Two of my big brothers have birthdays in this month. They were born a year and a day apart. My mother passed away on one of their birthdays in 2001 & the boys didn't celebrate for a long time - maybe 4 years. Well, they are celebrating again, but we siblings are scattered, 3 boys in Arizona & the rest of us here in Alaska. We are a family who congregates for every reason: birthdays, anniversaries, tired feet!
One year - the year before she did pass - my mother went into distress. She was put on life support. My sister and I were here with only one of my brothers that year. We had to call the other boys home because we thought we were going to be saying goodbye to Mom. Travel was a nightmare and one of the boys was already away from his home on a business trip. I had been about to be sent to Hong Kong with my job for a couple of weeks... It was just a nightmare. My sister, my brother, a couple of sisters-in-law and about 10 grandkids (babies, toddlers and teens) took over one of the waiting rooms at Providence. Friends came to gather and help rock babies, soothe the toddlers and feed the teens. They shuttled back and forth to our houses, bringing clothes and wash cloths. One of my mother's friends came and held prayer service in the middle of the waiting area. My sister, brother and I camped in Mom's ICU room. The boys did make it in. Mom did make it through. That was the year we all went to Sears and took this horrible photo. Well, actually, never mind. I refuse to show that picture. We have always joked that we looked like the Groovy Ghoulies in that one. I have on a turtelneck sweater that looks like a neck brace and Darrell looks blasted (which, at that time in his life, he probably was!), and we are all grimacing & slightly stooped because we are holding down one of the grandkids who refused NOT to be with us while we had our pic taken.
I say all this just to remind you and myself what my family is. We are close. I love them, I hate them. they lift me, annoy me, worry me and love me to death. They are my air, my life and my whole heart.
I have the sister who taught me to cook. She taught me to do my hair just right. She tells me when I'm looking good and when I just don't need to wear that blouse until I lose some weight. She has let me cry over a broken heart without judging me. She has laughed til tears rolled down her face when I recently forgot what I was saying and went into a whole other unrelated rant about something. When my father died and I was the only one of us to go with the boys to represent, she reminded me how I was to carry myself in all that grief. "The boys need you, so be strong. You are going to have to be the Conway lady at the funeral." I managed and go through until I got home and she let me fall apart for a while.
|That's me and MY sister!|
I have one brother who taught me to be a little conceited. He always told me I was pretty. He picked out my clothes when I was a size 4, no ass, no tits and legs to my chin. ("Red is your color and heels are your friend. Work with it.") He also taught me how to look nice when I hit 160 and felt like a bloated mule. ("Jewelry, perfume and smiles draws the attention away from the pounds.")
He is the brother who taught me how to walk into a place and looked like I belong there. It could be where millionaires hung out and I'd have five dollars in my pocket, but he'd say, "Head up, eyes forward and stride. Hell, just look like you're supposed to be there." Do you know that actually works?
He taught me how to dance without sweating ("Just pose and snap your fingers to the beat for a fast dance. For a slow dance hold on and follow his feet.")
This is the one who has melted some hearts in his day & still can:
All my brothers will have my back. Once a guy got annoyed because I ignored his advances. Had the nerve to call me out of my name. My one brother - Mr. Suit Tie and Boardroom? That man never raised his voice when he reminded the nasty smart mouth to be careful. "Don't let this suit fool you, bro. I'll wipe your nose with your own ass if you disrespect my sister again. Now say you're sorry." I know he'd just been waiting to use that line at some point in life. (This was a client of his. A client who made him a lot of money. I might be what he calls a "little shit" sometimes, but I'm worth a lot to my brother.) He's the one who taught me that all "education" comes from books but "smart" comes from doing. He's the reason I walked into a job with a customs broker and made it to management within two years. He's the reason I had the courage to move away from home to England. He's the reason I had the guts to ride a bus through freaking Oakland one summer. If you think that's not gutsy, remember that Huey Newton was still alive then and I was going through my Black Power rebellion. My little no-thug-ass, prim and proper, suburb-radical self who couldn't spell "fight the power" without wetting myself. You see where all that mess got Huey, right? He taught me to fight from a position of dignity instead of from one of anger and rebellion and reciprocal ignorance. To prove the educated and ignorant racists and bigots with positive action, love and by embracing everyone. He taught me to look past color and background - my own and others.
I have the little brother who made me feel wise. He'd ask my advice and really listen. He'll call me up just to say, "I love you, sis." He senses my distress and call just because. We are kind of psychically connected. He is my little big brother. There is too much love in my heart for him to fit into words on a screen. He knows. That's enough.
