It’s personalities

In her Soulful Sunday share on trust, Brene Brown mentions that “as small as the moments of trust can be, those can be the moments of betrayal, as well.  To choose to not connect when there is an opportunity, is a betrayal.”  (10.35)

That summed up last Saturday for me.  Standing at the local farm market, under the oak trees shading the vegetable vendors, flower sellers & omelette makers, there unfolded moments of opportunity for connection ~or~ betrayal.

Suddenly seeing my Aussie-based older brother shook me up –  I thought he was outside Sydney, not in the heart of our hometown.  He casually mentioned that he & Kerry had been in town since Wednesday.  Mike spoke to me in the exact same tone of voice, with the exact same level of engagement, as the person he talked to before spotting me.  Neither of us moved in for a hug & kiss.

His host eagerly assured me,  “You are on their radar, tagged for a visit!”  That did not help with my hyperventilating over what I guess Mike & Kerry thought would be a happy shock.  What they might have planned as a big surprise went down as surreal – and not in a good way.

From Mike & Kerry’s angle, it might have seemed like a swell way to surprise me.  Up to this season, I’d been the farm market’s Cupcake Lady.  Since we have no contact outside of their Christmas card, they might not have known I skipped this season, focusing my energies on nurturing my eldercare (r)evolution efforts.

One reason for our shocked response – John as much as I – was that on their two earlier joint visits since Mom died, they ignored numerous invitations to get together.  The shift between being dissed & “Hey!  You’re on their radar & tagged for a visit!” stripped my spirits.  And I couldn’t get as upset as I wanted, to say “WHAT?” because there were people milling all around us.  Again – surreal describes how it felt.

Even at the time, I felt sorry for Mike.  Am sure it was not the reaction he expected. being relatively cold-shouldered, in front of everyone.  Kerry could reasonably have chalked it up to “typical Elsa, still rude & hurtful.”  From their point of view, possibly from their hosts’ & others, that’s how it could have seemed.

I dissect everything, so naturally did a post-mortem on last weekend.  Came up with confirmation of what I already know to be so – we process things in opposite ways, which does not bode well for building strong healthy connections.

 

Brene completely captured what happened last weekend – “As small as the moments of trust can be, those can be the moments of betrayal, as well.  To choose to not connect when there is an opportunity, is a betrayal.”  But one person’s experience of attempted connection can be another’s moment of betrayal.

Background:  For two previous visits – one of them including Mom’s memorial celebration – Mike & Kerry made no effort to connect with me, neither as friend nor sibling.  They did not connect with me after our sister, Mim, died – my communication with them was directed through their daughter.  They never shared their response to the online memorial tribute their daughter & I created together, which saddens me more than anything.

My guess is that Mike & Kerry avoided contact due to fear of being hurt.  They would have been right – seeing & experiencing things so differently creates an unbridgeable chasm that makes miscommunication & mangled moments of connection almost inevitable

They triangulate, I am direct.  Oh, Kerry prides herself on being a frank Aussie, but my experience is more in line with my s-i-l as someone who detailed to Mom things about me that made her blood run cold, then saying while SHE never talked to me about those things, MOM was welcome to.

This blog is an opportunity for me to do the very thing my sibs & s-i-l find so irksome – write things out, look at them from different angles, reframe situations from another person’s perspective or even a totally different set of circumstances.

Which is my rambly way of saying there are times that past histories (separate & shared), life expectations & communication styles leave even the best-intended people setting up what they hope to be heartfelt connection that’s felt as betrayal.  It’s not personal – it’s personalities.

I will forever grateful that the Universe gave me an opportunity to be open & honest with my brother, Michael.  When he asked us out to breakfast on Monday, my sensors were on overload & I said yes because I lacked the grounding to say anything else.  It didn’t take me long to realize what a disaster that could turn into – and I didn’t have the energy to take the risk.

When Mike called on Sunday to confirm the plans, I told him, tenderly & firmly, that they – especially Kerry – feel unsafe to me ~and~ past experience suggests that I am equally unsafe for them – especially Kerry.  That I wish them well & accept that they wish me well, but we – Kerry & I – do not do well together.

