On My Sister Krissy’s Birthday: The Joys of Family

Today is the day, my youngest sister Kristin’s birthday. She will be 59! Which means she is coming into her second Saturn return in 2018! And which means, as she says, “You guys are really old.”

I called her at 9:15 A.M. EDT, my time. I knew she’d be up early, and probably already hard at work, in downtown Seattle for the Archdiocese, where she has recently been placed in charge of, as I recall, Administration for Catholic Education in the entire Northwest! Here’s a pic, on her fb page. Body language in proper executive listening pose . . . But the look on her face. Hmmm . . .  Is she wondering? Nonplussed?

In any case, yes, little Krissy grew up to become a mighty, behind-the-scenes force in the Roman Catholic world we were born into. And we can be glad for that. Because she brings an enlightened consciousness to everything she touches. Indeed, as the first and last of a brood of eight, the two of us are consistently amazed at how “similar” are our collective concerns, despite the very different roads we have traveled.

She’s burrowed deep inside the prevailing culture, her curious, data-absorbent Gemini self (coupled with a diplomatic Libra Moon) working as a hidden, subtle, step-by-tiny-step revolutionary — and who, in actual fact, loves being a mover and shaker (Venus/Mars and Uranus in Leo!). In contrast, I, as her “big sis” (though over a foot shorter) have, these last 40 years, ridden the edge of culture like the double Sagittarian swashbuckler that I am,  a much more in-your-face, go-for-broke obvious revolutionary, now here in Green Acres Village and on this blog and others. And yet, our concerns are so similar as to feel like two poles of one continuum, namely: How do we inculcate a higher/deeper level of genuine, soul-centered connectedness, within ourselves, in relations with others, and especially, throughout society? I.e.,, what kinds of facts (Gemini) do we pay attention to in order to help generate alternative perspectives (Sagittarius). And, for each of us, both also with powerful, practical, serious Saturns, that means: what specific “projects” are we  now working on to help bring the greater shift about?

In this context, it’s interesting to note that, despite our 16 year age difference, she and I were born only three days from being exactly opposite each other in the zodiac (my birthday is December 19, hers June 16); so this feeling of working/valuing both ends of a single continuum makes sense.

So it is that our various experiments to transform cultural understanding have naturally been the continuing focus of our rare, but running conversations throughout the decades, especially on our birthdays, when we siblings all call or email or send cards to each other. My call to each one consists, first, of my signature loud, fake, discordant, operatic version of the birthday song, wildly divergent each time. My seven sisters and brothers, and my two kids and two grandkids, and close friends here and afar, all know that they must either back away or hold the phone far from their ear if they do not wish to be assaulted by “the (very special) song.”

So of course, early this morning, already at work at the Archdiocese, Kris was eagerly(?) awaiting my phone call.

And so, of course, after her very special ear-splitting Happy Birthday rendition, as usual we started talking, both of us noticing how grateful we are now, to be members of a large adult sibling family, all of whom are still connected. In fact, we’re all gathering in Anchorage in August, to stay in a gigantic short-term rental with assorted kids and grandkids, for a week that includes another family wedding, this one for daughter Hannah of brother John.

I mention my great fortune to be a member of a vital, intact, connected family dynamic, because just other day a young man stood staring at old photos of my family on the refrigerator door.

“Which one is you?” he asked.

“The one on the right. I like this shot because it makes me look tall, and actually, though I’m the oldest, I’m also by far the shortest now that we’re adults.”

I had never met this young man before. He is beautiful, and warm and genuine — and, tells me he’s also the oldest of a large family (seven)!

But the similarity ends there.

Unlike my extraordinary social privilege as the child of a respected physician in small town Idaho, my young friend’s mother was already a drug addict in Indianapolis when he was born; her seven kids, mostly from different fathers, were farmed out to various and changing foster and group homes, scattered while young. “My mother, still drug-addicted, is currently on the streets, homeless. And,” he says, in a low voice filled with muted feeling, “I’m just beginning to recognize that I can’t save her.”

