Guest Post – Anne Taylor, my sister…

My sister Anne is five years older than me. She’s the eldest in the family, I’m the second eldest.

For as long as I can remember, we’ve always fought.

Don’t ask me why – we just have.

You’d think that as we got older, we’d have grown out of it. We would have mellowed. But no – if anything, our animosity towards each other only deepened.

It came to a head a couple of years ago, during the massive floods that swamped Brisbane. I was in India at the time, and I didn’t get in touch with her, not knowing she had a rental property that was under threat.

She thought I was uncaring. I thought she was hysterical. It opened up old wounds that went back thirty or forty years. Fifty years probably.

We made our peace, kind of, but there was still a residue of acrimony. Something that sat deep within both of us. Something that wouldn’t be shifted with easy apologies and kissy kissy make-ups. I felt we’d both probably take our enmity to our graves.

And then I walked the Camino.
And my sister began reading my blog.
And something quite miraculous happened –
We became friends.

All the anger and bitterness that we’d both harboured towards each other dissolved. It just disappeared. She saw another side of me, and I realised it was meaningless to hang onto old energies that were hurtful to both of us.

Then she read my book, and it only amplified her feelings towards me. She saw how the Camino had whittled me down to a half decent human being.

Anne wrote me a lovely email yesterday, congratulating me on the book, and saying some things that I thought could make for a very poignant post on this blog.

So Anne, sister, big sister –

I’m sorry,
I love you,
Please forgive me,
Thank you.

Anne Taylor’s Guest Post

Hi Bill,

Congratulations on your wonderful Camino blogs and your book. 

Reading them all, I felt that I got to know the person I grew up with, but yet never really knew at the time.  We both know that there were tensions between us, but I don’t wish to talk about the past. 

Instead, I’d like to express my gratitude for what you have done for me – and us – by walking the Camino and revealing the changes in you as you progressed. 

As you gradually displayed your new, softer, kinder self and your new humility I realised that here was a person I’d really like to know and spend time with. 

As you cast off your old layers (you know the ones!), so did I.   Your book and blogs made me laugh aloud on almost every page (it was very funny), marvel at your tenacity and shed tears towards the end as I saw how deeply you cared about your fellow-pilgrims. 

The symbolism of the towel was extremely moving.  The Meseta section in particular really resonated with me, because that’s where I experienced the death of my old attitudes towards you.

Your journey has had a profound flow-on effect on me, and then you, that neither of us would ever have dreamed would happen.  It was totally out of left-field!  I call it a magical effect: 

I’ve connected with my brother after all these years.  So thank you Bill, and thank you Camino.

With Sincere Love,
Your sister,
Anne 

Anne Tas copy  

25 thoughts on “Guest Post – Anne Taylor, my sister…

  1. Bill,

    We are both witness to Camino miracles!

    This is so beautiful and touching. Bless you and your sister Anne. Good things come to good people, and isn’t this proof?

    Arlene

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  2. I have a great relationship with my two sisters, but my three children couldn’t care less about each other. One of my big regrets of life. Maybe someday.

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    • Dear Bill, Anne and Steve, I was one of 4 children; very self sufficient and very much ‘different’ to my siblings, one of whom in particular I felt very estranged from from a very early age. He and I finally connected and very closely in our twenties and through that closeness he made me (really pushed me!) to connect with our oldest brother, who in my view was an uncaring, arrogant bastard who had nothing to offer me, and who deliberately had shut himself off with his little family (wife and 3 children) from us, his wider birth family. Through that push I finally re-connected with him about 10 years ago to find that through quite heavy life-changing events (he separated and then divorced and to some extent lost close touch with 2 of his 3 children) he’s found – as he called it – humility and has turned out to be a lovely, caring person, who I was happy, delighted even, to call my brother. Unfortunately, through that process I fell, irrevocably, out of favour and touch with my other brother, who died about 18 months ago, with us still being relative strangers. Life and family have amazing twists and turns and we just have to learn to dance along and live with them all as well as we can. Don’t forget, but try to forgive 🙂

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  3. Bill: I am so very happy for both you and your sister. The Camino seems to work miracles even for those who have not set foot on it! Out of curiosity, has your journey incited any interest by your sister in walking the Camino? Julie

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  4. Just like Arlene’s post yesterday, this is a story of hope. Steve, is there something in it for you? Is it so late that you have to live with regret for the rest of your life or is there something you could still do? (I don’t know your situation, but I feel for you – regret is a heavy burden to carry. Can you get alongside your kids and show them that YOU care? Love overcomes.)