We are the folks who for Mother's Day (when we were all in the same place for a couple of years), rented a HUGE Hummer limo for all us gals. (Side note: our driver was a gorgeous blonde guy named Jimmy Hendrix. No shit.) The boys gave us American Express gifts cards and sent us to a swanky Scottsdale mall to see which of us could use our $100 to put together the most creative Mom's Day gift. The winner (not me, dangit) got all the Mom's Day gifts and another $100 card. (Maybe the reason I lost was because this was the year of my drinking something called Saki Bombers while sitting in 100-degree heat and getting so wasted that one of my brothers had to come and take me home early! Yeah. I got that drunk. I hear he just slung me over his shoulder and carried my vomit-drenched ass right out of the ladies room of one of the nicest restaurants in Scottsdale with my red Victoria Secret drawers saying "hello! to all the world. His wife was scared to go home because he blamed her for letting me get so messed up. Like it was her fault I was an idiot. I was too drunk to care though. Hell, I was drunk for 3 days. I'd sober up and make the mistake of drinking water or trying to move more than 3 feet and, BOOM, I was drunk all over. (I'm not a drinker and, after that, probably never will be!) That was the year this - one of our fave pics - was taken, and, yes, I was sober for the photo:
For Christmas/New Years of '06, the fam and a bunch of our friends caravan-ned (that is now a word) from Phoenix to San Diego. There were about 9 SUVs and 2 roomy cars trailing each other down the highway. We had to call ahead when we wanted to stop and eat because we had to make sure a place could accommodate around 30 adults and 15 kids or so. One place had a kind of racist atmosphere which irritated one of our friends. He couldn't resist being an asshole and remarking to the whole place when we were being seated that "Yeah, we're a bunch of transparent, but it's okay cause we're niggers with money." Number One: my family is so bi-racial/national/cultural, we need our own damn flag. Number Two: my brother was footing that trip, so who did his broke ass think he was? Diddy? My brother was pissed and shut him down quick. No matter, we ended up having a great day spent at the San Diego Wildlife Park (treat for the kids) and a really fun night out in a club (treat for the big kids - us). I remember we got comped into a fancy club because the door people thought all the guys were pro ball players. Talk about V.I.P. treatment... Now I know how celebrities get hooked. I am going to have to find the pic we took of all of us standing in front of the wildlife park.
We spent one day out near Coronado Beach. I remember we toured the famous hotel where all the presidents and celebs stay. I remember seeing the beautiful and impossibly tall Christmas tree they had displayed. I remember spending time at the boardwalk/beach area with a bunch of the kids (who talked my stupid self into riding this rickety old WOODEN rollercoaster. I rode it twice!) I remember going souvenir-hunting with a couple of my brothers. I got this pic of them:
One year - a long time ago - we had almost ALL the grandkids home for my mother to enjoy. That was probably one of her best Christmases ever...
|This is only about half the grandkids, no kidding. There are now around 30 of Roots The Next Generation! lol|
So, yes - we celebrate. We congregate and commune and invade each other's houses. It's the same way with our close friends. If you are one of us, you really are one of us. You belong. I have at different times in my life had 3 friends living with me for months.. I have lived with a couple of my friends for months. When any of us hits a rough patch in life, we gather; we circle and protect. And, always, always, we celebrate. And, like I said, we are a diverse group of folk. We can celebrate in about 4 different languages, and you know the food is hella-good. I have a Polish "family" member that can could soul food that Wilson Pickett can't touch. Don't get me started on the Dominican dumplings that taste so good they will make you want to tap dance...
Celebrate? You bet. That's always going to happen. Come around us for ten minutes and have a birthday and you will find out!
This mileage separation doesn't bother us siblings. I won't get to hug the boys or give them a big old kiss, but I will be seeing them via Skype. Skype is good because they can see me but not touch me. They might want to do a little painful touching when they see what I am going to do. This year, I am doing "Dork Alerts." This is where I went thru family albums & found the dorkiest pics I could. I'm going to be texting to the boys about 5 days before their big day. This will be to remind them that, even though they are getting older, at least they don't look like Linc from the "Mod Squad" anymore! (Everyone can relate to that, right? I mean, every mother on every planet has kept some of those Dork ass photos that they drag out on the most awkward occasions.)
P.S.: this post is special to me. I sure hope it made sense through the Sarc.