The Myth of Brotherly Love
I had always wanted a sibling. I used to wish for one during those inane excursuses in grade school where you'd list your three wishes. I’d seen those shows during the 70’s feeding me the myth of brotherly and sisterly love. Well, not exactly a myth. As an adult I’d actually seen how close some siblings were. And I knew that sometimes the relationships could be nasty.
But still, I’d imagined someone at my graduation, my wedding, being there while our parents aging, protecting me when they were gone. These seemed like things that even "bad" siblings would do for the sake of sisterly love.
I actually do have a brother. But, he’s a generation older than me, a reformed hippy. He was the "real" child of our mother, conceived in the backseat of a 1947 Oldsmobile. And he has nothing in common - neither genetically nor personality-wise - with me.
He had suffered from self inflicted poverty and alcoholism. He has intimacy problems. And he is severely sarcastic.
When our mom died - "his" mom - he’d barely held it together. "Still pregnant sis?" had been the most comforting thing he’d managed to say to me. I was, indeed, still pregnant, thank you for asking.
He wasn’t interested in either of my graduations since I was just a child and he was busy living his adult life. He’d not found the opportunity to make it to my wedding either and couldn't remember me being at his; I’d been seven. By the time I had kids, his were long out of the house and far from his mind. So mine learned never to be remembered by their Uncle.
"You’re brother was severely damaged as a child!"
These words were confessed by my ailing father the week before he died. That might have been funny - a sister-to-brother kind of joke - except that I knew it was true. I knew the horrible circumstances in which my brother had suffered before our mother married our dad; his mentally ill grandmother abused him on a daily basis. My father had been his savior. And for that my brother loved him with all of his heart.
But I had suffered my own damage. Removed from squalid and unnamable circumstances at two years old, I had been institutionalized and labeled "autistic." Except for an unusually forward-thinking doctor taking me in as a foster child and finding me a family, I would not have had much hope. As it was, I had no language skills when I arrived at my new family's home. And it took another whole year before I came "out" of wherever had been hiding. My father had saved me too and I loved him with all my heart.
Despite my damage though, somehow I was here, sitting next to our dad in the hospital. As I’d sat with him countless times in the ER. And had spent months with him during a previous recovery. But I was here, alone. And the burden of bringing our dad home to die was mine, alone.