I was able to feel the emotions on Saturday, register & respect them, let them past through & out of me because of years of reading & our current yoga/meditation work.  Seeing the situation as the story I was telling myself  & processing it was thanks to Brene.  But the opportunity to understand, process & speak my truth to the appropriate person, at an appropriate time?  That was literally God sent, to all of us.

For some people ~ like me, my sibs & s-i-l ~  maybe the best course of action is as basic as accepting that our conflicting communication styles don’t mesh, that it’s hard for us to connect  with each other,  that we can respect each other’s good intentions & honor one another as special-place-in-the-heart people.

And keep a safe, loving distance.

The Anatomy of Trust – Brene Brown

Okay, it’s a Friday & this is NOT a podcast.  But it is something I need to post BEFORE the end of this remarkable week, one that has been all about trust.

Trust is, in my understanding, THE most important sense that there can be within relationship, whether with others, our self, or the Divine.

My thanks to Brene for her wisdom over the past few years.  Am posting this in place of a Friday podcast because TRUST is where I’m at.  You come too!

 

Trust was a major, unspoken issue in my family.  My parents had a similar strong, almost supernatural sense of trust, apparently in full bloom with their introduction.  But with everyone else, especially me, Mom had trust issues.

Mim had the most serious trust issues.  It might have been based in part in her nature – or not.  Whatever deep terrible trauma she experienced when she was very young – which was never acknowledged within the family – left her distrustful of even her nearest & dearest.  I think the only people she never spoke of as “against” her were Penny, Gray, Lark, both Beths & a couple cousins.

It seemed to me that Mim cloaked herself with snide comments & slighting observations because she felt it was better to get the thrusts in first before someone did it to her.

This was brought home to me after Mim’s death.  I was planning on making cupcakes for the long-term care facility where she’d lived.  My oldest brother warned me off, sharing that she’d told him that the staff despised her so much, “she doubted anyone would notice if she died.

That went straight to my heart – not because they were so callous & unfeeling, but because I knew from personal experience & from talking to her closest friends that the staff adored her, expressed in ways that can’t be faked to people of heart.  More than that, I’d heard Mim use either the exact same words or a variation to describe how many people – including my oldest bro – felt.

Mim could not feel accepted by people she did not trust.  No one can.  Mim wrapped herself in a straight-jacket of distrust & could not be coaxed out of it; the more she felt love from someone, the more she distrusted him or her.

I was also wrapped in distrust.  Until recently, my greatest belief was that no matter how much you seemed to like me, I would disappoint you & turn you away.  I certainly can point to the relationships in my family that went ka-blooey because of others feeling a deep lack of trust in me.  I think about my oldest brother’s children, who had terrible experiences with me because of my conflicts with their dad – they were caught in the middle & I was too short-sighted & emotionally dumb to notice.  They have BIG trust issues with me, which I respect & grieve.  My oldest brother considers me a mega liar, my sister experienced me as toxic & my s-i-l once described me as the most psychotic person she knew.  I respect & grieve their feelings, especially when they bar the way to any sort of healing.

Praise be, Mom worked her way out of some of her most entrenched trust issues.  We used a quirk of hers to create an opening to greater trust.  John or I would be headed out & she’d say, “If you’re anywhere near the pharmacy, would you pick up…?

That might sound innocuous enough, but it  drove me NUTS.  “Mom, if you need us to pick up a prescription, just TELL us.”  The next time, same thing – “If you’re anywhere near…?

It broke my heart that she didn’t think needing it was reason enough for us to want to get it.  John & I came up with a plan – when she’d ask, we’d ask her, in turn, to make it a direct request, like “Could you pick up my prescription at Bethayres Pharmacy?”  Then, we’d make sure  to pick it up,  without having to be reminded – and it was a pleasure.

To me, Mom’s reluctance to ask directly showed a lack of  her trust in our willingness to help her out.  Praise be, she developed a stronger sense of  assurance that we honestly enjoyed doing her bidding & that we would let her know if it was inconvenient & when we could pick up her order.  We used drugs to build Mom’s trust muscle!

Trust can be lost in little, middling or big ways, but it can only be restored in small ones & over time.