Once again, as with yesterday’s post, I focus on the extraordinary contrasts in our human world, and in this case, how circumstances shape us — or not! For despite his background, I am astonished at this young man’s authenticity, his resilience, his philosophy of life, his compassion for his mother, even at the young age of 25! He who was shuttled from one foster or group home to another; he who has lost track, mostly, of his siblings (one has already died); he who as a matter of principle does not own a car but cycles everywhere he needs to go; he who resonates on a deep inner level with the culture we are co-creating in the Green Acres Village.

I ask him, was there anyone whom you could count on when young? Someone who loved you unconditionally? “Yes, my grandmother. She was, and is, my rock.” Thank goodness for the grandmothers of this world who are so often called upon to serve in this manner, whose family love can balance even the worst of circumstances! Through the decades, I’ve known many people for whom this was the case; their family life hell, except for one person, usually the grandmother, she whom they could go to for solace, to bury their poor heads in her lap.

So I look again at my own life. Privilege, yes. On a social and personal level. Such contrast! On the material plane we had everything we needed. Our parents provided structure and the means for us to go to college debt-free and proceed on out into life. And yet, neither of my (German) parents was demonstrably warm, at least to me. And grandparents lived far away. I did not feel “unconditional love.” I felt duty-bound to be the model eldest child; to obey, achieve, excel, just as they did, in their unstated roles: him on the outside, as the breadwinner, her on the inside, organizing the household. Jobs they both did very well.

In my case, after an early lifetime of such achievement (Co-Valedictorian of high school class, B.A. Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and, by the skin of my teeth, Ph.D. in Philosophy), I found myself waking up, as if from a dream. And in doing so, except for my teacher, a renegade professor who honored my process even though he didn’t understand it (and for that I will never cease to thank him!), I was all alone.

There I was, nearly 50 years ago the same age as my new young friend now, and I was puncturing through the illusions I had been taught, seeing through to the way the world actually works, and especially, to the way I had been conditioned from a young age to think only certain kinds of thoughts. I assign no blame here: those who conditioned me (parents, teachers, society in general) did not know what they were doing; they too, were conditioned. I identify strongly with my generation, those born during and after World War II, who began to wake up in our teens and twenties in the fabled ’60s, when Uranus conjuncted Pluto for the first time since the Civil War and sent the placid ’50s world spinning out of control. We were the consciousness pioneers, paradigm busters, instigating all those years ago what might still prove to be a profound shift in the way the human world thinks and acts.

At least that’s what we’re still counting on. And we are, each of us who are still awake (who didn’t succumb to either this culture’s alluring, empty distractions or to the downhill descent into drugs, alcohol, despair and/or illness); yes, we elders — mostly old hippies — who are still physically and mentally and emotionally fit (and what percentage is that? 2%? So many of my peers are already dead or decrepit), we are intensely aware that as souls we came to this Earth in this life to accomplish an enormous task. That we must turn around the humungous Titanic of western industrial civilization before it succeeds in destroying the biosphere. And we are intensely aware that this gigantic task will require all of us, all generations now alive. That though we as elders may individually share our wisdom born from long experience, for each of us, of any age, the stark choice is not just Chaos or Creation, but Co-Creation. We’re in this together; each of us allowing all our gifts and talents to surface and express, all of us open-sourcing everything. The way nature herself does it. Yes. More and more without money — beyond money, below money. Money is not the answer. Money — especially fiat money — is an artificial scrim that lies on top of Nature. Instead of paying attention to Nature — and what she has to teach us, how she can and does nurture us, how as we destroy her we destroy ourselves! — our civilization pays attention to Money! Money! Hard to believe we allowed ourselves to get so out of whack so long ago.

I now feel graced to be present with so many beautiful young people in their 20s, wonderful beings who could be my grandchildren; they were born into the massive, accelerating, debilitating consequences of what I, and other pioneers back then, began to wake up to — the immense and growing injustice in this world run by psychopaths that fuels continuous wars and mayhem to funnel economic wealth up to what, since Occupy in 2011,  we now call “the 1%.” Or the .01%.Or the .001%.

