Friday, October 2, 2015

My Mother, My Brother, Me

Fifty-five years is a long time not to have lived.

I've been pondering for days: what to write, about a mother and brother who barely had a chance? 

About growing up with half your family missing?

About what it might have been like to have had a mother with whom to share all of life's events, the big ones and the small ones?

I think that what I most regret this year is that: I don't know who they were.

My brother Dud never got to become who he was.  Today, had he lived, he would be almost 56.  What would he have loved as a boy?  Where would he have gone to school?  Would he have married and had a family?  What would have been his profession, his passions?  Would we be close friends, as my brother David and I are?

And my mother? I have a few things -- some pictures, one letter, and a fragment of another, some jewelry.  I have a few clear memories, and so I know that we, her children, were dear to her, and that she was kind and gracious and friendly.

What I have realized that I don't know at all is this: What did she care about, out there in the world?   What were her passions?  What might she have discovered and pursued, had she gone back to college when her children were grown?   Would she have become a determined advocate and fund-raiser for any causes?  A writer?  A world traveler?

And what about us, her children and grandchildren?  What would have been her priorities for us, in high school and college?  Have would she had responded to our mis-steps and failures?  Would we talk on the phone every day?  Would she have shown up and made pots of soup and changed sheets and vacuumed the house during those miserable pregnancies of mine?  Would she have been here for births and a death, for cancer and a broken ankle?  Would she have come to recitals and plays and games and graduations?

Would we have grown up in Florida?  That, I think, was the plan.  My parents had built a house for us in Vero Beach the Spring Before, and then we went back to Ohio.  When we returned to Florida the next year, would it have been for good? 

Who might I be, had I grown up in Florida instead of Ohio, at home instead of at boarding school,  with a mother instead of not?

But most of all, I just want to know:  What would she have to say? About anything at all?

Image: Vero Beach FL, May 1960 ~ a few months before they were killed in an automobile collision.

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