People we trust have been there when we needed them – stopping by Gretchen & Andrew’s at 3:30 a.m. in the morning because Mom had fallen & was being taken by ambulance to the hospital & I’d blown off getting gas hours earlier, so we were driving on fumes to a hospital 10 miles away – without a moment’s hesitation, we swapped car keys.  (The EMTs found it way bizarre that we left in a silver sedan & arrived in a blue suv.)  It’s knowing your niece & nephew WILL get to your wedding weekend, even though it’s outside Philadelphia & they’re in school in NYC & Delaware.  It’s the people who are there to give hugs when most needed, even if they haven’t the vaguest idea why.

Trust is built in the smallest of moments.”  Today was a big trust builder with John – we were heading out this morning & we couldn’t find the small purse the keys are in.  It’s really hard to misplace this purse, since it is the head of a cat.  John names EVERYTHING, so it is called Pursey.  And there was no Pursey to be found, anywhere.

The right place to put the purse is in the key basket, but I’ve been known to put it next to the coffee pot or next to the laptop.  I searched my book bag, the pockets of my pants, checked out in the car – could not be found.  The appointment of John’s we were headed to was a wash.

And it took him a full hour before reminding me that HE had been the last one to drive the car.  At this point, I could have gone ballistic.  “Why didn’t you remind me of that earlier, as I was searching places where I might have left it!

It would have been such a good vent, but like holding a balloon when I was a kid – – something I really really really wanted,  quickly left me disappointed, dissatisfied.

I kept my mouth shut & left him to his search.  He called the friend he’d visited yesterday, the gas station where he’d stopped – nothing.

After two hours, we talked about how we approach situations.  I step back, calm my mind & wait for whatever to show up, either in front of me or in my mind.  Until this morning, John has bunched up, which only drives the energy of what’s been lost deeper & deeper into the dark.

Instead of getting snippy, I suggested he go through part of the meditation practice we do at Pura Vida – after a couple minutes, he realized that an even better activity for him would be to get in his daily walk, which he used to do listening to A.M. talk radio but now is music for the chakras.

A couple hours later, he came down to the Basement, where I was working.  He held out his right hand – there was Pursey!  “I was snugging with Sky (our small tuxedo kitty) up in the bedroom & was walking past the stuffies on the top of my bureau, when the brown shape of a cat’s head caught my eye.”  Bet it caught his heart, too!

Yesterday, instead of waking me up from a nap to ask, “Do you want to come with me to Bernie’s?” – code for “Would you drive?” – he drove himself (very rare), letting me sleep on.  When he came back, I was still zonked out.  My guess is he thought to himself, “I’ll just put Pursey right here,” tucking him in with the stuffies, “And she will be surprised to see him when she walks past!”  Except I didn’t see my purse, it had flipped over from its cat face to its brown back & John clear forgot his clever surprise.

After finding the missing Pursey, John rescheduled his morning event to late this afternoon.  All is well & I will be picking him up in about 45 minutes, at 9:00 p.m.  He will come home to a dinner of mac & cheese, a chilled Goslings Ginger Beer & a slice of pumpkin cheese cake.  Not exactly nutritious, but it will be spot on with my Hubster.

John & I have done post-mortems on our fracas since our earliest days.  The last couple years have been especially testy, probably because we’ve been on the cusp of making some mega serious breakthroughs on the cause of my still surfacing trust issues.  Today was one of several triumphs of relationship over fear.  It would have meant little without the other small but mighty victories that came before

Trust can be lost in a heart beat, but restoring it takes a long time & many moments of putting relationship – with the other &/or yourself – over ego.

If I had blown up this morning, gone ballistic over the irksome niggly bits & pieces that pester & fester relationships, tonight’s served-with-love dinner would have been an empty, albeit it tasty, gesture.  But this morning, when the moment of reckoning arose, we aced it.  So bring on the mac & cheese, the ginger beer & pumpkin cheese cake, served WITHOUT  a snide of  discordant undertones!

 

They be them, we be we

When it comes to communication styles. my three oldest siblings take after Mom’s side of the family, Ian & I after Dad’s.  I know that because, even though Ian died at eleven (I was seven), he asked questions, which indicates he was at ease with basic communication. The three oldest are not.  A difference that took center stage today at our local farm market.

