In Conversation with my Brother



Life gets hectic for everyone.  You can get so focused on your own goals and navigating the love boat that is your own personal household and life, that without ever intending it, large spans of time can pass by without catching up.  Even with some of the people who mean everything to you.

When I was growing up, my Dad wasn’t really fond of having his own friends around.  In fact, unless it was my Aunts or Uncles, cousins or us kids, he wasn’t interested in extending the invite out.  If you came over, he was irritated.  He liked his privacy.  This contradicted with my inner workings which always loves to have people around (as long as I am not writing).

One of the things I recall about my Dad was his attitude toward relationship maintenance; it was more than a little one-sided.  If someone did not make the effort to stay in regular touch with him, he let them drift away.  And he was okay with that, often commenting that if HE wasn’t a priority in their world, then he wasn’t missing much.   I remember thinking that it was a lopsided theory, since I was fairly sure that relationships took mutual effort.

One of my biggest anxieties and concerns is being “that family member that moved to the USA” and drifting into obscurity.  I chat on my Facebook to share nuances of my day, with a frequency that would rival CNN updates.  I’m sure my openness is cringe worthy for many, and others, particularly Kevin’s family and friends, may see the posts as “attention seeking” which they are, but not in a negative way.  Facebook is the one single place… I can post daily, and allow my family and friends who are far away to participate in my life.   And how I can like, comment, share and chuckle over their posts too.  For me, it is the thread that keeps me connected to people I miss so much, that I literally cry over it a few times a week.  Then I dry it up, and remember that moving to a new country is not without consequences and adjustments.  I seem to always have to pine and miss someone… terribly.

But if I win the mega millions, you all (you know who you are) will have houses on my compound.  That’s how I would architect this life if wishes were fishes. We’d live on the same street, every one of us, and be cooking together, swimming together and taking care of each other in a rich, close knit community that exists now, but is geographically challenged.

I talked. He talked. I talked way more… which is what happens when someone with ADHD gets excited and extremely happy. He laughed, I laughed… and over the course of about two hours the happy meter that is the part of my heart reserved only for him, filled up to the bursting point.  God I had missed him, so much <— (tears welling up seriously) and the sound of his voice and his perspectives on kindness, being a husband and father and the life he had built renewed me.  He’s always been a best friend of mine, and always had my back.  I often tell his Mom that I believed I was her kid, born into the wrong family.   Because she is a best friend too, and a Mom to me in many ways.  Better than one in fact.

The spirit of his heart is so aligned with all the things I have learned and now hold to be true in my own life.  Family? Top priority.  Life balance? More important than money or things.  He works from home now too as an Executive for Microsoft, and relishes the balance that has brought to their family life.  My heart bloomed for him when he spoke about putting his kids on the bus in the morning, and being there when they got home.  The Zen of it and the wholesomeness of it that he was so proud to have achieved.

There are scars in our family that we wear.  Over time, the scars become a memory that is a little faded; it becomes less angry.  I understand people and the decisions they made, and their perspectives.  I don’t agree with all perspectives (I have my own) but Benny and I agree it was unfortunate.  We wish people had made different decisions, and been more direct and less covert (or dishonest) about their emotions and feelings.  Less competitive with each other.  Less selfish in their own personal intentions.  If they had, what would our family be like today? Our extended family would probably be more like Kevin’s.  Loving, happy to get together in mass groups for any particular reason.  Beer flowing, memories flowing, hugs and kisses and laughter (with kids running everywhere).  I thought that’s how our family would be too, because it was like that.  I didn’t create it and I can’t change it, nor will I live with a heavy heart ruminating over it any more.

Sometimes people are not aware of their own emotions or actions, or the damage that they can do.  While conversations with me personally (I know this) can be abrupt and honest, they are… honest.  If I love you, you know it.  If I like you, you know it.  If I don’t like you, you are aware… and I quickly become someone that politely avoids you.   If you ask me why, you should be prepared for blunt honesty because I have seen first hand… how damaging it is to put up a false front.  Don’t want to know the truth?  I hate giving advice and you have to pull it out of me now in my old, seasoned ripe age of forty-two.  But if you press me for it and ignore my disclaimer (I have a disclaimer before dispensing advice)… you forgo retaliation rights. I warned you that I am honest; and I am done moderating my honesty for the comfort of others.

So as you can imagine, I don’t get asked for personal advice that often. :)  Which suits me fine.

In conversation with my brother, I realized how still, after 41 years of knowing this man, we are aligned in spirit, thought and priorities.  I miss my family so much, and while I am worried about Diego being stressed and passing while I am gone (trying not to think about it) if I don’t get home to see my loved ones soon, I am going to suffer spiritually.  My sister, my step-sister and brother-in-law and niece and nephew, my beloved cousins and Aunties (and Zio’s).  My Godparents.   Diane and Tyler, and two very important friends in New York.

I never pick up the phone or email people because I always feel like I am bothering them.  Interrupting the flow of their week or day because I miss them?  Is that selfish?  If my experience was this profound feeling of love and connection with a two-hour call, perhaps the lesson in this is that I have to pick up the phone.  I have the time and the intention to, and I’ll have to rely on them to “screen my call” if they don’t want to talk.   But more than talk these days, I really just want to listen to them… hear them, and stay in the loop for the handful of people on this planet that I truly love and care about.

Have phone, will use it.

On the wall of his son’s bedroom is a poem I wrote more than ten years ago.  I wrote it in an email to Benny, and he and his wife Monica printed it and got it framed.   It asks Benny Jr. to remember to take his Father’s hand and get muddy.  To build tree forts and whip crab apples at tree stumps.  To build rock dams in the ditch to watch the water flow, and build little boats out of egg crates and race them.  To remind his Father always of his childhood, and to enjoy the same simple, amazing abundant childhood experiences that we did.

My brother’s request was one for his daughter too.  And so when Zia Lori comes to Canada this year for a visit (it’s happening if I have to walk there), I will stay a few days with them and enjoy being with them again.  And write a special little poem for a magical girl named Tianna.

Because that’s what nutty, creative, poetic, “talk too much on Facebook” family members do.