I regret the dimness of my memories of my youngest brother, Chris, who died at age 42 sixteen years ago. Occasionally, our generation has been asked to tell stories about Chris to his son, who was five at his death. I always feel inadequate and guilty, because I don’t have many memories from which to draw.
I am thankful our brother, Jon, does recall stories of not only Chris but also our dad, who’s been gone 22 years.
I was the eldest sibling, who left the family roost as quickly as possible, in the midst of the hippie era of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. I didn’t purposely set out to not-remember, but I did embrace a particular feminist lens through which I interpreted my world. In retrospect, I suspect that focused lens caused me to screen out and delete a lot of memories from long-term memory. I know that lens motivated me in my twenties to disdain and disengage from some family relationships and courtesies like acknowledging birthdays.
I didn’t re-engage again until my mid-thirties, when I married Herb and birthed Cece. My healthy relationship with Herb erased many resistances I harbored to being connected to family merely because of bloodlines. When Cece came along, she was a positive reason to reestablish those connections with gusto. I wanted her to have what I had lost and found again. I came to realize that political beliefs were insufficient reason to diss the relationships that feed you for a lifetime.