It’s been almost two years since I’ve visited with my brother, G., in person, email being our primary mode of sporadic communication. We both have our lives, and there was a period that I needed time away from his gregarious personality that was, at times, overwhelming for me. It had been a couple of months since we last communicated, until recently when we exchanged a few emails prompted by birthday wishes.
I visit my uncle at least once or twice a week. We all live within driving distance of each other. We have another brother, J. Both brothers are twenty years older than I am. The other brother and my brother were close and then life happened and they separated, and with their separation, my separation from the other brother. It’s the way it was. No hard feelings, just that one was the link to the other. The last time we were all in the same place together was at my abuelita’s (grandmother’s) funeral.
The last few times I’ve visited my uncle, who is in his eighties, he expressed a strong desire to get us all together. We talked it out and we didn’t think it would be possible. So much time had passed—at least two decades. There was still a wide gap between the brothers—difficult matters from the past. I always found it peculiar that each of us would speak to my uncle individually; my communications would extend to G., but not to J. We would all ask my uncle how the other was doing and that was the extent of our combined relations, our uncle as the remote hub.
I’m not religious, but I speak to God; sometimes I ask him for his guidance. God, to me, transcends any religion and I know that he listens and he understands me. I knew in my heart that if my uncle wanted to try to get us all together, I would have to help him. Even though time separates my brother G. and I, we have always been close and pick up right where we left off when we visit with each other. As long as he hasn’t had too many beers, were fine. If he’s drunk, I don’t want anything to do with him. He seems to have gotten that under control.
Since I hadn’t seen G. and I knew he hadn’t been visiting our uncle, I asked God for guidance—guidance on whether I should reach out, should I try to help my uncle, especially since he framed his wish as an event he wanted to see happen before he died. I felt a burden because I like my simple life, at a distance from my family. Selfish? Yes. I’ve had too much control exerted upon me from my childhood, both from mother, and from G. when he had to deal with my adolescent years. I realized that I was still under the childhood spell of all the feelings that I needed to get out from under.
I’ve wavered throughout the years, my mind being my worst enemy—wavered at having an overprotective brother, at times still feeling that overbearing tendency he demonstrated in spurts in my adulthood, because he would always view me as his little kid sister. When I gained my freedom, I realized that I had to be strong within myself, maintain my independence. I would not be controlled any longer the way my mother controlled me and I would not be an enabler.
This is probably where my rebellious nature came from: Death, freedom, and literally finding my voice. It started in junior high school sometime after my mother’s death. I was quiet and shy, but I had moments of something else, something I can’t put my finger on exactly: A firecracker. I mellowed with time, bad decisions, and lots of introspection. For a quiet observer, introspection came naturally and has not left my side. The only time my rebel is roused these days is when I feel those shackles of control being flung upon me. It can be work, my significant other, anyone. I’m aware of it, and at times I retreat, but it’s there. I don’t like being bullied and I speak up when the need arises. I am proud of myself because I’m still me, I don’t forget who I am, where I come from, and I speak up when necessary.
On my recent email exchange with G., he said he’d like to see me and I replied that yes, why don’t we meet at uncle M’s. I hadn’t told my uncle. I thought we would surprise him and just show up. I still continued to ask God for guidance before these emails, guidance on if I should make some effort. Last time I visited my uncle, I said to him, should I email G. and see if he wants to visit? He said, no, let him do it on his own.
I think that a part of my uncle meant those words, but my uncle is stubborn like the rest of us. He’s stubborn, has the rebel in him, and also has a big heart. He doesn’t show his feelings much, but when he talked about the four of us getting together, he got choked up, his eyes misted over. I listened to his actions and stored it away.
It was nice to visit with my brother G., and uncle together, and it was a refreshing surprise to hear my brother say that he enjoyed spending more quiet time at home, rather than going out and being in the middle of all the noise. It sounded as though he had grown up. How odd for a younger sister to say that, but it’s true. In listening to him talk, he seemed calmer, more open, more balanced. I told him he was becoming more of an introvert in his older age. He agreed.
I feel that in the recent string of emails with my brother, God, was guiding me. After we were done visiting, my brother got up to go and he said we should do this more often. I told him that actually uncle M. expressed that he would like for us to get together with J., all of us together. I said it’s Uncle’s wish before he dies. He turned his neck around as if he were rolling his eyes, but then said, yeah, sure, let’s do it. Uncle M. seemed pleased and had a big smile on his face.
My uncle is not on his deathbed. He has a lot of spunk in him yet. Even though my uncle’s the oldest, any of us could exit before the other.
I had known that my uncle expressed his desire to my other brother, J., a month ago. When he said to my uncle that he thought he could stand our brother for a few hours, I knew there was hope. There were many deaths in our family where there was not peace among family members before their departure. I know my abuelita (grandmother) would have liked to have seen the brothers reconcile before her death.
I could have easily just walked away from this, and I was ready to, but I spoke to God for days, during different times, telling him how I felt and asking for a sign. If not for the small nudges from up above, from a power higher than myself, I may not have done anything. This is the last of us. I don’t expect anything to come of it afterward, only a small slice of peace for my uncle in the present, so that he can have his one last wish—before its too late.
Now I must see it through.