Friday, July 23, 2010

Dropping By..... from Maryland

My brother is coming to town.

He's driving from Maryland to Los Angeles for our cousin's son's wedding this weekend.  We'd talked about this trip, about a convention in Las Vegas which would make the whole thing feel kinda sorta maybe work-related, about how boring it is to drive across Texas, about how long it would take to drive from Tucson to LA and whether he should come here on the way out or the way back, but earlier this week, sitting with G'ma's feet on my lap on her couch in the pod castle, we called him, wondering if he was coming after all. I mean, really, people. The event is Saturday.  And it's a long drive.

He didn't pick up the phone this morning, and G'ma and I agreed that it was typical Brother Behavior.  I remembered the afternoon I'd come home early from school.  The house was empty.  My hello's went unanswered.  Little Sister came home when it was dark, and G'ma arrived after work, and only when dinner was on the table did Brother appear, having been in his bedroom all afternoon.

"Why didn't you tell me you were here?  I was calling for company.  I was lonely"  

His answer?  "I had nothing to say."

He's always marched to the beat of his own drummer.  He's into balance in his life.  Work, kids, wife, synagogue, sex, family, parents, travel - he tries to make it all work.  He's been many things - a bicyclist, a magician, a computer back-office geek, a grad student, an accountant, a corporate drone, a partner in a business venture, an owner of commercial real estate, a father, a husband and a very very good friend.  He's one of those men who is comfortable with the whole family - grandparents, aunts and uncles, little kids and grown-ups alike.  Everybody is always glad to see him. 

When we celebrated the Little Cuter's graduation, he and his girls drove to Indiana for the event.  The grown-ups all went to the Art Museum while the kids went to the lake to jet ski and party boat and generally carouse.  Brother went with them.  He and SIR were maniacs on the jet skis, racing and competing and generally being male.  At dinner that night he walked around the table, collecting pieces of advice from each guest, recording them on his camera.  Ten days later we all received CD's containing the advice, with credits and musical accompaniment.  It was the best gift ever.

He used to drive up to visit G'ma every month or so when she was living back east.  Moving her to Arizona had only one drawback - Brother doesn't fly.  Typically, he didn't make a scene, didn't create any turmoil, didn't accuse anyone of planning a purposeful estrangement.  He's never said that he misses her, but I have to think that it was more than the wedding invitation that provided the impetus for him to plunk down behind the wheel of his truck and cross the country.  Alone. 

And I'm reminded, again, that caring for aging parents was a lot different 100 years ago.  In a less mobile society, where divorce was rare and people died close to the homes in which they were born, two years wouldn't have passed between his visits.  I'd have someone to share the cares and decisions and G'ma would have more people on her entertainment committee.  With grandchildren living on opposite coasts how can the wisdom be shared?  As G'ma ages before my eyes, my siblings, living 2000 miles away, are missing the grace with which she is moving through this stage of her life.  All the lessons I'm learning - acceptance, release, the value of a smile when the situation is sad but true - are mine and mine alone.  The love that G'ma showered on her grandchildren is now living here in the desert, while they are in Egypt and Rhode Island and South Carolina and Chicago and San Francisco and Washington, DC.

I'm feeling kind of selfish.

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