“There are no accidents in this universe. Everything operates according to perfect law. No thing can happen to us. Everything happens through us.”
-Mary Manin Morrissey
You can imagine how close my brother and I became experiencing the circumstances of our lives together only three years apart in age. I always felt it was my responsibility to protect my brother. He was just young enough that I was the caretaker but old enough for us to become friends. And we became the very closest of friends. We have the same sense of humor (although his is much quicker and a lot more off-beat) and our thoughts even moved along the same line at the same time. We thought so much alike we finished each other’s sentences. I think at one time we were convinced we must have lived other lives together. My brother was not a ‘rough and tumble’ boy. I was the ‘rough and tumble’ one; the protector. Whenever anyone picked on him or teased him I was there to stand up for him.
After our son was born Richard and I moved out on our own. Bruce was left to live with mother, her new husband and our little sister Amy. He was sixteen. For the next two years he spent the majority of his school time at my apartment. He would arrive first thing in the morning, spend the day and go home at the time he would normally go home from school. I have no idea why I thought this was o.k. or how all of this got past the school or my mother but it did. He hated being at school. He quit before graduating. In retrospect I think he may have been bullied and teased at school.
He was barely twenty-three in the early ‘70’s when he dropped the ‘bomb’. . . he was gay. No one was surprised but me. I think I had spent so many years defending him it was hard for me to realize ‘they’ had been right all along. Although this was a time in history of great social change we certainly were not at a place in time where this was a commonplace announcement. We still aren’t there forty years later. It was an incredibly courageous thing to do.
Now the real job of defending my brother had begun. And I was going to start where I thought the source was! Our father! I believed if he had been there for him this would never have happened. I thought my father’s rejection had caused my brother to have to live a very difficult life. And I was angry! I decided it was time for the two of us to confront him.
The last time I had seen or heard from my father was my twelfth birthday (1962). He had taken me out for a night of dinner and dancing at the old Statler Hilton Hotel in downtown Boston. I never felt so special. When we got up to dance the floor cleared and we were the only ones dancing. The magic was back. The entire dining room applauded when the music stopped. That night was when all of our communication stopped as well. I guess it was his way of saying goodbye.
He had re-married. We had his address in Connecticut. I was determined that we would see him, tell him the news and he would do the fatherly thing and make everything o.k.
We drove for what seemed like forever before we reached the base of his driveway. It was long, winding and edged by what felt like jungle all the way to the clearing at the top. My recurring dream flooded back to me. The pounding of my heart sounded like jungle roars in my head. Time stopped when I saw him at the top of the drive washing his car. He looked up. He put down his cloth. He walked into the house through the garage and pulled down the door. All in slow motion.
That was the last glimpse I had of my father until I was in my fifties.. His new wife rebuffed us at the door. She said, “Stop badgering him. This is too hard for him.”
We sat in the car hoping he would change his mind until the police car appeared behind us to escort us off his property. There was only one thing said on the long drive home. “Well, I guess it’s just you and me kid.”
“You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.”
The Lesson: Those you love are everything. The love they show you is everything. The love you show them is everything. When you care about someone the most important thing you can be for them is their support and their advocate. Everyone needs a "rock", someone they know they can count on no matter what.