I am sitting in an airport waiting for my flight home.
I spent the weekend in Chicago visiting my son at his college and marveling at the amazing man he is becoming. While I was backing and forth-ing and smiling, I overheard someone say that Friday, the day I was flying into Chi-town, was National Siblings Day.
“A Day to Honor, Recognize, and Celebrate each other”.
I have envy.
I saw many pictures of my friends and acquaintances who followed the suggestion and posted photos of their group of sibs. They all seem happy and glad to be in each other’s company.
I have a sibling.
He doesn’t know what state I live in. Actually, he is a half sibling and our mother didn’t speak to him for the last three years of her life. He gets to live with that one. My father did a major number on him. I would say he is a very wounded person who is very shut down. He had to in order to survive. The last time I laid eyes on him was at my father’s memorial service. He and his family came late, left early and never exchanged a word with me.
He did cry at my mother’s service six months earlier.
He would say he is fine.
He probably is. Married a woman of mediocre intelligence who provided him with a nest, as well as a welcoming Italian, if odd, family and two beautiful daughters.
I like that he doesn’t know where I live. I arranged it that way after a lifetime of jumping through his brotherly hoops hoping to get his approval and affection. All the while I was acting out my own demons bestowed by the paterfamilias. He was wrestling with the detritus of his childhood.
There are times, I must admit, where I still long for the connection. I want Christmases and Thanksgivings together with his family and mine. I want laughter and merriment and board games to work off the food coma that results from feasting together.
I have occasionally sent a Christmas card or a note. There has been no response. I no longer expect one or even waste the stamp.
It will never happen.
I drank the Kool Aid ® the television poured for me. I wanted to be The Beaver to his Wally, the Marcia to his Greg and the other Bradys. Instead we both survived out respective childhood as best we could. The scars are not visible. I have come to a peace about my parents. He barred the trap door.
The odd gift of this situation is the relationship my three children have now that they are crossing the threshold of adulthood. I have repeatedly told them over the years of the magic of being the only three people to share the same history. They may have different perspectives, but they are the only ones. All of them routinely talk, smack and otherwise, to each other on a regular basis of their own choosing. They tease, boss, laugh, and connect. It is a joy to know they do this of their own choosing with no cajoling on my part whatsoever. They have independent relationships with each other. A victory of the highest order over the scarred history of my brother and I.
There is one memory I hold out whenever the brother pops into my mind — or is forced there by a contrived “national” holiday.
We were in the park across the street from my parents’ house with his then small daughters. While they played on the slide and in the sand, he and I sat down on the swings. Slowly at first, we began to pump our legs and the swings gained momentum. We were in synchrony swinging back and forth at the same time. Higher and higher, we maintained our rhythm until we were at the maximum of the pendulum. There was very little conversation — none seemed to be needed. We just kept swinging and watching our extended legs touch the sky at the top of the arc. Slowly we let the momentum die down until it was time to go. We walked away in silence with a sense of contentment and the grasp of a moment not to occur again. The memory lingers when it surfaces and leaves me with a smile.
I understand the respective places of the heart we have chosen. But it makes National Sibling Day a farce. In observing friends with siblings, I think their relationships run the gamut. Some have angst, some have joy, most have a mixture of the gamut. But it is still family and the power to maintain the connection is up to the brothers and sisters.
But, I still miss you sometimes, Rick. Happy Siblings Day.