Family is Forever
My older brother’s birthday passed at the end of January, and I just wanted to take a few minutes to talk about him, our relationship, our heritage, and what he means to me.
I’m really glad to have my older brother in my life. Personally, I think a lot of people take their families for granted, but I know I never will. My brother is the best, most supportive, accepting, loving brother anyone could ever ask for, and I’m glad he’s mine. I’m grateful to even have a relationship with him, because for most of my life, I never thought I’d meet him.
We didn’t grow up like normal siblings, in the same house, with both of our parents – for one, he’s 13 years older than me. For another thing, we have different mothers. I always knew he was my brother though. I never knew where he was, but I knew he was out there somewhere, and I hoped that maybe someday we’d get to meet. But he didn’t know anything about his biological father’s family, or that he had siblings, until he was much older.
Just as my brother found out the truth, it seemed it was too late. Our father was dying. By the time he found out, he had no time to meet him, no time to say goodbye. I barely got there in time. So now, my brother is getting to know who our dad was through me. And that helps us both.
My dad was an amazing dad. And one thing he never forgot was his kids’ birthdays. Every year, on each of my sibling’s birthdays, he would ask me, “You know what today is, right? It’s your brother/sister’s birthday.” And he would tell me how old they were. A few times, he even took me out for ice cream on my siblings’ birthdays, like we would have celebrated the day with them if we were all together. I think that was one of his dreams, for all of his kids to be reunited as a family and to know he loved them.
Anyway, I really love being able to share everything with my brother. Sometimes, especially since our dad died, it feels like he’s the only one who can understand. I can be completely open and honest with him. A lot of people don’t understand our Muscogee heritage, or they don’t care to take the time to, and that’s kind of hard. Sometimes, like when I’m with my mom’s family or my in-laws, I feel like talking about my culture is wrong, and that they wish I could hide it, only, you can’t do much about the color of your skin. I never felt like that before my dad died, and no one really said anything to me about it before he died, either. But they have since. I’ve never blended in with them, and my brother is in kind of the same situation.
My brother is learning as much as he can from me about our heritage, and we’re learning a lot together too. I try to tell him as much as I can remember about family stories our dad told us, but there’s so much he told me that I couldn’t remember. It’s good that I can share things with my brother, because it helps me remember our dad and the that way he was. Most of our dad’s family is gone, and we’re just remembering them through pictures; it’s really only us and a few cousins that we don’t know very well.
Meeting my brother was a slow process. After his mom got in contact with us, we eventually became friends on Facebook. I think I may have written him an actual letter or two and sent it through the mail. We talked for a while there, and then we exchanged phone numbers and we eventually started talking over the phone regularly. Now, we mostly text. About a month after our first phone conversation, I became engaged. I invited my brother and his family to the wedding, and they made plans to come. I ‘officially’ met him two days before the wedding, and it was definitely what I needed.
Since then I’ve seen him one other time, and that was about two months ago when I spent a week with him, my sister-in-law, and their boys shortly before Christmas. That was the best week. I went ice skating and had a snow ball fight with my nephews. We had so much fun.
What I love about our relationship is that we both grew up as an only child, but even if we had’ve been around each other before, it still would have been basically that way because of our age difference. We’re so alike. But even though we didn’t grow up together, we know each other so well it’s like we were never apart. And I love that.
But I really love and appreciate my brother. He’s hoping to get to come to Florida this summer because his mom and dad (the guy he’s always called ‘Dad’) are retiring to Florida and moving back. So I’m pretty excited, because that means I get to see all of them again.
We’ve also been tentatively talking about a family vacation later in the year, so I’m really hoping for that to happen.
Take from this whatever you want. But coming from someone that never really had a ‘nuclear sibling’, I can assure you, you’ll never value your siblings until you know that you have them, but you may never get to meet them. We may not get to talk and see each other as often as we’d like, but I’ll never take my family for granted.