Fifty Three: My Brother

“Son, brother, father, lover, friend. There is room in the heart for all the affections, as there is room in heaven for all the stars.”  – Victor Hugo

“Being his real brother I could feel I live in his shadows, but I never have and I do not now. I live in his glow.” – Michael Morpurgo, Private Peaceful

At age 18, I picked up the phone book and dialed the number of a man long forgotten. Well, not quite forgotten, but never communicated with. I heard a woman’s voice on the other end of the line. She passed the phone casually to my father, not knowing that this call in some small way would start a course of action that would slowly unravel her marriage. That is another story for another time, suffice to say that in this conversation I found out that I had three brothers that I didn’t know I had. Saturday, I welcomed the brother 14 years my junior into my home and my heart once again.

After that fateful call, my father established a long-overdue thread of communication with me. He visited me in my college town. He brought my brothers with him so I could get to know them. We went to museums and then ate whatever vegetarian items he could find at McDonalds. There was always a special bond between one of my brothers and I. He showed interest while the others were somewhat indifferent to this young woman they didn’t know.

It was strange to see my father so keenly involved with his sons. I had only envisioned him as an apathetic parent who couldn’t really be a father based on my limited experience with him. I never held any malice towards these young boys, but it took some time to sort through the tangle of emotions I felt towards my father.

Fast forward ten years and the set of brothers were starting to graduate from high school. I kept in touch with my brothers in Canada via email, and I always kept the invitation open for them to visit me in the States. Then my brother asked if he could take me up on the offer. Ummm, sure. I had started to expect that none of them would ever take me up on this offer. I was sharing a small apartment with my boyfriend, but we had a comfy couch to sleep on and free weekends.

That first visit was a little awkward. My brother and I didn’t really know each other and fumbled around one another like strangers.  I resolved to keep the conversation flowing, so I kept talking and asking him questions. We did tours. We walked from one end of the city to the next. We hopped on bikes and got out even further. It was a little frustrating to be drumming up all the conversations, but then I took a step back and saw that it was he that initiated the visit and traveled down to see me. It was exciting and a major breakthrough to be culturing this friendship and family relationship.

That was more than 7 years ago. He has seen me move to two different homes, get married, have a child, have another child, and adventure up until the point I am at now. Likewise I have seen him through his college education, several jobs, and one steady sweetheart. There is an unconditional love between us that is quite unique in my life. We weren’t raised in the same household nor did we have a host of shared memories from over the years to bind us together. But we are making those memories now, and I would do anything for him.

How have your sibling relationships changed now that you’re adults?


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