National Sibling Day – A Lonely Day for the Only Child

Pegg & Barb Christmas 1954It is, according to Facebook, National Sibling Day.  I have seen a steady stream of pictures of my friends with their siblings.  A little envy welled up in my “Only Child” eyes.

As it turns out, my Dad didn’t have siblings either.  That meant we grew up without anyone to be close to except friends and cousins.  Both my Dad and I were unusually close to cousins. I grew up knowing all my cousins, all his cousins and all my mother’s cousins too.  They were always very special people in my life…and still are.

This picture is of my cousin Barb McConachie Stetson and I was taken when we were two.  The dolls were a gift from our Uncle Keith and his wife Nancy.  Barb died a few years back and I miss her terribly.  I make an effort to keep in touch with some of the other ” McCousins” (The name of our FB group) though it becomes more difficult as the years go by.  With the passing of our last grandparent about four years ago there isn’t the same commitment to the Christmas get together.  I still keep in touch with some of my Dad’s cousins too and count Cari (another only child) as a treasure in my collection of second cousins.

I was also blessed with some wonderful childhood friends who hold a special place too but the closest of those have also passed on.  I get together with friends from  public school once a year and some high school friends have sporadic gatherings through the year.  That is time I cherish.

Cousins are almost as good as siblings because there are times you don’t get along but still have to be in the same places as children.  You often get into the same trouble and get to wear the same clothes, depending where you are in the hand me down line.  Barb and I were only four months apart and were the two oldest girls so our hand me downs came from outside the family circle.

Now as aging adults, my cousins and I, do make a little more effort to get together though Jim’s taking me out for my birthday in May last year didn’t actually happen until December this year.  Some of us get together at Christmas if we can but illness kept me home this year.  All of them have siblings so sometimes they forget I’m on the outside of it all.

I think I miss having a brother or sister more now as an adult than I ever did as a child.  That sense of shared history and silent understanding that travels between siblings, is something I have never known.  As the only child to bury both of my parents I felt a huge loneliness.  Even the happy days like weddings, special birthdays and the arrival of grandchildren seem to be more special when they are shared with siblings.

Some brothers and sisters fight their whole lives and that breaks my heart.  I’m sure they may have good reason some of the time but if it’s just sibling rivalry they should be getting over it by about 21.  If Mom and Dad had favourites, that was their issue.

If you haven’t reached out to your siblings today, please do.  They are one of life’s greatest gifts.

Think I might send a quick note to a couple of cousins.


About Peggy Guiler

You just never know what show up on my blog. As the name implies it is about the stuff of life just like Spilt Milk. Everyday events spark thought and contemplation. Special events in the community, the country or the world may strike a cord and get me talking. Sometimes it's about people in my life or circumstances, sometimes about my garden, sometimes about a book or a political issue. Always it's about something I am passionate about. In my business, River of Hope Enterprises (, I work as an "Certified Coach" (International Coach Federation), a trainer, consultant and speaker. and as a spiritual director. I also drive a school bus to keep the wolf from the door while I build my business. I love the kids on the bus (most of the time). My family is grown and I have three grandkids who thrill my heart but I don't get to see any of them very often. Circumstances of life have made "family" difficult. My son died by suicide at age 16 in 2000 and the strain on our family relationships since has been huge. Mental health is a field where I worked for almost 22 years and where I still do some consulting and training. That combined with my own battle with depression and my son's death weave together to form some of my greatest soap box items: suicide intervention, suicide bereavement and peer support in mental health are right on the top of my list. Social justice is an underlying passion. Keeping the wolf from the door as a single parent was full-time work and my career path as a journalists was augmented with cleaning contracts, cooking, retail clerk, and bartending. I have known hard work and am grateful for the experience and perspective it has given me. A firmly grounded faith and a passion for learning has now taken me toward a new field as a Spiritual Director and I am soon adding to that a license to marry people. As I move toward retirement I am very aware that I have to keep working so I chose to do things which will meet my modest financial needs and also my love of supporting people in their life journey. Woven into all of this is my love of writing. Trained as a Journalist, and having worked in the field as a freelance news writer for many years, I have a great love for writing. This blog is a new beginning for me. As I hone my skills and begin to form a daily discipline of writing I hope it will lead to more writing in the future.
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