I have no burning desire to be pregnant again. In the end I think my indecision will probably make the decision for me.

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    1. Sometimes, maybe one child is enough, Abbi. I know I am biased, but it can work out better for many people. I was an only child because my Dad didn’t really want children at all. He told me as much when I was 15, and said that my Mum had ‘caught him out’. After that, he made sure to use contraceptives, so he wouldn’t have any more.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. Fascinating! I am an only child as well, and quite resigned to that, although as I child I always wanted an older brother (I was a big fan of children’s’ books and there were always brothers and sisters galore there), thing that was, of course, impossible (as my life wasn’t a soap opera where everything is possible). I know people who have great relationships with their siblings, and my father came from a large family, but I’ve also known many with problems. For some reason, many of my friends are also only children and we have gone through similar experiences looking after parents, etc., but I still wonder sometimes… I must catch up with your new story. Thanks, Pete!

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    1. On balance, I reckon you are lucky. I think my brain is just too active, and I am unable to switch off. I woke up thinking about something at 03:30 this morning, and couldn’t get back to sleep. It’s not even 7 am, and already feels like a long day.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Most of my dreams are vivid like that, Kim. I can often recall smells, the feel of a fabric, or whether it was a hot or cold day. Perhaps my brain is trying to release everything at once? All that stuff stored up for 66 years. I hope not! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wishful thinking manifested, I guess. Who knows?
    An interesting post. I’ve seen equal shares of tight-knit and distant families.
    I never met my father. I’ve felt sorry for myself at times, but then, I think, if he was a jerk, I’m lucky I didn’t have him my whole life.
    Ignorance is bliss? Yes, I think so.

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  5. A really strange dream, Pete. I rarely remember my dreams. My son is an only child. At one point when he was about five or six he said he wished he had a brother or sister. I pointed out to him that a baby would need a lot of my time and attention and when it got older he’d have to share his toys. He looked at me in horror and said: “I don’t want a baby brother. I want a big brother.”

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  6. I suppose, Pete, that you just get used to what you have. I have three wonderful sisters and can’t imagine life without them. I am the oldest. The second oldest is pregnant now and is having her baby in December. You just can’t imagine the fun the rest of us are having buying things for this baby and planning her baby shower.

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  7. I remember some of my dreams, and many of them are quite strange, and sometimes tedious. Did Sandy look anything like Olivia Newton-John? If so, I’d like to grease my hair up a bit, and come meet your sister in the next dream in which she appears.

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  8. I have the most vivid and unrealistic dreams too Pete, I have given up trying to work out any logical meaning. I understand what you are saying about noisy families. I find my own daughter’s family hard work nowadays as the grandkids are so loud and vocal and argumentative. Though I still believe an only child misses out. No-one to play Monopoly with πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was a monopoly maniac at one time. But it was when I was older, so could play it with friends. They went home after, and I didn’t have to put up with them living in the house. πŸ™‚
      The noise of my current extended family in the same room together has to be heard to be believed.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. That is a vivid dream and hard to explain, assuming there were no lost babies or siblings secretly given away. Perhaps for a brief moment you had contact with a parallel universe? Our lives could go in many different ways at every point. I’m glad you were happy to be an only child, because there seems to be a trend for singletons, with older parents and difficulty finding housing etc. If asked I would always say have more than one, I wouldn’t want my child to be alone in the world later on, but who am I to judge? One branch of my family are having counselling and not talking to each other! My mother lost twins, but struggled on to have my brother and sister for my benefit and I’m glad she did. We have three and two pairs of grandchildren, seeing them play together makes me feel sorry for singletons, but I do remember how my little brother was the most annoying person on earth…

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  10. I’m close to my brother, he is a dear friend to me. He is 17 months younger and had been a twin to another brother who died in infancy. My son is an only child and does not seem to suffer from it, though he has a half-sister to whom he seems close. No idea why I said all of that. You seem quite happy in your life!

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  11. On my mother’s side of the family all her siblings had only one child….I do not think I ever wondered about a bro or sis….but during Xmas I thought it would be nice so I could more gifts…..selfish little shit that I was in those days chuq

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  12. I wish I remembered more of my dreams, they fade too quickly when I wake up! I’m an only child too, I never missed having siblings, but would have liked some kind of family as I got older! At least I get to share Phil’s sisters who are lovely.

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  13. I believe the jury is still out on the purpose of dreams, never mind their meaning. It might be something to do with the reinforcement of memory. They say that the innocent don’t recall their dreams in the morning, it’s a private viewing for the subconscious in sleep. πŸ™‚

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      1. I’ve only had one recurring and disturbing dream, that I have to sit an important exam at college. I wake convinced this is true, even though I finished college decades ago. It’s an immense relief when I know it’s not true. I have no idea what it’s about either.

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