Thursday, September 14, 2006

Love Thursday: Brother from another mother

For reasons that aren’t mine to share here, and that aren’t necessarily my business, and that I don’t even completely know anyway, I have three half-siblings that I never knew. My dad and their mother divorced when they were very young, well before I was born. Although my dad supported them financially, he was never part of their life.

I’ve always known this—I don’t remember when I first learned it—but it was rarely discussed. So of course I asked myself What are they like? and Do they wonder about me? and Will we ever meet? It was baffling because I believed then, and still do, that my dad was an excellent father. How could he have agreed to something like this? What kind of circumstances led to such an awful result? I’ve never wanted to ask for an explanation—never want to make him face those days again, or to feel like I was questioning his love for me or them.

The youngest of the three, my brother C., stayed close to my grandmother and uncle. A few years ago he contacted my father. He was going through a divorce and looking, I guess, for support and advice as he went through the same trauma that had torn his own family apart when he was only a baby. They gingerly began reconstructing a relationship, first via e-mail, then phone calls, and finally a real visit. My dad met the son he hadn’t seen for 40 years and the four grandchildren he’d never known.

Then this summer, a series of lucky coincidences separately brought my brother, sister, and me (my full siblings, the ones I’ve been stuck with all along) to the Western town where C. now lives. We each had the chance to finally meet him.

We loved him. We loved his girlfriend. We loved his kids. Once, twice, three times, they welcomed us—in my case, my whole family, plus an additional family of four!—with easy, effortless hospitality and affection. The kids called my brother “the brother from another mother” of the title. They called my sister “Half-Aunt Susan.” (Unfortunately, that’s where their creativity ended and I didn’t get a cool name.) C. is fun, smart, successful, and clearly a great dad. His girlfriend, S., has developed an amazing relationship with C.’s children. The kids, who range in age from barely 6 to 15, are universally good-natured, clever, and well behaved. Which I honestly find incredible in a group that includes two teenagers, not to mention the difficult divorce they’ve been dealing with, if you’ll excuse my grammar.

So I love my new big brother. I’m sad that I won’t see him and my nieces and nephews often. But I’m doing my best to celebrate the gift of reconnection and forgiveness we’ve all been granted.


mothergoosemouse said...

I second how amazing C. and S. and all the kids are. I felt incredibly honored to be invited to their home, and we were welcomed with open arms.

bubandpie said...

My dad was married before he married my mother, but there were no children from that marriage. I often wondered what my life would have been like if he did have another family. I guess my children will probably wonder the same thing, since I came into this marriage with a childless marriage behind me.

A weird and wonderful story, Mayberry!

mamatulip said...

I love this post -- I have two 'brotha's from a different motha' and I have only ever considered them to be my brothers.

Happy Love Thursday. :)

Kari said...

Interesting dynamics. And it really makes you think about people's characters: how they can change, how they can overcome assumptons, and so forth.

It is so great when unknowns end up being more comfortable than initial assumptions.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

What a crazy story!

My husband's older brother and sister have a different dad. He wasn't much in the picture as my husband was growing up. However the brother & his biological dad are so, so similar. They walk the same way, their build is the same, their laugh is the same. Very eerie.

TB said...

What a gift to be given more people in your family that are kind and loving and supportive. We could all use as many people like that in our lives as possible, related by blood, or not.

And how wonderful that everyone was open and accepting of people they had never met before.

Stephanie said...

There's a tragedy there in the lost years, and there's a triumph there in the connection you have now.

That's always the way it is: beauty from ashes.