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Storm: The sibling effect: Childhood influences linger

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Janet Storm

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Another Marvel superhero movie opened this weekend, and as usual, I was among the fans packing local theaters.

I love superhero films, an affection rooted firmly in my love of comic books, which in turn can be traced to my older brother, Rob.

Rob is a comic book connoisseur. He started collecting when he was 8 or 9 years old, traveling to a local newsstand every week to pick up the latest edition of his favorites. He wasn’t the sort to wrap his comics in plastic and preserve them — he stored them in his room in paper grocery bags, digging through the stacks to reread his favorites and often leaving them in piles around the house.

Seeing their colorful covers sparked my imagination, and I used to pick them up to read when I found them on a coffee table or on the couch in the living room. I fell in love with the stories and characters, and Rob and I have had many conversations about superheroes since, always delighted with this shared interest.

I’ve been thinking lately about the people who have influenced my life most, and although the list began with my parents and also included friends, teachers, bosses and coworkers, I have to admit that in many ways my siblings have had the greatest effect.

My oldest sister, Cathy, has always had a deep love and compassion for animals. She has rescued countless cats through the years, and was a strong supporter when I told her I wanted to rescue a little shelter dog named Clifford. Sixteen years later, after Clifford departed for the rainbow bridge, Cathy was delighted when I rescued two more little dogs.

“You’ll never be sorry you saved a life,” she told me. She was certainly right about that.

Both Cathy and Rob had a profound influence on my musical tastes. Rob introduced me to Elvis Costello, Graham Parker and Ian Hunter. Cathy loves the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie. I adore all these acts, and have my siblings to thank for weaning me away from more questionable favorites — such as Wham and Tears for Fears.

My younger sister, Nancy, influenced my and other ways. Always fearless, she pushed me to apply for jobs out of my home state of Michigan, to voice my opinions to people who intimidated me and to travel to spots I never dreamed I would visit. Her devotion to her family made me more appreciative of mine, and oddly enough, her hearing impairment finally encouraged me to get a phone that allowed me to text.

All my siblings love reading, so many books have been passed between us. Cathy has given me more baking tips that I can count, Nancy and I discuss musical theater and Rob recommends the best sci-fi films.

Other people have provided me with great lessons, but when I examine the things that bring me the greatest joy in life I can trace a direct line back to at least one of my siblings. 

Who would have thought that the people I grew up squabbling with would give my such gifts?

The truth is, they’re my superheroes.

Contact Janet Storm at jstorm@reflector.com or 252-329-9587.

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