A Short On My Brother and I

I started writing the below post 33 days ago, but couldn’t finish it because I wasn’t happy with it. Now, I’m pushing it out anyway. Between the “~” is the original post. Below that’s my commentary since the birthday has come and went and I’ve asked the opinion of my sister and my Father.


With a 15 year age difference, living apart for most of our lives, and different mothers*, my brother and I have quite a bit of a gap between us, without accounting for any ability to get along or not. And the last four years, I’ve not gotten along the best with my brother.

My opinion of him has oscillated between outright hating his guts (briefly) and being glad I have an older brother, even if just one. At this point though, I feel that my sister’s (then fiancee and now) husband’s been more of a brother to me than my own brother has.

The long story short, is that most of the time, my brother and I just don’t get along well. It’s been hard to bridge the gap. For the last four years, I’ve been focused on his side of the story. He did this. He did that. He married this women, of whom I’m no fan. At moments when I was angry, I was ready to cut him out of my life.

But I still call him every now and then. To keep in touch. I called him today and when he asked if I could make his birthday, I told him I couldn’t because of work. Then he told me that no one was showing up for it. Not his best friend, not my sister, not her husband, not me. His 40th birthday. I’m not even sure if his wife will make it ( they don’t live together yet, because of work circumstances).

The 40th birthday is a big deal.

I was talking to my sister about it, who is about to be in the same situation with her 30th birthday. I made an (in hindsight) insensitive remark about how no one was there for my 24th birthday, but she patiently pointed I was missing the point and explained that while my brother has been difficult, he has shown up. Whereas not many family members have shown up for his events. She asked me if I was going to show up to his graduation (he’s about to get his masters) and I had no idea when it was; never gave

Now I’m wondering if I’ve been the bad brother all along.


My father’s been trying to impress upon for me for the past couple of years, in between listening to me complain about my brother, that family is forever. Family will show up, when it’s important, even if they’re mad at you from last Saturday. Family will still pick up the phone when you call, even after it’s been months, if not years, since you last spoke. Family, generally will have your best interests at heart, if at least, make sure they don’t step on your toes. Family is the original safe space™. It’s why my Father still keeps in touch with his sister, despite her giving him plenty of reasons not to.

After talking to my sister and my Father, I’ve decided that I haven’t really been a good brother myself. I’ve been so caught up in how my own brother’s been wronging me, that I’ve not been receptive when he’s done me right. I’ve not made any real effort to build any inroads myself. I’ve made to no real effort to bridge the large gape that exists between us.

Neither of us has been a terrible brother.

I still call him about once a month, and I’m happy with that for now.

But once he gets his housing in order, I plan to visit him once a year. Perhaps in Spring.

I wish him and his all the best.



Family is Different

On the way back home, in the back of my father’s car, he told me the rest of a story he could not include in his speech at the reception, following TAPs and the internment of the urn at the funeral.

“When I was younger, around seven years old, I got my first look at what family looks like.

We [my Dad and his family] had just moved to a new neighborhood. Your aunt Minny and I, ran around the town and went through the woods exploring. We came up on a house where the basement was slightly above ground level and there was a window through which you could see in. I saw a girl inside and tapped on the window.

Now – at the time, there was thief on the loose in town who had been at large for several months. The girl inside the house screamed for her dad and seconds later the front door of that house burst open. Your Aunt Minny bolted straight for home. Now she’d probably tell you today that she was smarter than I was and figured out what that noise probably was. I however, stuck around, figuring that I had done no wrong and would figure things out or talk rationally to the man.A couple seconds later, when the man turned the corner, he was running at full speed and looked very mad. At this, I turned around and ran as fast as I could home.

I got roughly to the driveway before the man caught up to me and picked me up. And just then my front door burst open. Turns out my sister had run past the house and then ran back and into the basement saying “Daddy, a man’s got Patrick!”

At that point, I had never seen my father run before, as his leg was bad due to injuries from the war.

He looked madder than the man who was holding me. Unsure of what to do, that man dropped me to the ground. My father was shorter than the man. Yet he ran up, lifted the man up with one hand and raised his right.

“Mike! Don’t do it. You’ll kill the man”, my mother screamed out the window, “He’s a neighbor! He’s a neighbor!”

My father put the man down and said, “I don’t care who you are. You don’t touch my family”.

That morning I got a spanking in the basement which surprised me, I’ll say.*

Later, I asked my Dad, “Gee Dad, were you really about to punch that man?”

“Of course”, he replied, “Family is different.”


*My father added a comment:

Only factual error was that I had got the spanking the morning of the incident, not the next morning.

That’s was what surprised me most, and also made me realize that family was different/special – I had thought that my Dad was mad at me and maybe didn’t love me (because I was a “bad boy”).  But, when outside trouble came – he was clearly my Dad, on my side, and ready to do battle on my behalf, regardless of internal discipline matters.”

Memento Mori

Just the other day, I attended the funeral of my late grandfather. He had served through the second world war and ate thirteen bullets for his troubles. One of the bullets went through his head and several went through one his legs, crippling him and any athletic ambitions after the war. Despite that, he outlived all of the doctors who told him he would die after the way and clung stubbornly to life until the ripe old age of 89.

Leading up the funeral, I had done a lot of thinking. People say that once your parents die, you begin to come to grips with your own mortality. With the death of my last grandfather, I’ve started to come to grips with the mortality of my parents, of whom I’ve grown quite fond of in the last couple decades. With my increasing ability to understand the world around me and communicate the ideas from my head to people, I’ve developed a healthy rapport and mutual respect with my parents that I didn’t have even four years ago.

In his memory, I’ll dedicate this week’s posts to him.