John & I arrived around 10:30 a.m., hoping to find Jon & Ang whipping up their world-class omelettes, although happy for a luscious ladling of Jency Cooper’s incredible bread pudding if they were not.

As we strolled from the roadway to under the beautiful canopy of oak trees, I mentioned to John about a fellow whose back was right in front of us, “Looks like the back of Mike.”  Dag-na-bit, if the bloke didn’t turn around & it WAS my brother!  Who lives in Australia.

For the first time in my life, I started hyperventilating, my knees went wobbly & my head spun.  But when Mike talked to me, you’d have thought it was a regular old Saturday, with nothing astonishing unfolding.  “We took a chance we’d see you here,” he said.

It would have been knee-wobbling even if they were Candy & Dave, who’ve been known to show up out of the blue, but Dave & Candy actually LIKE me, don’t have shattering issues with me.  Mike & Kerry don’t & do.  And it would be different if they’d arrive yesterday, but they got in on WEDNESDAY, staying with friends all of a 5-minute drive from our house.  My brain was reeling.

Mike’s host assured me, “Yes, they’ve been in town, but I assure you that you’ve been on their radar, tagged for a get together.”  That made sense to him – they’ve been in town for four days, but I should feel great because we are on their list of people to see.

And it would have been fine & dandy with our mother & with Mim.  I find it weird.  Besides, they’ve been clear as crystal over the past twenty years that I drive them – especially Kerry – right around the bend.

Kerry wrote 40+ years ago that when I enter a room, she wants to exit it because I am so rude;  in the last direct communications we had, twenty some years ago, she informed me I was the most psychotic person she knew.  She has not given me any reason to think that she is currently of a different opinion.  Less than two years ago, neither Kerry nor Mike contacted me after our sister, Mim died, not even after watching her online memorial tribute, a special collaboration between me & their Sydneysider daughter.  Not a peep.

Yet, here was Mike acting as if everything was right as rain.   There I was, trying to shift in literally a heartbeat from being wholly absent to literally in my face – too abrupt a shift without risking stripping my emotional gears.

Mike invited us out to breakfast on Monday.  Pick us up at 8:30 a.m., go to Daddypop’s.  Accepted, but realize will have to decline.  It just doesn’t work for me.  I understand that it does for them & that they might not see where I am coming from.

The difference between me & them is that I would not have a good time being out with someone I don’t like.  I love them, just as I love Peter & loved Mim.  The feeling is clearly NOT reciprocated & that is okay.  Can absolutely understand how being the way I am would drive them, being the way they are, right up a tree.  I wish them well, are glad that they wish me well, but accept that we do NOT do well together.

I actually went through something similar with my oldest brother, Peter, about fourteen years ago.  For a period of about six months, he’d take me out to breakfast every few weeks.  Finally, my curiosity got the better of me & I asked him, “I love going out with you, but am wondering – I’ve never been your cup of tea.  Are we working to establish a relationship that hasn’t existed before -or- have your discovered something about me to like that you didn’t realize before, because I’m still me.

My question did not go well.

Peter stormed, “There you go!  Why can’t you just accept going out to breakfast for what it is?  But, no – you have to have a 40-page dissertation!”  And I realized he was absolutely right – I do need to understand what’s happening when someone who has never been able to be around me without emotionally fidgeting is suddenly reaching out as if s/he enjoys my company.  And if they don’t enjoy my company, why would they bother with slapping on a mask & acting for 90 minutes as if they do?

A friend suggested, “Maybe they are trying to open up a new beginning, a fresh start.”  Let’s see…  They arrived on Wednesday, are going back to Australia on Tuesday (?), were planning – without seeing if we were free – on breakfast with us on Monday.  Sounds to me like someone squeezing us in, not looking for a new embrace of love & familial friendship.

As I sense it, our differences are not personal – they’re rooted in personality.  Where I say UP, they hear SIDE WAYS.  Where I say purple, they hear bright Kelly green.

I’ve worked darn hard to get to a place where I am okay with them being them & me being me.  I could develop a here & now relationship with Peter because he made it clear it was something to which he was open.  Mike & Kerry have never shown the slightest interest, which is okay.  Why hang out with someone you once considered the most psychotic rude person you’ve ever come across?  I sure wouldn’t.

