August 16, 2013

Brother vs. "Brother"

It's almost midnight, I need a shower and I'm sure there will be Taco Bell inspired nightmares and fierce heartburn come 3am.  But.  I'm not drunk, and I didn't cry, and I remember who it was that made me melancholy tonight.  His name was Larry.  He was my brother.

I was raised with my sister, we two daughters from my fathers second marriage.  My dad is now an old man, struggling with his own mortality.  He has buried three of four sons from his previous marriage.  One remains, the youngest, the calmest, and the least likely to get into things that are not good for him.  I wish I could say that I was inspired to cry in grief, but the thing that made me want to cry was the fact that I had no idea who this man was.  I didn't know his favourite song or band, much less what kind of music he liked.  I didn't know what he drank, if he drank, or if a toast to him would have been appreciated.  What I remember of him was a tall, dark haired, good looking man who was very charming and loved women.  I was a teenager the last time I laid eyes on him.  He was so thin from diabetes and life that I would not have recognized him in the street had I crossed him.  I wrote a letter to him when he was ill a few years ago...never got a response, I assume the letter made it there.

I come from a relatively large family when you look at it all from a distance.  My immediate one, the people with whom I was raised, are few and tight knit. Over the years I have acquired many many friends and counted them as family.  They are loyal as such and some have taken care of me and I, them.  There are a few men in this world I openly call, "brother".  Some are college friends who've been with me through thick and thin, others are men that I served with that had my back.  I can tell you their names, their significant others name, their interests, their dislikes....but I can't recall what my blood brother even did for a living before diabetes took over his life.

I have seen my brothers' wives and girlfriends through babies, new homes, family tragedies, and long nights.  I've borrowed cars, lent cars, bummed cash, paid for groceries, offered a couch and cleaned their homes.  But I can't tell you where my blood brother lived or exactly how many wives he ultimately had.  I know his last wife took care of him, and stayed by him and called my mom and dad when they needed to know things.  I know she worked hard but life wasn't easy on them.  I know he had two or three children over the years...but a solid count...I don't have.  There may have been more.  I never held his children.  I don't remember if I ever met them face to face.

Honey says it's OK, it's not my fault.  I guess he's right.  We weren't encouraged to communicate with them growing up as the boys were old enough to be a father to my sister and me.  They lived in Georgia after the last two moved out of mom and dads house in the late 70's.  I do know that I could have taken more of an active effort to know who they were.  My memories of them are from childhood, kindergarten and before.  Playing barbies, watching TV, holding puzzle box lids while the older kids put the puzzle together....

Sadly, I don't even have a picture to add to this blog.  I will leave you with this image:  6' tall, leggy, lanky man with a chiseled jaw line, bright blue eyes, dark black hair and a big open smile.  (yes my father makes beautiful children)
Happy trails and peaceful rest to:  Richard, Kenneth and Larry Allen. 

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