I had a tough morning yesterday. One of my oldest and dearest friends felt that he needed to distance himself from me. He thought that I had given up on wanting to improve my condition. I tried to explain myself the best that could on how I felt I needed to follow my heart and my own moral compass. I explained how much I had appreciated his input over the many years that we’ve known each other. But that I couldn’t always live my life by the standards and actions which he thought would complete me. I truly love him and he has helped me out so much, brought much joy into my life and been a good friend. I tried to make it clear how grateful I was for his friendship and how much I will miss him. I was saddened when he said goodbye.
So what a shitty way for a morning to start. I cried for a while, did the best I could to collect myself and then I visited my brother. He’s my younger brother by 5 years. We’ve never were the closest of friends. The age difference between us was part of the reason for that I think. The way we were raised had something to do with that but that’s must be reflected upon at another time. The thing is, my brother and I had different interests, different personalities, different perspectives. As we grew, sharing the same bedroom, the same parents and going to the same school, we spent more time with our own group of friends. We didn’t communicate too much with each other, other than on the most surface of levels. I never felt like we disliked each other, it’s just that we didn’t care to make any effort to know each other. We had our own little, comfortable, sometime chaotic separate worlds at the same time we were rubbing shoulders with each other.
Well, over the years, after we cast ourselves out into the world, our relationship stayed about the same, respectfully distant, not geographically but surely emotionally. I’ve been, at times, stubbornly pigheaded and dismissive towards him as has he been with me.But we never completely cut each other out. We were friends but not close friends as you would think brothers should be. As we aged we each went through some trauma, health issues, divorces, financial troubles. We helped each other out when we could. We even worked together on some construction jobs, which at times was both infuriating and rewarding. We experienced the death of friends and the deaths of our parents, our mother passing only a little over a year ago. Recently I selfishly decided that I just couldn’t go to his daughters wedding. I’m not much into weddings, I have phobias about being in large groups of people, didn’t want to miss any work at a my new job. He was furious about my decision when I told him. I stubbornly dug my feet in the ground. I wrote a letter and sent the obligatory check to my niece and her new husband telling them that I just couldn’t make it. They sent a obligatory thank-you letter to me in return. My brother, rightfully, was pissed. Told me that he didn’t want anything to do with me ever again. I tried a couple of time soon after to speak to him but he’d have none of it.
Months went by in which I had many conversations with my sister, my younger sister. I would always ask during our talks how my brother was. She told me what she knew. He was recovering from an accident that he had, healing well, getting ready to go back to work, doing pretty good she said. She told me that she thought my brother was over reacting about me not going to the wedding but at the same time encouraged me call him. I also got advice from my friend, who I start this post talking about, to do the same. Talk to him, he said, explain your reasons for not going, apologize for not going. I did do just that. I nervously picked up the phone and called him. Oh my brother, oh my brother, God bless him, he answered the phone, “Hello”. I said, “Hey, It’s your brother, just wondering how yer doin’?” ” Hey, Jim! Good. How are you doing?” Hearing the tone of his voice, that beautiful familiar voice, swept all of my anxiety and worries away. We only talked for a short time. We talked about work, our kids and grand kids. football. the stuff that we always have talked about, comforting stuff, familiar stuff, anecdotal funny stuff. There was no mention of the wedding, no vindictiveness or accusations. In his voice and in his own way, I heard what he was saying. Words that rang out like a song of forgiveness and love.
Since that conversation I’ve stopped by his house many times to visit. I apologized about not attending the wedding the first time I did . He only said, “I wish you would have come, Jim. You would have had a good time.” He went on to tell me about who danced with who and some funny little things that I missed. My brother was right. I probably would have had a good time. I’m sorry I didn’t go. I’m glad I have a brother. It feels more than ever that we are brothers. I love my brother and I know that in his own way, that he loves me! It was good seeing him yesterday. Being with him a short while helped me get out of my funk about the exchange that I had with my friend earlier in the morning.
In the afternoon, I felt lucky after texting my sister to find out that she wasn’t working. I drove to her place. I’ve always been close to my little sister. She’s pragmatic, tough, warm and has a smile that lights up the room. She’s been through tough times over the last couple of years. Went through an ugly divorce, has had worries about her eldest child, has had to deal, more than any of my siblings, with our mothers death, as she took on the task of being the executor of her estate. Through all of it she’s kept herself on even keel. Managed to find herself a boyfriend, a great, amiable guy who took me on to help him paint a few houses with him. He offered me the job at a perfect time. I was low on money and I really liked working with him.
Well anyways, visiting my sister yesterday was great. I told her all about my friends decision to distance himself from me. She was sympathetic, understanding and kind. In other words, she was beautiful herself. We talked about relationships. She opened up to me about her marriage. How hard it was on her and her kids and how she dealt with it. I won’t go into details but the point being is that I have a wise sister. She is like a rock in the very best of ways. She knows her priorities, doesn’t fret the small stuff and has the ability to be wickedly funny. Even when life hits her in the head with pain. I’ve no inhibitions of telling my sister openly how much I love her, as she does with me. Leaving her place I felt so blessed and grateful.
I went on later to spend time with an old friend who I hadn’t heard from in a while. I worked for her brother, on and off, for a few years, and worked for her quite a lot doing chores and handy man stuff at her house. I also took Tango dance lessons with her. She called me out of the blue a couple weeks ago and asked if I wanted to get together. For I long time I was close to her family, working for her brother along with her son, and getting to know her parents and her younger brother. They invited me to their family get togethers and I even attended some church services with them. Yesterday we had so much fun talking. She told me about the dynamics of her family, going into details about raising her son and daughter, her own divorce, the death of her younger brother. I remember going to the funeral and being amazed by her strength and her courage at that time and at her beautiful demeanor. I shared stories from my childhood as I remember them and gave her some insights into my upbringing, my family, then and now. I’m so grateful that she called me and that we reconnected. She helps spur me forward to want to reconnect with her brother and spend more time with her. And she reminds me just how important, even in its dysfunction, my family to me.
I haven’t mentioned that I have an older sister too. I plan on calling her today. And being that I have a day off, I’m planning on visiting my daughter, her husband and my two beautiful grand children today too. I love them all. And though we are all unique, in so many ways their story is mine and mine theirs. We write our story together.