My brothers, John and Deane were nine and thirteen when I was born. They welcomed me into their lives, when they could have viewed my arrival as a competitor for parental attention. They did just what this photograph shows, they held me close and through the years have held me up.
I wrote in Above and Beyond Wellfleet that our family was complicated, but close. Sometimes, I think because we had complicated family relationships, we concentrated on what was important--respecting, supporting and learning to understand one another.
Because of our age differences, we did not fight over toys--well, I didn't--I think it was a different story between the boys when they were younger. Instead, they taught me how to throw a football (at age 5) and how to drive a car (at 16).
As adults, we've held vigils together for our mother and father. Being together with them as they faded from our lives. We've consoled each other when our family losses have been almost too much to bear.
Now, we watch each other as we age, feeling a new and close camaraderie.
Last week, I spoke about my memoir at a luncheon arranged by my brother, Deane, along with his wife, Gudrun. I was so honored that he had such faith in me. Each person in the group seemed to have suffered some kind of loss, and the experience touched me deeply. I will remember the words spoken to me forever.
The most important memory will be looking out at the audience and seeing my big brothers and their wives (Gudrun and Claire). Keeping families together, loving each other is not easy, under the best of circumstances. I couldn't help feeling that our parents were witnessing this moment, and patting each other on the back saying "job well done." I tend to do that--imagine my parents talking to each other in heaven, and watching over us.
After the luncheon, we shared an evening together. We toasted each other, we sang the old songs--ones my brothers taught me. That is also part of our heritage, even with the span of years separating us. We all like to sing--I remember the words, my brothers have good voices.
I usually choose a category for each blog post--it's a toss up on this one--"family" or "gratitude". I will choose "family", knowing that I am filled with gratitude.