I am grateful to Mike & Kerry for asking us out.  It’s true that they might feel totally different about me than they’ve expressed over the past 44 years & that breakfast on Monday could be a glorious new beginning of the sort of relationship I’ve craved all my life.  BUT my reality is I just don’t have the energy to take the risk.

John & I thank them for the invitation.  We are happy they had a nice visit with their son & his wife in Georgia, plus one with our nephew in North Carolina.  I hope they got an opportunity to visit with Peter & maybe even get in one with Pam.  We both wish them a great stay in Bryn Athyn & safe travels home.  But today’s experience drove home that they be them & we be we & the chemistries can too easily blow up in our faces.  We appreciate their outreach, yet must regretfully decline.

What a day it was – 09/02/00

Today’s Mindwalker1910 posting celebrates the day before my 09/03/89 wedding.  Did Mom ever describe the actual day?  I don’t recall.  She said that the closer something was to her heart, the harder it was for her to describe.  She had NO problem sharing the fun we had over the long weekend that contained that Day of Days – also on a Sunday!
 
Subj: What a day it was, eleven years ago
Date: Sat Sep 2 22:59:04 EDT 2000 
Another hot and steamy day today. It is such different weather from what we had eleven years ago. Of course, even if it had been as uncomfortable as this weather, I might not have noticed. 

 

The day before John & Elsa’s wedding paired a lot of events with a relaxed attitude. Elsa had a definite mental image of what she wanted her wedding to be like – like Meg & John’s, in Little Women – and Saturday, September 2, 1989 reflected it.

I remember months before, when Elsa got a letter from Peggy soon after she and John had announced their engagement. I was napping in my room; she sat down to read it to me. She had hoped Peggy and Jack could make it to the wedding, but was prepared to understand if they could not. 

“They’re coming!” she yelped. 

Continuing to read, she practically leapt out of her chair. “And Jim and Renee are coming!!!” 

And a few seconds later, “And so is Karen!!!!” 

I threw off the covers & jumped up, then we did a little dance of joy around the bedroom, we were both so stunned and excited. 

All of the Peddicords came and all of the Ripleys, even David. The Ripleys had not seen Karen Peddicord Jackson, who lives in Nevada, for many many moons and ended up flying on the same plane all the way from San Francisco without any of them realizing they were in the same cabin with a Reynolds clan cousin. 

Saturday was filled with family and friends and magical moments. We had a smile-filled breakfast with the Peddicords. Jim & Renee and their girls and Karen were all staying at the nearby Marriott, but Jack & Peggy were camped out right across the street from our house, at Donnette and Garth Glenn’s (they gave us the use of the hall since they were at the shore that weekend). 

Elsa put the finishing touches on the nibblings and sippings she would serve that afternoon at a tea honoring her bridesmaids and all the women who had done so much work on her wedding. She was happy and calm. She also put the finishing touches on the Groomsmen’s Party that would be held at the same time across the street. The bride was a busy lady.

I cannot remember a single thing about the rehearsal. I know I was there, but not a thing comes to mind. 

After the rehearsal came the tea party and I do remember a lot about that. So many women and, of course, her four bridesmaids – Whitney, who was her maid of honor: Karen, who was her senior bridesmaid; Mackenzie Pitcairn, who’s been dear to our hearts since she was born; and Jamie Reeves, one of the children Elsa “baby watched”. Not a one was from Bryn Athyn, PA – Whitney was in her 2nd year at Barnard in NYC, Karen hailed from Australia, Mackenzie was living in Iowa and Jamie was just “down the street” a piece in Jenkintown. 

It was a happy, humming group that gathered afterward at our house. 

Elsa had ordered a beautiful cake from her favorite bakery – Bredenbeck’s in Chestnut Hill. Peter, who did an incredible job of being everywhere he needed to be plus a few places more, picked up the cake that morning along with a generous assortment of wedding day breakfast goodies the bride had ordered from Rolling in Dough at the Farmer’s Market. 

