Marlyce Schulenberg & Debbie Schulenberg - 1953My sister-in-law, Debbie is the second of my in-law’s six children, but in many ways she is the oldest. Her older sister, Marlyce was born developmentally disabled. Even though Debbie was three years younger, she quickly became the oldest child. Marlyce would always be a child, in an adult body, and that would leave Debbie to be the second child, but really the oldest child. I would imagine that while she didn’t feel like the oldest in some ways, she was strangely the oldest in others. Marlyce would never be able to babysit their siblings, because she was not mature enough, so the babysitting would have to be Debbie. Any other responsible duties would also have to go to Debbie, because Marlyce could Debbie keeping Bob in linenot do those things. Marlyce did learn to make amazing cookies, but this, too was done under supervision.

Through the years, that had to have been a strange thing for Debbie…knowing that her sister was older, but she didn’t really seem older. I would think that it might have even been confusing for a child, but Marlyce was her big sister, and by the time Debbie was 17 months old, she also had a little brother, my husband, Bob. That brought even bigger responsibilities for the middle sister, of the older three children of her parents. And, the middle sister she would remain for 7 years after the birth of her brother. Then she would become the second child, but again the oldest child, when her 3 youngest siblings were born, and her mom and dad needed her Marlyce, Debbie, & Bob  - 1957help even more. The older children have always helped with the younger children, and while Marlyce always loved babies, she could not fully take care of them, like her little sister, Debbie could.

Nevertheless, as much as Debbie was the older child when it came to most things, she was not the oldest child, and for her, probably never considered herself to be the older child. The things Marlyce couldn’t do were really of no consequence, because Marlyce was very much loved, and she was simply the oldest child. Today is Debbie’s birthday. Happy birthday Debbie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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