My sister in law posted a comment on a facebook post this morning. My brother originally posted a question concerning some plans for summer. There were several posts and at one point, I asked if a comment was for me or my other brother. My sister in law’s comment went something like this, “It is for T—-,B—,G—,B—,B—, (names withheld) or whoever is talking to each other.” I decided to delete the comment because I am ultimately a caretaker and avoider of conflicts. Afterwards I was angry with myself for doing that. So I am going to take a risk today and share what is on my heart and mind.
I still have a part of me that lives in a beautiful fantasyland where I am the fair young maiden living in an ideal world. I have loving parents and many siblings. I am married to my handsome prince and we do many brave and powerful things to help our kingdom. Then the phone rings or another driver blows there horn to remind me to focus on my real life.
Most children find out they are going to be a big brother or sister when their parents sit down and share the exciting news with them. That is not exactly how it worked for me; no, not even close. I have seven brothers and sisters. I am the oldest of all the children and I am an only child. Let me confuse you a bit more. My mother is my sister, my brother is my uncle, and my father is my brother’s brother so I think that makes him my brother.
I was the first-born child of my father and mother. I know that seems obvious but I have to start somewhere. My brother Mike came 18 months later. When I was four and my brother was two my parents split. My maternal grandmother and step grandfather adopted me. My parental grandparents adopted my brother. I stayed in South Carolina and Mike lived in West Va. I soon forgot I had a brother.
At the age of six, they told me Uncle Joe was coming to visit. I soon met Uncle Joe and his wife and two little girls. He would visit our home and I would visit their home from time to time. Uncle Joe was in the Navy and they soon moved away. When I was eight, my grandmother informed me that Uncle Joe was actually my father. She also dropped the big news that I had a brother and we were going to drive to West Va. and visit him. That’s some pretty big news to drop on an eight year old.
When we went to visit, I informed my brother that “Uncle Joe” wasn’t his brother (the lie he had been told) but our daddy. I knew my biological mother because she would call and write me. I also filled him in on that part. Need I say that all hell broke loose in the very small rural farm community in Flat Top, West Va.?
My father and his wife eventually had five children together. I‘ve had on and off again relationships with all of them. I keep up with two of the kids on facebook. I haven’t talked with the youngest since he was teen. One sister I am told, “hates my guts” and wants nothing to do with me. I am very close to one of the brothers. We have always seemed to have a connection. We are very much alike and think that may be what draws us together. As my sister-in-law indicated in her comment, you need a scorecard at times to know who is talking to each other.
When I was 25 years old, I received a call from a young woman. She said she was an old friend of my mother’s and wondered if I knew how to contact her. I was skeptical and didn’t give her any information. A few minutes after the call ended, she called back.
“I lied to you a few minutes ago. I want to tell you the real reason I called. I want to talk to Claudia (my mother) because she is my mother.”
I am not sure how long I stood there before answering her. “I’m sorry. Did you say Claudia was your mother?”
She went on to tell me her story. A family in Chicago had adopted her. Her uncle was a lawyer and handled the adoption. He still had information about her biological mother and she used that information for her search. Claudia had never mentioned having a baby to anyone. Jill and I met a few months later and we still have a relationship today.
I told you about my beautiful fantasy world. As a child, I traveled there quite often but I don’t visit as often as I used. I have learned to accept the reality of life. Buying birthday cards is often a sad reminded of lost relationships. I can’t get a card specific for brothers and sisters. Most come with sentimental statements about shared memories and experiences. I often dream of a big family reunion, but I believe we would need Dr. Phil, Oprah, Jerry Springer, and a swat team to pull it off.
I know that two of my siblings read my blogs. I hope they know I love them and I want to be the big sister they can lean on. We may not share the lifetime of experiences most siblings do, but we are family. I wish I could sit and talk with each of them, hug them, and tell them I love them. I wish I could throw my magic pixie dust and make all the pain and hurt go away.
I have struggled with this post today. I am a writer. I want to tell my story, but I was taught to keep secrets and not to tell. I have started writing my story so many times, but I keep stopping and throwing it away. I am afraid I will hurt someone or make him or her angry. I am afraid of what people will think. I can’t do that anymore. I can’t let the past win.
I am going to follow the wisdom of my favorite author, “Remember that you own what happened to you. If your childhood was less than ideal, you may have been raised thinking that if you told the truth about what really went on in your family, a long bony white finger would emerge from a cloud and point to you, while a chilling voice thundered, “We *told* you not to tell.” But, that was then. Just put down on paper everything you can remember now about your parents and siblings and relatives and neighbors, and we will deal with libel later on.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life