Sunday July 6th, 2014 – Watertown, WI
2014 has been nothing short of a blockbuster personal year for me, and at the moment nothing else matters. It’s easy to take positive things for granted, and I think we all make that mistake on a regular basis. We focus on what we don’ t have and would like to rather than our greatest gifts.
Since my earliest childhood memories, all I wanted was to fit in with a family. Playing the role of the outsider grows old in a hurry, and I grew weary of it so long ago I can’t remember exactly when it was. All I know is what I wanted more than anything was to connect with my siblings.
I realize no family is perfect, but a lot of them I’ve seen are extremely close and there’s a sense of belonging and acceptance that I know I’ve missed for so long. It’s been unbelievably lonely to have gone through much of my life without that support structure, but I’m making up for it now.
Meeting up with my sister Tammy last month was a priceless gift. We got to say anything we’d ever maybe left unsaid, and there was no animosity or lingering soap opera story lines. We had a coming together for the first time as adults, and I know it’s going to be a permanent connection.
Today I drove to Watertown, WI to visit my brother Larry and his son Jake. Larry wanted to be at Tammy’s last month but he couldn’t make it. I think it worked out for the best because it was a chance for Tammy and me to clear any personal business we may have needed to. It was perfect.
Larry and I had our chance today, and it went exactly the same way. We hung out for the same five hour block of time Tammy and I did, but that was totally unintentional. I happened to notice the clock on my phone both times when I got in my car, and was amazed at how fast time flew.
While Tammy and I had our various minor issues over the years, I don’t ever remember Larry and me arguing, fighting, raising a voice or having a single cross word. Ever. He’s one of if not the most peaceful human souls I have ever known, and I appreciate him more now that I haven’t been in touch with him for so long. Getting to spend time with him today was a splendid treat.
I wasn’t going to jump on him for not staying in contact. That’s just the way he is. He’s got his own personal Mt. Everest of life problems to climb, and I knew it was nothing I did. I hoped we would be able to finally get back in contact, and now that we have I won’t ever let it lapse again.
Larry took the lion’s share of the abuse from our father. That poor kid took so many punches as a child – and for no reason other than our father was a sick mean spirited bully that needed to get help - none of us thought he’d ever make it to his 18th birthday. But he took it, and never bitched.
I don’t remember hearing Larry say even one negative or unkind word about the vicious son of a bitch, but I do recall him laughing pretty hard as kids when I came up with a nickname “Darth Father”. I think he may have felt ashamed for laughing, but he did anyway and I’m glad he did.
No child deserves to take as many cruel beatings as he did – especially when he did nothing to deserve them except being born at the wrong time to the wrong parents. I may have had issues of my own living with my grandparents, but it wasn’t that. My heart has always gone out to Larry.
We all felt horrible for him. Something of little to no real significance would infuriate the old man, and we all knew Larry would eventually have to take the beating. Some were much worse than others, but those bad ones still make me wince. I can still hear those screams, and I cringe.
Larry’s childhood was basically a forced labor camp. Our father was a notoriously cheap prick, and decided that wood heat was all that was needed. He forced Larry to cut the wood supply for the winter, and that’s basically all he did when he had any free time. What a waste of childhood.
Did Larry complain? He did what he was told, and all he wanted was to please that bag of shit. This went on for years, and no matter what problems I faced I always thought of Larry and knew that could have been me. I wouldn’t have handled it so peacefully, and I think the old man knew.
Larry eventually moved to Watertown, WI from Milwaukee, as that’s where quite a few of our mother’s family is from. Larry knows our mother way better than Tammy or I do, and he doesn’t have any ill feelings against her either. I’m telling you, he’s one of the calmest souls I ever met.
By all accounts, he probably should be in prison for a six state killing spree by now but he has worked at the same company for thirty five years and tried his best to carve out a life for himself. He’s a WONDERFUL father, and although he doesn’t have much whatever he does have goes to his son Jake and his daughter Gina. He tells them he loves them constantly – and really means it.
We went to have some pizza, and Jake was asking Larry about the material I do on my comedy CD about my brother beating me up all the time. Larry looked at him with a somber face and put his hand on Jake’s shoulder. “I sure did son, and BOY was it fun. Your uncle DESERVED it!”
Jake’s eyes got big, and Larry and I burst into laughter. I assured Jake it was only for comedic purposes, but even if he did beat me up I probably did deserve it. I didn’t go into detail about the beatings Larry took all those years, and it’s not my business. If Larry wants to share that, he will.
What I was able to share with Larry was some one on one time after we ate. Jake left us alone, as he knew we needed some time to reconnect. I told Larry I loved him and was proud of him for how he played the rotten hand of cards life dealt him. I told him he was a class act of the highest order, and I was proud to have him as my brother. The look on his face said it all. We both wept.
He shared some very deep thoughts, and said he still has nightmares about his childhood to this day. He told me he was filled with rage but channeled it by getting into martial arts. He’s nobody to mess with, and can pretty much handle himself with anyone walking the planet. He never uses it to show off, and never provokes anyone. He told me if he hadn’t gone into that he’d be dead.
I don’t think I could have absorbed Larry’s childhood, and I’m glad I didn’t have to. Mine was a difficult enough challenge, and I’m still mopping up the mess. Tammy has her own dung heap to navigate around, but at least now we can all help and encourage each other with the struggle.
The wonders these meetings are working inside my soul are miraculous. They are giving me an opportunity to get over my anger and issues and realize it wasn’t any of our faults. I need to meet next with our other brother Bruce, and we’ll get to it. For today, Larry and I are brothers again.
|This picture was taken on the day I was sent to live with my grandparents. I was five months old, and separated from my siblings. Look at my eyes. I knew.|