Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Reunion

My brother lives a short drive from where we are staying in Arlington, VA; I think he lives in Maryland. My brother and I have been estranged for years now, though I continue to love him from afar. He is a very successful man, but has his problems. Just like you. Just like me. He became successful because of his dedication and hard work. Because he believes in what he does.

And sometimes that kind of dedication doesn't include family. No, I don't mean his immediate family. Raymond is an excellent husband and dad, and now even a grandfather.

I have to admit, of course, that to have a relationship with someone, effort has be put forth on both sides. So, I am to blame for the demise of our relationship as well. I did not attempt to contact him or my nieces and nephew ever. I never sent birthday cards or Christmas cards.

We are so different, he and I. So different. When we were younger, he wore shirts with front pockets so he could put his pencils in them with a pencil pocket thing (whatever it's called -- oh, yea, "pocket protectors"); I wore bell bottom jeans and flannel shirts. I played Spin the Bottle; he ratted me out to mom and dad. I wanted to go to dance school; he wanted to go to law school. I had a very stormy (to say the least) young adulthood (lasting until I was in my late 30s); he went to college, graduated, went on to post graduate school, etc. He is a pastor; I don't believe in religion. He has a wonderful marriage; I failed at three. He is successful; I am a teacher, barely making it paycheck to paycheck. I say cuss words; he says "God loves you."

I am the black sheep; he is the one mom and dad were always proud of. You know the story. Mom and Dad always spent more money on him, more smiles for him, more love for him. So it seemed to my twisted mind.

We do have some similarities. I love my children before anything or anyone else. I believe he does, too. I believe in a higher power, the Universe perhaps, watching over all of us.

I don't think I was jealous of him, but maybe I was. Maybe that's why I never put the effort into it. Maybe it's just because we are so different that I never bothered.

But I knew I had to do something this past Father's Day. Dad and Mom are getting old -- Dad is 80; Mom is 79. I had to make something happen -- for them. Mom and Dad are from Old School where children are supposed to be the ones to keep in touch. Parents just sit back on their laurels and wait for children to call. It's who they are. They'd never admit that they could have tried a little harder, too. Maybe sent a birthday card, a Christmas card. Whatever. I think we need to move on.

So I did.

I called their house on the evening of Father's Day and basically chewed Raymond out for not contacting them. I didn't talk about us; that wasn't my purpose. Every time an occasion (like Father's Day) came around, they would always call me and get all upset with Raymond. I could hear the hurt; I could almost taste it. It was transmitted through the phone so strongly that I'd had enough of it, and had to call him.

I'm glad I did.

I got to see my niece, Kimberlee (Katie is away at camp); Kimberlee's daughter Kaelyn; my nephew Kyle, and my sister-in-law Cathy. And of course, I got reconnected with my brother.

We had a great dinner of blue crabs, pull- 'em-apart-and-dig-the-meat-out, smash-the-legs-and-pull-the-meat-out kind of crabs. They even put butcher paper on the table for the mess. It was a unique-to-the-east-coast (I hear) kind of experience.

I didn't have one beer, and I didn't say one cuss word. Another unique experience.

So please, if you have been estranged from a family member -- make it better. There will never be a better time than the present. You never know what is going to happen tomorrow.

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