It was a really beautiful cake. Elsa had the four girls put their hands on hers to cut the first piece, which she gave to yours truly. Each of the girls were given a book – Ophelia’s World, A Little Princess, A Secret Garden and Corgiville Fair – and a box, each picked out for each girl. Each woman was given a Christmas ornament that Elsa had spent hours picking out, tailoring each gift to its recipient.

Even all these years later, I still feel gypped that while I took an after-party nap, Peggy, Karen and Elsa hightailed it across the street to the men’s party and had a high old time. 

Supper was take out – a Chinese banquet. John went to pick it up from China Bowl in Rockledge and Pam opted to go with him, to get a better idea of this fellow. 

While they were gone, the rest of us watched a video made earlier that summer of Peggy & Jack’s 40th (I think it was their 40th) surprise anniversary party out in Missouri. The guests were squirreled away out of their sight and the night before the party, we all gathered for steamed crabs which friends from Baltimore had flown out. The video said it all – while everyone around me was talking back and forth, there I was, happily picking my way through a great heap of crab. It was so much fun to watch the video with the whole family around, the Peddicords and myself giving a running commentary. 

One of my all-time favorite photos was taken by Elsa that evening. It is of Peter, Peggy and I, dishing out the Chinese food and laughing with complete happiness. It is a marvelous picture and captures the feeling of the evening. 

I almost forgot that Robert and Sue Smith, our neighbors, had us over earlier in the evening for cocktails. The whole of “Smithville” was in fine fettle. I called our cluster of abodes “Smithville” because Julie & Eunice Smith, Willie Smith, Phil & Mina Smith, and “Po” & Sue all shared our driveway. Smithville indeed.

Eleven years later, am still smiling at the memory of so much love and easy going happiness. That time felt and feels like it was other worldly, a gift to us all from a heavenly Host. Everyone made it happen and everyone seemed touched by its beauty and spiritual grace. I was, and am, blessed to have been part of it. 

I remember Lockharts and Peddicords and one Murphy lolling around the living room that night, having a high old time. John’s best man was there, too. It was another happy, happy day – and the best was yet to come.

Am off to what I am sure will be happy slumbers – Mrs. Raymond Lewis Lockhart

Film & Family – The 100-foot Journey

Film & I have fit together like a hand & glove since I discovered the joys of Leslie Howard, Ronald Colman & Warren William as a young child.  I woke up in the wee small hours of this morning, thinking about movies that I love that celebrate the heart, bones & community of FAMILY.  

The Hundred-Foot Journey  immediately came to mind, disturbing my rest as the joys of that film robbed me of sleep & filled me with fresh appreciation of its message of families – ones of flesh & blood, ones of kindred spirits, even ones of the work place, all of which are celebrated in this cinematic delight.

The film is a hymn from my heart.  It starts with an unimaginable family tragedy, sets surviving members on a journey into uncharted waters, has characters making leaps of faith that seem wildly irrational & are because they are heart-rooted,  intertwines talent & opportunity with bold action, elevates the improbable to the pursued to the fully realized.

It is, as my own experience has played out, LIFE as it unreels out when rooted (love that word) nurtured celebrated within by through the community of family & our family of communities.

It was an extraordinary night for me, with little sleep but a cavalcade of thoughts & images about first community & then family, then the two mixing matching interwining.

We can’t fake family, can’t manufacture it.  Family is what it is, whatever that is – of shared genetics, of shared interests, of shared work, of shared kinship of spirit.

Often, family shows up, unannounced yet as strongly linked as generations-long relatives.  Smiling, remembering how “Mom” Zeigler, mother of one of my dearest friends, a GUY, found me very suspect because her son was thiscloseto a gal who was not an in-law, who had no claim on his friendship through marriage.  Hearing about the relationship from far-off Iowa, she was leery of my intentions.  When she & “Dad” Zeigler finally came East to see just where their son & his wife had settled down, finally met me, she took one look, burst into a huge smile, wrapped me in one of the best hugs I’ve ever received, and proclaimed, “My goodness, you look more like my daughter than my daughter does.”  We’ve been close in heart, if not in distance. ever since – family that existed & only newly discovered.

