Thursday, June 15, 2006

I have not seen my oldest brother in 30 years. Sometime in the spring of 1976 he decided to cut off all contact with the family.

My mother, who should know what happened, claims that this is one of the time periods for which she has no memories. My father, who knew what happened, is dead, and if still alive would never have told the truth.

I have the vague memories of a 12-year-old. My father cursing at my brother on the phone. Oldest brother had decided to change his major from accounting to history and theater. My father had picked out careers for each of his children, and oldest brother was going to be an accountant and work for my uncle Fred. Or else. The shouting and threats worked too well.

My oldest brother was also gay. When he had come home for Christmas I did what many little boys did- snooped for presents and found Tom of Finland-like porn. Naturally, I assumed that all guys looked at pictures of other guys. It wasn't until later that I found out otherwise.

I suspect oldest brother told my father and in 1976 that was not the thing to do. He simply disappeared then. Once, while cleaning out our pickup truck, I found a Father's Day card he had sent my father, crumpled up and hidden behind the seat. As far as I know that was the last contact. My parents never got in the car and drove down to Lansing to find him. He was never spoken of. My mother said he was dead in my father's obituary. She was surprised when I told her he wasn't. "Well, he's dead to me."

Back in 1991, just as computer databases were becoming available, I found his address and wrote him a letter and had my friend Brian mail it, because I was too nervous. I told oldest brother some basic family news and said, "We have more in common than you might think." I never heard back from him.

He probably remembers me as the brat. I was ten-and-a-half years younger than him. I have a few vague memories of him. He didn't like me, was always yelling at me. In particular I remember the night Grandpa T. died and I walked into our living room, with its turquoise carpet, corner curio cabinet, and that little electric organ, and there was oldest brother on the couch crying with a pillow over his head. He looked up and shouted at me to go away. It's strange that all the memories of him are him being angry at me. But then he was the oldest and well, actually, a spoiled brat.

I wonder if he ever wonders about me the way I wonder about him. I just checked and he's still apparently living in Michigan. I guess I don't feel compelled to try again, I'm not sure what I would say to him after 30 years.

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