It was August and my mum was dying from pancreatic cancer. Our family wanted to say goodbye so we were using a joint birthday as a focus to allow everyone to get together. It was my birthday and kind of mums. Her real birthday was in May but she hated it – too many bad things had happened around it. So I had decided a few years before, and she agreed, that we would share mine. She always wanted to celebrate mine.
We were planning to celebrate at my cousin’s place in CA. That was where we always go. It’s the Oasis. As we tried to come up with a guest list mum began to balk. She didn’t want people to come to say goodbye. She hated the idea. The guest went from 8 to 20 back to 8 to nothing.
That was when our miracle happened. My brother was never more than a passing figure in our lives. He would get mad at us for not giving in to everything he wanted. After my dad died he talked to me for a while. He let me fund the fight to get anything from my dad’s widow. Then when we had n compromise that was horrible in the sense she got about everything but that was going to happen anyway but this would let our mom into the house to get personal things and some very valuable items. Most importantly it was going to see if we could get some of the things that meant most to our baby sister. Richard suddenly objected. It was because of mum. He said horrible things about her. I protected her from that. In her dying months she didn’t need to know how her son despised her or said he did. Maybe now he regrets not reaching out. He doesn’t talk to me so I won’t know.
Anyway my brother is in his 2nd marriage. He had a daughter with his first wife. He cut her out of his life and ours when she was three. My cousin, Michael, is big into genealogy and he found her. My beautiful niece Kristen was brave enough at 20 to get on a plane and come to meet an entire family at once. It was a miracle we found her when we did. With her coming it became a welcoming party rather than a goodbye. From that day she has been a constant and powerful presence in my life. She checks in with me and checks up on me. She is my gift from my brother.
Kristen and Alex, my baby sister, from my dad’s 2nd marriage came together. Alex is a whole six years older than Kristen. They fit perfectly into the mix of my cousin’s kids. It was a perfect night in a perfect weekend. At the end of the weekend mum said it was the best weekend of her life. The gift of her granddaughter made it that way.