Just as we are called to honor our parents – to see them as fully human, ergo fully flawed – we are called to see our birth family in the same way.  Some families, like the only apparently fish-out-of-water Kadams, are headed by strong parents, living & dead, tried by fire, thrown into situations requiring every smidgen of resiliency, tenacity & (literally) the seasonings of love.  Some are semi-dysfunctional, like the widowed Madame Mallory, who pours her love into gastronomy instead of people BUT ends up as tenderized as the meat in the boeuf bourguignon Hassan serves his father.  Others are open for what comes, providing support & encouragement as needed – like Marguerite.

It’s my experience that we start with the family we get;  learn to identify & appreciate its basic ingredients,  how to make them work together, what to add reduce eliminate; then bring in new features, new elements to achieve a more fully-rounded & realized recipe for personal family community happiness.

There is a wonderful, small moment in the film when Madame Mallory questions Hassan adding new seasonings to a classic sauce – she clearly loves the new flavor, yet questions going against tradition.

That is what all of us are called to do with our birth families – in order to let them become their best version, each member has to tweak it according to our tastes, hopefully producing an end result that all can at least appreciate & savor.

Whatever our “family of origin” situation, if we can respect its core ingredients, hold in our hearts that no one is setting out to sabotage us or it, accept that we’re each doing the best we can in any given moment given that moment’s realities for us, we can end up with something that might not be completely to our tastes yet fully satisfies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brothers

It’s sad when family relationships – even the rockiest – are stunted, cut short.  My own life is much happier for having kept doors open,  even when a better something seemed an impossible hope.

Been thinking about brothers a lot over the past 24 hours, about mine & how different our relationships have turned out than I would have guessed just a shade over ten years ago.

In 2007, I didn’t feel like I had any deep connection to any of my three brothers.

That changed first with the most improbable of the trio – with Ian, who died almost 60 years ago, when he was eleven & I was seven. Ten years ago this past spring.  – when I was 55 – we bonded.  Seriously!  I’d always assumed that Ian was as different from me as the rest of my sibs, but thanks to a combination of discoveries & fresh aha moments I made that spring, for the first time it clicked that “B-Boy” & I had similar natures & mutual  interests.

For years, a family joke has been that I married my brother, because my John seemed so much like Ian, but it took stumbling across those report cards & befriending a litter of feral kittens for the light to dawn that Ian & I were more alike than I’d ever imagined.

Ian was just four years older, while brother Mike (#2 🔆) was a long-stretch ten.  Mike joined the Navy straight out of high school, a couple years after Ian’s death, then bopped off on world travels between stints working for our father at Lockhart Lumber & Millwork.  I never really connected with my brother in his footloose & fancy-free days.

Alas, he married someone who – unbeknownst to me – experienced her younger s-i-l  as beyond irksome.  Took me 27 years to discover (the hard way)  what Mom knew since the early ’70s – that I stirred such deep dislike, as soon as I entered the same room, Kerry wanted to walk out.  OUCH!

When Kerry is not in the picture – when she  returned home to Australia a week before Mike after an early ’90s Christmas visit & when he visited solo several years ago for his 50th high school reunion – we connect.  Who knows where we will be ten years down the road?  Like MOTEL 6 , John & I will leave the light on.

Which leads to Peter.  Fourteen years older, it would be easy to assume we had the least contact over the years.  If only!  Peter has been a more or less constant presence throughout my life, weaving in & out of stays as his life circumstances ebbed & flowed, but always letting it be known  innate superiority put him on a different plain from us lesser lights  Peter talked big, but his life – to his baby sis – seemed… meager.  We had our share of dust ups – he expected to treated like a guest instead of a member of the family & I expected him to pull a fair share – but they’re back in the past.  Too little time left to waste any acting mingy.

While my relationship with Ian has improbably strengthened & deepened, am resigned to the possibility Mike & I might never connect as bro & sis.  As for Peter… It doesn’t matter to me that he still strikes his “kiss the ring” attitudes – if he wants or even just needs my support, it will be my sisterly pleasure to do what I can.

At 65, having lost more immediate family than remain, I’ve come to a place where just being a sisterly presence is enough- in fact, it is way more than I’ve expected over the years.  This mellower me is content with ALL that is, holding a sister’s love for near, far & in lofty realms beloved brothers.