Last night was an interesting one for me, conversing via the internet with family members far away.
Somewhere way back at the start of this blog I’ve shared some of my early life so I don’t suppose I’ll rehash it all here and now, but I guess you have to know a little about it for this to make any sense.
My mother had been married at least once before her marriage to my father, and from that marriage she had two children – my big sister Karen, and my big brother Donny. My mothers marriage to my father didn’t last long at all, and they separated when I was somewhere around the age of one. Nah, don’t go offering condolences and all of that, because for me this was the normal way of things, and it was you people with both parents together in the house that were the freaks.
My father was a major alcoholic that liked to abuse his children and his wives, both physically and mentally, and so it was fortunate that with a few exceptions, I spent most of my young years with my mother, sister, and brother. Now the down side is, my mother went through marriages like most of us go through cars. Now that I think of it, I’d be pretty damned pleased if I could get a new car as often as she found new husbands. Don’t get me wrong, though I might question her judgment in marrying them in the first place, I’m not blaming my mother for the marriages coming to an end – most of these guys really were jerks or worse. I suppose the point is, I grew up seeing that the men in my life came and went, were generally less than honorable, and I had no desire to be anything at all like them. I have of course learned since that time that there are a good deal of decent men out there, but by then it was too late and the damage was done . . .
The flip side of that is that most of the women in my life were strong personalities. My grandmother, who often had all of us living in her home, to include my cousins. She worked like a dog to provide for us when we needed it and that woman would literally storm through hell itself if that was what it took to take care of children. She was a formidable woman and I’m sure the devil himself would have backed down from a confrontation with her. I suppose her only major drawback as regards my life, is that due to her own life experiences, and what she had seen her daughters and grand daughters go through, she really appeared to hate men and she wasn’t at all shy about saying so. It was not at all unusual to have something set her off, and you would hear her mumbling “God damned no good for nothing men!” under her breath. Countless times she would shake her finger towards my brother and I “So help me God, if either of you boys hurts a girl, I’ll kill you!”
My mother, who struggled with serious health problems from birth, was strong in some of her own ways as well. Her doctors were constantly astounded that she had managed to walk for most of her life, despite their dire predictions that she would always require crutches and wheel chairs. My mother was very open minded, loved to learn, and despite her lack of a formal education, I’m fairly sure she would have qualified as a genius had she ever been tested. Ironic considering that much like myself, she did some remarkably stupid things for someone reasonably intelligent, but I suppose that’s for a different story.
Now we come to my sister, who despite the long winded text above was really the main point of this post. In many ways, my big sister was very similar to my grandmother – fairly opinionated and very strong willed. She was well known in our town, at least by those any where close to our own age. Though she might try and argue about it today, she was drop dead gorgeous, and I do mean heart stopping beautiful. When you combine that with a strong personality, who knew what she wanted, knew what she was and was not willing to accept, and who would most definitely get in your face if you got between her and her goal, she was a truly awesome force to behold. In a world where I was tossed back and forth from my mother to father, moving from school to school where I had little chance to develop friendships, my sister was always one of the few constant and stable things in my life. Always there, always taking care of me, always someone I was so very happy to have and hold.
When I joined the Army and was drunk, or depressed, or both, it was always my sister I called. Over and over she would listen to me and give me something to hold on to and for. When I couldn’t afford to fly home for Christmas, it was my sister that bought my flights, never asking me to repay her though I’m sure she couldn’t afford it any better than I could. When I got out of the army briefly, it was my sister that helped to get me a job. When I needed an apartment, it was my sister that made it possible. When ever I needed someone, my sister was there.
My sister is, and has always been, my biggest hero, and last night I told her what I am. My sister reacted as she always has – she loves me.
Here’s some irony for you. I’ve wanted to tell her for more than a year, but just felt that I had already burdened her with enough in my life and didn’t want to add any more to the load I’ve already placed on her. It wasn’t a question of trust, it was a question of whether I had the right to ease my own mind at the expense of placing a load on hers. None the less, the thought has haunted me to the point of obsession lately, with my stomach flip flopping every time I thought about it. Last night I discovered that all of that was for nothing because she has known for years. It seems that the very same mother that warned me that it would be a bad idea to tell my sister because her husband might not deal well with it, told my sister herself shortly after I’d told her. That was a lot of years of anguish and anxiety on my part for absolutely nothing.
Did I mention how cool my sister is?
OK, so now let’s back up a bit. You recall my mother and father separated? Well, my father also remarried and had more children, including another son – my half brother. Much later in life, well in to adulthood, he and I found each other and our families shared holidays with each other for years. Unfortunately his marriage came to and end in an ugly divorce, and his wife moved away with his daughter. Considering how I had grown up, I desperately tried to find them so I could keep in touch with his daughter, wanting her to know that she was not alone in the world and that someone out here loved her. I came close a couple of times through the years, but never managed to actually find her. Last night I found this young lady on facebook and we spoke for many hours.
She is now just short of 18 years old and has had a fairly hard life. Despite this, she has managed to approach graduation with a 4.0 average. She is beautiful, intelligent, well mannered, and with a positive attitude and spirit – all traits I think I’ve made it clear here that I admire. I am so deeply sorry that I failed to find her earlier in her life, as I think she has indeed thought no one on her fathers side of the family cared about her. I suppose that there is nothing to be done about that at this point, but I’ve found her now.
Did I mention that last night was an interesting one?