More and more, due to the internet and the remarkable rise of whistleblowers and citizen journalists, the systemic corruption of all that we hold dear as ensouled humans is becoming more and more blatantly obvious. I am so grateful for that, for the apocalypse, this unveiling. BTW: If you haven’t yet paid attention to financial whistleblower Ronald Bernard’s extraordinarily articulate rendition of how the fiat-money hierarchy works, please do. Two posts so far: here and here.

And then pay attention to your own body. Its miraculous nature. How, your body, i.e., your very own portion of Earth’s body knows how to heal wounds, all by itself, if you allow and nurture it, from the inside out. How it tells you when it’s uncomfortable, and needs attention. How it grows rigid and tense and/or flaccid and ponderous from disuse and denial; how its symptoms are symbols — acting out in the physical what’s happening on a spiritual level. In general, except for inherited karmic conditions, whatever dis-ease we evince on the physical in this life originates in the spiritual, and funnels down, into the material, the physical body. Heal the spirit, and the body naturally follows. I realized this in the hospital, when I was 26 years old and almost died. Until that huge internal voice filled the room and challenged me: “LIVE OR DIE. IT’S YOUR CHOICE!”

Obviously, I chose to live. And I continue to choose to live, every single day, every single minute, with every single breath. I choose to give to this suffering world all of who I am and am becoming.

The joys of family are not just confined to my family. They spread to include the entire human family and beyond. All the duty-bound, rich doctors intermingling with all the drug-addicted  homeless mothers and their various intact and scattered families. No matter who we are, no matter what our circumstances, we are here all together to wake up, take action, and change the world: TO CO-CREATE THE NEW WORLD. Or to die trying.

But let’s not get too serious, eh? Here’s another photo from my refrigerator door.



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3 Responses to On My Sister Krissy’s Birthday: The Joys of Family

  1. rose day says:

    Old photos really are so much more than personal trips down memory lane and actually are testimony to the sameness of expectations within social strata throughout history…just imagine the number of people of a certain age and reared in middle and upper/middle class environs (of the past) who are in possession of the candid family photo in which siblings are attired in identical clothing regardless of age or personal preference.

    In ‘reading’ the photo, the look on the face of ‘Daughter of Honor’ (First Communion in de rigueur all-white…yes?) is priceless!

    My comments are not offered in jest…merely as observation when one considers how ‘ritual’ occasions even today still feature the old modes but all bets are off regarding dress codes for ‘regular’ attendance in today’s world…yet another in the list of cultural transitions, most of which have been forward facing, that have marked this past half-century plus.

    Every epoch features defining customs, many of which often seem endearing in hindsight and if pundits are correct, it seems we may presently be in for Transition in warp speed.

    • Ann Kreilkamp says:

      Oh wow yes, I am so used to photos of us in those identical dresses that I forgot why, so didn’t notice this amazing detail in the photo! The dresses are something Mom wanted for us, as the Kreilkamp Quartet (I called us the Lemon Sisters, an ironic reference to the Lennon Sisters, if you recall them from that TV show, what was its name?) As the Kreilkamp Quartet, the four eldest sisters did four-part harmony to songs like Ave Maria, Here we Have Idaho (state song), Hi Lily Hi Lily Hi Lo (remember that?) I hated the identical dresses, as I hated being compared to anyone. Wanted, even then, to be a unique individual, though still obedient and “perfect.” Big contradiction inside me at the time, I realize now.

  2. rose day says:

    Ann, your parents produced exceptionally beautiful children and your mother surely took great delight in sharing her creations.

    Each generation uses the ‘tools of the time’ and we continue to barrel forward…the old ‘two steps forward; one step back’ adage. That one step back may be a ‘lesson in patience’ and that one step forward seems key in our evolution. Here’s to compassion for all…we are works in progress.

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