My mother birthed six children through the course of two marriages; her first husband, father of the original four, married a woman who also had four children, so we are a family of full, half, step and out-of-step children. Fifteen years separate the oldest and youngest, and as the second youngest, I have never really known how the others perceive me – I am, after all, the product of a stable union – my mother’s second marriage.
I grew up in southwest Ontario with one full sister and two halves. The rest of the family was reared in the east, so while I knew some of the halves, I was definitely out-of-step with most of the steps. I am not the only sibling confused by all of this. My next older brother, Reg, was still a preschooler when torn away from our mother, which caused him great angst, and the youngest of the steps was revealed to actually be a half sibling to my halves (they shared a father) when we were in our teens, throwing further hysteria into the mix.
Suffice to say, we are not a close bunch – too much dysfunction creates knee-jerk self-preservation which is not conducive to closeness. Some got married, some got sick, some moved away. While I focused on building my own (new and improved) family, my brother Reg moved away, never to be heard of again (at least by me) for twenty-five years.
Then one day, as if no time had passed between us, he called, and gave me his cell phone number. I started to text. Months went by, and then opportunity presented itself – we were going to meet up!
“You’re still tall”, was the first thing I could think to say after hugging him in greeting.
“Yep!” He always was a man of few words. He had a wife in tow. A wife of twenty-five years. I embraced her as a new-found sister; introduced my own husband. We talked for hours, shared a meal, and they were back on their way.
Photos taken were shared via text afterwards, and I messaged my delight at having seen them.
We loved seeing you too, my new sister-in-law typed, Reg was very happy, but a little sad too…
Me too… I responded. Me too.