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  5. Bill and Anne, I can’t really say anything from personal experience, because I am an only child. So btw is my husband. As a teenager growing up I always wished for an older brother, because I saw the freedom my girlfriends had with having an older brother, being able to go to parties earlier and hanging out with the “boys”. Myself, I was very cloistered in comparison, which created for some very resentful teenage years. Now of course that I have a better understanding why, I know my parents just wanted me not to get ridiculed and hurt… and I have made peace with this.

    I have 2 children, a daughter and a son, in that order and they are like night and day. Even as young children, they just did not click. There is a certain courtesy that they show each other, now that they are grown, but they are not “siblings” nor are they friends.

    As a parent, this is very disheartening, since my decision to have 2 children was born out of the loneliness I experienced as a single child. I know in a pinch, they are there for each other, but it is not what I thought a sister/brother relationship ought to be.

    Reading all the postings, is discouraging and encouraging at the same time. Maybe they too, one day, will learn to accept each other and have a more loving relationship.

    I am so glad that you two have been able to grow closer. Light and Love Ingrid

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    • Hi Ingrid –

      Thank you for your comment.

      The thing I’ve learnt as a patent, with children, is that if there is a deep seated antipathy between any of your children, there’s very little you can do about it.

      They have to work it out themselves.

      The other thing I’ve learnt, and this is a biggie – kids don’t learn by you teaching or telling them, they learn by watching what you do, and hearing what you say to others. They learn by example.

      Which means you have to live your life according to how you want your kids to grow up.

      Bill

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      • I agree with you entirely, but then it still is no guarantee. Not to absolve me of responsibility, they grew up with a mother who is a perpetual victim and drama queen and blamed everyone else for whatever she thought was wrong. I have never heard the woman admit wrong doing or say the words, “I am wrong”. Never. At times she ostracized herself and the kids from either her mother, or my parents. They learned that such behavior was acceptable. To this day, 15 years after divorce, she can’t say enough bad about me, to the kids if they speak to her, or to anyone else who will listen. It was that way in most of the last half of our marriage of 33 years. She is a lonely, toxic person that is in constant conflict with one of the two children who speak to her. It is a sight sight to behold, and for my part, I stay as far away from any of it that I can while still maintaining a relationship with the two children who speak to me. I have no idea why the third one does not, but have chosen to accept it as his prerogative and I can’t change anything about how he thinks or what he thinks. I have never heard him say that he was wrong either. Very contentious and very litigious.

        Before long you will know all there is to know about my family. 🙂 or 😦

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      • I hear you Bill, if one has little extended family around you, i.e. cousins etc, they don’t even have a measure of that, but what little “family” was around them, was not an example of how they choose to live their life now. All you can do as a parent is use the tools you have and love them. Your comment about “you have to live your life according to how you want your kids to grow up” is a little bit a blow below the belt. . If that were always entirely true, they would be the best of friends. Me thinks you need another cup of coffee

        They are both, wonderful people, just have no desire to be around each other. It is not how I thought it would be and I guess the saying “family you are born into, friends you choose”. My fondest wish as a mother of course is that they would be friends too.

        Ingrid

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        • Hi Ingrid –

          I wasn’t talking about you when I said “…you have to live your life according to how you want your kids to grow up.” I said “the thing I’ve learnt as a parent is”

          In other words, I’m only talking from my personal experience – which is how I always try to approach things on this blog. I can only ever speak for myself, what mistakes I’ve made, what I’ve learnt. I would never try and tell other people how to live their lives.

          So I’m sorry if you felt that the comment was directed towards you, because it wasn’t.

          Bill

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