I was surprised to receive a comment on my last post from my younger brother whom I had not heard from in at least six years. My last communication with him consisted of me urging him to begin a conversation with our sister after the death of our mother. He said that he would and several months later I was informed by her that he had never followed through with getting in touch.
There is probably a novel hidden here or somewhere in the space between the times we have seen each other over the course of the past 20 years. Looking back I can’t really say there was any indication that our lives would work out this way—me with several grandkids and him telling me that he has isolated himself from friends and family and is currently living “in the woods” somewhere (I assume) in the United States.
The concept of nurture/nature is one that comes to mind when I think about my family and the course our lives have taken since we each left the nest in Port Huron, Michigan. I am the oldest of four and share our late mother with each of them. Their father (my stepfather) had a temper at times and we each have our own stories to tell about his abuse and how it ultimately affected us.
I didn’t find out that their father wasn’t my dad until I was in the ninth grade and as you can imagine, this fact came as quite a shock to me. I remember not talking for days until my parents confronted me about what was going on and I told them I had inadvertently found a marriage certificate that indicated they had tied the knot sometime well after my birthday. I never even knew my “real” father’s name until I asked my mother one day during a visit many years after she had been divorced from the guy who filled the father role lo those many years.
I have to say that I have never had a real desire to look up my real father similar to those stories we see in the movies—like showing up on his doorstep saying that I am your long lost son come to find you and have a relationship. Nope—that didn’t happen.
I guess his name was Roger and he had red hair which is probably why two of my girls have this reddish-blonde natural hair color. I have always imagined that he had some Irish in him but I don’t think my mother had a whole lot of info about him for her oldest son. Just as well—he can be almost anyone I want him to be—if it really came to all that.
What can I say through all of this? It is many years later and I don’t ever talk to my 2 brothers but talk to my sister at least monthly. She keeps in touch with me and I keep in touch with her.
I will admit it—our family was fractured—at it’s basic core it was broken. Not unlike many other families at that time.
I guess the hardest thing to wrap my head around is the thought of giving up or not fighting against letting our “demons” get the better of us.
My siblings were led to believe by my mother that I was the one she was most proud of and that I was the one that “made” it whatever that seemed to mean to her at the time (the many times) she said that.
I would often explain to my sister that it was just as hard for me, some days, to get out of bed and get on with life as it must be for my brother. That at my core, I was just as broken as he, but for whatever reason, I made it through the day and well into the next two or three. Becoming a Christian at age 30 was most likely what keep me in the game of life and a precursor to having four children and a marriage that has lasted 36 years.
Having a loving wife (life partner and best friend) certainly helped me through the tough times but no matter how low I might go there was never a time that I thought about giving up or cutting everyone out of my life and moving to the woods.
I began this post several weeks ago and have not wrapped my head around what it is that I really wanted to say about my brother’s brief comment.
After explaining all this (and there could be much more) I guess what I would most like to say is that even though life has not turned out like a Hallmark film of the week, my memories of my brother are mostly positive and I hope that some day we will be able to share a meal again and maybe a glass or two of wine in my outdoor living room on a warm, 72 degree, summer’s evening. We have missed a lot of each other’s lives and I am sad about that.
What keeps popping up in my head is the final two verses from one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs, “Bob Dylan’s Dream”.
How many a year has passed and gone
And many a gamble has been lost and won
And many a road taken by many a friend
And each one I’ve never seen again
I wish, I wish, I wish in vain
That we could sit simply in that room again
Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat
I’d give it all gladly if our lives could be like that
Have a great ride today, Brother.
You’re a good older brother for me too.