Has anyone else out there experienced a moment (or moments if they are truly blessed) that is so perfect that you will carry with you for the rest of your life? I am blessed to say that I can carry one of those moments with me until I draw my last breath.
I bill myself as an only child. This is technically true but I do, in fact, have a half brother. We share the same mother. She had bad taste in husbands. Mom was drawn to self absorbed men incapable of thinking of anyone else. We were planets orbiting around them. That was our sole purpose as far as they were concerned.
The first was a philanderer who left her when my brother Rick was four. The father had nothing more to do with his son when he left her for another woman and allegedly proceeded to produce six or seven more half siblings through a string of a couple of more marriages. I know Rick was curious about these siblings but never worked up the courage or gumption to pursue his curiosity.
Then our mutual Mom met and married my father. I think that she thought she was getting out of her personal hell and into the 1950’s version of the “dream”. Marry a doctor or lawyer, get a house in the ‘burbs and live happily ever after. But my father was a facsimile.
He was a very troubled man. He had many demons surrounding him. He was bisexual at best and an alcoholic. Though very intelligent and sometimes very witty when he wasn’t being cruel, he let his demons run his life while hiding behind the disguise of white bread respectability. I am afraid that my brother, already once betrayed, walked from the frying pan into the fire. He saw the man behind the mask that my father wore to the public and it wasn’t pretty. I didn’t know any better and this in some ways saved me. I thought everyone’s dad came home and drank scotch until they passed out in the chair. In fact, I looked forward to it. I would wait patiently for the inevitable sound of his sonorous snoring that signaled his unconsciousness. Then I could watch what I wanted to watch on television.
Dysfunction, it seems, was the new normal.
Rick left home as soon as he could and married and started a family. I, as the favored child, stayed within my cocoon oblivious to the cracks in the fuselage. Maintaining the facade, Rick and his wife did not live too far away and would come to visit for compulsory occasions.
Just across the street from our home, there was a small playground. On one occasion when Rick and his family were visiting, we took his two daughters over to play there. While the girls were playing on the slide, he and I sat down on the swings. Slowly at first, but with ever increasing vigor, Rick and I began to swing and pump, swing and pump, gaining a semblance of altitude and momentum.
There was nothing between us but these moments accentuated by the pause in centrifugal force at each end of the arc our swings made. A pause in which we defied gravity and levitated. At the acme of each arc, we hung suspended in air and looked at each other and smiled. It was a bond that dissolved all competition, resentment and alienation between us. The favored child that proved my father’s manhood and the unwanted son shed those bonds and labels if only for the time being.
I will always remember that feeling. I can recall it with perfect clarity even now, some thirty years later. The perfection of this rare time with my bro on a sunny day where our feet seemed to touch the clouds. And all was good and warm between us.
Unfortunately, feelings and moments don’t last. Can’t last.
My relationship with my brother got increasingly more and more toxic. The chess game that was my family’s dynamic got checkmated. I moved out of the state eight years ago and he doesn’t know I left. There has been no communication since my mother’s funeral fifteen years ago. I probably have grand nieces or nephews, but I don’t know how many, nor who my nieces married.
I understand this happens a lot more commonly than I thought. Sibling relations are complex and fraught with resentment and estrangement. I have come to accept the fact that there most likely is not going to be a Hollywood ending to this scenario. It is what it is and it is most important to put our myths to bed.
When I think of him now, I remember that magic series of moments suspended in mid air; just he and I defying the inevitable forces of nature. Time stopping for a fleeting second or two, stuffed with happiness on the swings in a park.
I wish him well.