April 10, 2016 was National Siblings Day. I have two brothers and one sister who have been with me through good times, bad times and everything in between. They are the first ones I call to celebrate achievements and milestone. In times of decision, they are there to offer their support and guidance. In moments of sadness, I feel their presence in silent communion. They have been with me for my whole journey and will be with me as we move ever forward.
By happy coincidence, April 10th was the day that I finished, “Wait for Me! Memoirs of the Youngest Mitford Sister” by Deborah Devonshire. It was the title “Wait for Me” that spoke to me, for it brought back memories of my own childhood. And I was intrigued by the grand age at which Debo (that’s her familiar name) penned her memoirs. A lot of things happen in 90 years. While it is not my usual reading material, I appreciated viewing the 20th century through Deborah Mitford’s reflections.
There were seven siblings, born into a “minor aristocratic” family. That is the only time I would consider this family as “minor.” These siblings lived passionately and, in many respects, recklessly for their decisions brought them controversy and well as notoriety: Nancy, the oldest, was a writer who loved and lost. Next came Pamela, who enjoyed country life. Tom, the only boy of the family, died as a solder in Burma. Diana, who married well, chose to love another, became a fascist and spent time in prison. Unity became famous for her friendship with Adolf Hitler. Jessica (known as Decca) eloped with her lover to Spain, spent most of her years in the United States and became a communist. Last, but certainly not least, Deborah, the Duchess. This is the abridged version. The interesting part is the details that fill in a lifetime of living.
While the writing lacked vitality in places, I discovered in Deborah a warm personality, someone who really cared about family and community. Here are my takeaways:
- Celebrate the life that is given. Deborah loved writing her story and looking back on a life well-lived.
- Decisions have consequences that effect an entire family.
- Siblings many not always agree, but differences and competitive behaviors can be overcome.
- Wealth does not necessary bring happiness.
- We live in a global community where external events influence our choices and our destinies.
I read “Wait for Me” via audio-book which felt as if I was having tea with the Duchess at Chatsworth.
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” C.S. Lewis