Sociologists say that brothers and sisters grow up in a different families, even if we are only a year apart in age. Family dynamics, they say, can be varied enough to change the environment significantly. A parent might have been working last year who is not working this year. Or a sibling’s illness could have stressed the family’s resources and patience. And the year before your big sister became prom queen is far different from the one during which she wore a rhinestone tiara.

Research is mixed on the effects of birth order. Some studies say the oldest in the family is the smartest, with intelligence dropping from there. Scientists speculate that the effects are broader than this, that the oldest children are healthier because they get the strongest sperm and eggs.

As the youngest of five, I take exception to the intelligence issue. But I do sometimes wonder if birth order was the reason I got cancer when none of my older siblings did.

Other research speculates that babies born in the winter are sicker than their spring and summer counterparts, the thinking being that winter babes are more likely to get germs in utero that bug them their entire lives.

I was born at the last of December.

So, I got the old, buggy eggs.

But never mind. I really love my siblings. What’s more, I like them. So, I am glad none of them got cancer and I hope that trend continues. I am not going to dwell on the issue of whether or not birth order was a reason I got sick and they didn’t. I will not acknowledge that they are smarter than me, though.

I am glad they are in my life and I always have been. They are all smart and seriously funny. I have told my oldest sister that she should be a comedian—she could just tell an audience a story about buying rice at WalMart and have them laughing so hard they cry. My brothers tell stories about growing up that make me realize that they, indeed, grew up in a different family. Sometimes I am surprised they grew up at all, what with diving from cliffs into the river, starting their car in the winter with ether and being knocked out in the process, and speeding through intersections because their car could not stop. They make the stories like a comedy routine, one riffing off the other. My middle sister is more sweet than funny, the caretaker of the family, the one we can count on for prayers and unconditional love.

The photo above is of me and my two brothers. I am nearly 5-foot 10-inches, so you can get an idea of what big guys they are, in stature and in personal strength. You need a video to hear their quips, though.

So, on this gorgeous spring day, with highs in the 70s, I remember that summer day three years ago when I shared a mountain hike with some of my favorite people, my brothers. True blessings in my life, true treasures.

Even if they did get all the good eggs.

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