There is one thing that I keep saying I’m at peace with and I don’t think I truly am. My brother, Richard, is as different from me as night is to day. I’m the younger by three years and yet I was always the older. I never felt his protective presence. We grew up on a ranch in the middle of nowhere. If you’ve heard of Las Vegas, NM you are in a vast minority. If you’ve heard of Montezuma, NM you probably grew up in Las Vegas, NM or attend the World College that is now there. You would think that that isolation would have made us closer. It didn’t. My brother had a hint of cruelty, a hardness even then. My uncle told me that when I was two he had to take the baseball bat out of my brother’s hands to stop him from hitting me over the head with it. I remember him taking and breaking my things and feeling more alone with him, rather than less.
I try to find kind stories, good memories to tell my niece, his oldest daughter and the only one of the three that I know. Well, actually, just as with his oldest daughter I met his middle daughter when she was a toddler I’m hoping I may meet her again as an adult and get to know her and her sister. In any case, I don’t have many of those good old stories. My brother pretty much quit speaking to me when I was 18 and occasionally will decide to honor me with his words but that is a pretty rare occurrence.
As best as I can tell he quit talking to me because I “chose” my dad’s 2nd wife, who I did and still do consider my step-mom, over him. How did I do that, you might ask. The answer is as insane as my entire life with my brother. He wanted to take my TV – this was back in 1987 and I had a color TV that I had bought with my own money when I was 15. I was living in Australia at the time and knew that my step-mom would feed my baby sister in my room watching that TV. When I told him no, during a phone call that was as rare as it was short. Back then it was incredibly expensive to call internationally $20 dollars would give me about 5 minutes.
I know how ridiculous that sounds. I couldn’t understand it myself even knowing my brother. When I cane home for my summer break he literally would not talk to me. We were in the same room. He talked to every one else. I would ask him questions and pretend to answer for him, just for kicks. Over the years he has started talking to me on occasion and then I or my mum would do something that he didn’t see as acceptable.
I would be surprised by a call and he would ask why I wasn’t married. How I was supposed to have kids if I didn’t get married. He could never understand that my life was defined by own happiness and I did not need a man or a child to get me there. He did invite me to his 2nd wedding, which was one of the most bizarre experiences I’ve had. I didn’t meet my brother’s new wife until after they were married. It was the last family affair that we had, kind of. His wife Lydie did not even now that we had a little sister, who was not to much older than his oldest daughter. Both my parents were there – the first time they were in the same room with each other since they were divorced. Amazingly, it was fun but very stressful. My brother’s best friend from high school was there and with a couple of other friends we had fun dancing after my brother was forced into that first dance. We also worked hard to avoid the non-alcoholic champagne. My dad disappeared quickly and afterwards, mum and I got very drunk on very good martinis. That was about it. The next time I saw him his middle daughter was about 2. They came to the airport when mum and I were heading off on a trip or something, back when people could come through security even though they weren’t flying.
I’ve seen him once since and that was when we tried to get my dad away from his 3rd wife. His health had gotten bad and his addiction to drugs makes it worse and when I talked to him last he had been house bound for years. He has degenerative disc disorder. He was approved for a scooter to help him get around and wouldn’t take the steps necessary to actually get it because he was embarrassed. I’ll write another time about how he blew up our chance to get more than a very few things out of my dad’s house but after mum died he had no feelings that he expressed to me. I actually had to tell him through that friend from the wedding.
He did call me once. It happened to be after my beautiful niece worked up the courage to try to call her dad. He answered and told her to never call again. She was pretty devastated. She hasn’t seen or talked to her dad since she was three. She’s written him a letter. He never responded. So anyway, he called me because he’d missed a hearing about dad’s estate and so things were decided not in his favor and he was kind of surprised by it all and wanted me to explain it to him. I wasn’t cooperative. I was so furious with how he had treated his daughter that I lit into him with more anger than I’ve probably ever shown him. I don’t yell at people often. I told him I was done and I hung up on him. I felt guilty after and asked my cousin to try to call him so he would know that family was still there but he didn’t answer. My brother doesn’t answer his phone and he doesn’t have voicemail. Last I knew he didn’t have a cell phone and he doesn’t really use or trust computers.
I want to be done. I am pretty sure I will never see my brother again. I’m pretty sure I will never talk to him again. I want to be okay with that. But I also miss the dream of my brother. I want him to change I want him to be there for me. I want to be able to be there for him. I want him to miss my mum as much as I do. I think he misses my dad. He’s never been the brother I wanted but I want him to be a father to my niece. I want to know my other nieces but I’m not sure that I ever will. I have a small family and I always want more than I seem able to get but I do have my niece. It’s the greatest gift he’s ever given to me and her I get to keep. She should have grown up with us. She should have know the grandmother that she is so alike. I miss that. I miss what I lost.