Have you seen those t-shirts usually spotted on toddler girls that say, “I’m the big sister!”? I could have used one of those at my brother’s wedding.

The program was kind enough to identify the people in the wedding as Friend of the Bride or Friend of the Groom or in my case Sister of the Groom. (It identified the husband only as Brother-in-law which makes me think that neither family really wanted to claim him).

The fact that there was a Sister of the Groom apparently came as a bit of a shock to some people. Some people did not in fact wish to alter their worldview to have it include a Sister of the Groom. A bit of background may explain this. My brother is the media director at a large church. Prior to being hired there he was a volunteer in the media department while he was on breaks from film school. This made him well known in the church. His constant recruitment of my parents as slave labor for him has made them well-known. They started attending this church when I was in vet school. I made sporadic visits on vacations. I never attended this church regularly. So, therefore, in the eyes of this church my parents obviously had one child.

So I’m starting off down the aisle trying not to flinch at the idea of all those people staring at me directly or at my image on the JumboTron. (Full multi-media wedding). Loudly from the left side of the church comes a voice that thinks it is whispering, “That’s the sister!” What do you think then? Can’t really stop and answer. Do I need a DNA test for verification? My mind was spinning but my face was staying oh so sedate when another voice answers, “Oh. She’s pretty.” Whew! I felt better then knowing that I passed approval.

The receiving line had more of the same. Several rounds of, “Are you the sister?” insued. The only answer to that is yes and then the conversation pretty much dies. One person made a beeline for me and asked accusingly, “Are you the sister?”

By now I know the drill and say yes. She says testily, “I didn’t know he had a sister.”

I responded, “I didn’t know (the SIL) existed.” True story. Known the family for years. Socialized with them for years. Never heard tell of the girl child. Either she was locked in a closet or she was planted by higher beings just like Dawn on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The lady glares at me and says, “You brother is an interesting person.” In this context “interesting” seems to be synonomous with “serial killer.” Then she storms away yelling, “But I’m not telling you anything you probably don’t already know” over her shoulder.

I have no idea what my brother ever did to this woman because I never saw her again to point her out to someone in the know. I hope whatever he did was good because she deserved it.


  • Leslie

    My brother is a fairly well-known bluegrass musician; I was a quiet teen and moved away not long after high school. I moved back home 14 years ago and have been pretty visible since. Doesn’t matter where we are, whether my brother is there or not or even if he’s been mentioned; if my parent’s introduce me as their daughter, invariably the response is, “I didn’t know Sammy had a sister.”

  • Jeanne

    I attended a 50th aniversary/family reunion event this past weekend and was introduced all weekend as “Oh, that’s Bob’s daughter.” Being referred to (repeatedly) in the abstract like that kinda makes you feel like you’re not real, doesn’t it?

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