August 2, 2016
For the better half of my childhood I just plodded along in life assuming I was adopted. Partly this was because my older sister, Michele, used to tell my gullible 5-year-old self that my parents found me on a street corner. Even well into elementary school, when she was old enough to babysit me and there was another, even younger, sister around, Michele would insist my parents were not really at the movies. Rather, they were out looking for my birth parents so they could send me back. Heather, the youngest, was never baited to believe this. I was old enough to vouch for her birth and Michele knew it would have been game over if I caught her trying to fool Heather into the same storyline. Years later I learned Michele tricked me into believing I was found on a street corner as a way to keep me from eating all the Oreos. Somehow, it worked out in her mind if I was busy fretting over being rehomed, there would be more cookies for her.
Even after my parents discovered her ploy and assured me I was their "real" child, part of me always suspected there might be some truth to her claim. It's hard to imagine I share DNA with either of my sisters. It goes beyond middle child syndrome. I'm not just a black sheep. It's like I'm a black sheep, but the other two are goats. If not for the fact that strangers still ask my mom, "How did you manage triplets?" when they see the three of us together, I would nearly insist we are not related.
I've been spending more time in Nebraska with my family lately. My sister Heather has been battling brain cancer for eight years and her tumors are aggressively growing. Perhaps being confronted with my younger sister's mortality has made me further examine each of our roles in our family. My sisters and I all have uniquely different approaches to life. So different, it's impossible to understand how we could have all been raised by the same two people, in pretty much the same way, just a few years apart.
If my mother were to ask us what we wanted to do on any given Saturday, these would be each of our answers in order of our birth:
"We are going to get pedicures."
"I was just going to take a walk, then read my book."
"I think you should take me shopping for a new dress."
I read once in an article about birth order that oldest children tend to be rule-seeking and neurotic. They always want to be in charge and control things. Middle children tend to be very creative, independent, rebellious, flexible and can be loners. And the last born tends to get showered with love, affection and adoration. They are spoiled, laidback and selfish. Basically, the oldest child gets all the power, the youngest gets all the love, and the middle child gets nothing. Which pretty much sums up my family dynamic.
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This weekend, Michele and I took Heather to a concert. She's not exactly mobile anymore, so this is not an easy feat. On our way back, while stopped at a red light, we noticed a car pulled over to the side of the road. We watched as a woman climbed out of the driver's side, walked over to the passenger side, and began pummeling the guy sitting there.
In her quest for law and order, Michele decided this was clearly against the rules and she must fix it. So she used the emergency call button in her car and we were soon connected with a 911 operator. I rolled my eyes; Heather shook her head. Michele insisted this was her civic duty. She explained what she saw and the operator asked, "Why didn't you stop to help him?"
Here are the answers in reverse birth order:
"We've got bigger problems."
"He probably deserved it."
"Sorry, my sister's aren't Good Samaritans."
As the light turned green and we drove off, I wondered (not for the last time, I'm sure) how I share any genetic makeup with my sisters. Perhaps someone should tell my parents they have at least two adopted daughters.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident, and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.