I grew up in what I always thought was a pretty close family. I mean we shared all the traditional things but we also seemed to have a bond that went beyond traditions, or so I thought. My parents were big “family” people. I think Mom enjoyed the holidays because it meant she got to cook for days, decorate the house and all because she knew that it was going to be enjoyed by us kids and dozens of family friends. I can remember the look on her face as she watched our eyes light up over a Thanksgiving dinner, or a lit Christmas Tree. It was this look that said, “this is what family is about”.
Now that both her and Dad are gone, something is missing from this family. Something tangible, that has left us each with a void that can’t seem to be filled. I don’t know why or even when it happened but we have each removed the other from our lives. We have become related strangers for the most part, and were Mom and Dad here to see this they would both be heart-broken.
I have spent considerable time trying to figure out how people raise in the same family, with the same beliefs, traditions, and role models could turn out so differently. I know that my brothers feel resentment, or maybe even a bit of envy, because they believe I had a different kind of life than they did growing up, but I don’t think that they have ever stopped to consider that my life was void of the one thing I always wanted most, siblings. They were both so much older that it was like have 4 parents instead of 2. I would have given my right arm to have brothers that I could hang out with like my friends did, but instead I was for all intents and purposes an “only child” growing up. The chances of me bonding with them were pretty slim because they couldn’t get past the fact that I was just a little kid. Don’t get me wrong, I know they loved me but it wasn’t the kind of love siblings share. It was the kind one would expect of a parent or guardian so there was none of the “sharing secrets”, having each other back, late nights of laughter, school friends, etc. They were the “adults” not “friends” and I had been taught to respect the adults in my life.
True, as the years progressed the age differences between us seemed to shrink but at the same time the personal distance between us seemed to grow and we shared even less of our lives with one another. All those years I had spent telling myself that when we were all adults things would be better just never seemed to come true. Now with us all in our 50’s and 60’s they can look back and recall memories of having a childhood together, while I look back and recall hours, days, months and years of having no one. I wonder if they ever stop to think about that?
What makes me the saddest is that I know nothing I say or do is going to change any of this. The distance is to great and the desire to low. We have each found solace in blaming the other and allowed that to excuse our behavior. At least when Mom and Dad were still alive we offered the appearance we knew would make them happy, but now I don’t think even a blow torch could melt the icebergs we have built and I have just stopped trying. Their lives are theirs, as mine is mine. I won’t say I regret anything but I am sorry for many things. I know this is not what Mom and Dad would ever have wanted for any of us. It’s not what they taught us yet its how we have allowed ourselves to end up.
LIFE LESSON: No man is an island who can claim true happiness.