RSS Feed

Memories of my half brother

Posted on Monday, April 19, 2010 in family

I’m going to visit my brother tomorrow so I thought I’d share a few memories.

Larry is something like 18 years older than I am. I’m not even sure of his birth year, and frequently forget the name of his mother. We never lived together; he was out on his own by the time I came into the world. I didn’t even know he was my brother for several years. Parents don’t think they need to explain such things to their children. I must have assumed that Larry was a cousin or something. In all the stories I knew—like Dick and Jane—siblings always lived together and were of the similar ages. I think it was a Sunday school teacher who informed me that that I actually had a brother and two sisters instead of just the one sister at home.

I recall having a hard time understanding what it meant to have this new brother and new sister—both already married. I latched on to the fact that they are my half-brother and half-sister. They were full brother and sister to each other, but only half to me and my other sister.

When Larry visited after I learned this amazing fact, I recall repeating it to his face. And I kissed him a lot—perhaps out of guilt over my prior ignorance. I know that I overdid it. Someone reprimanded me for my behavior. But that was better than what happened when I told my oldest sister’s son that his mother was my sister. He insisted that I was wrong and punched me in the face.

I do recall one event in which Larry really acted like a brother. During one visit he got me down on the floor in the living room and tickled me until I cried. And like a real sister, I have not yet forgiven him for that terrorism. I do forgive him for making fun of me for not understanding algebra since he helped me with that homework during a Christmas holiday several years later.

I remember running into Larry’s wife, Mary, at the Warren County Fair one year and she introduced me to someone as her sister-in-law. Sister-in-law? That blew my mind again. Only adults have in-laws. I was too young to have an in-law. It seemed to imply some level of equality with an adult and that just did not make sense to me.

Larry and Mary visited only a few times a year. For several visits, whenever Larry got out of the car our dog would get so excited he’d tinkle all over Larry’s legs. During another visit Larry had to retrieve our rooster from the front yard.

The best visits were at Christmas. Mary and Larry would first celebrate with Mary’s family and parents who lived on the same road as my grandparents. Larry and Mary would come to our house after I was in bed. They’d sleep in the bedroom near the front stairs. I was forbidden to wake them up Christmas morning, but they always brought their dog (our dog’s mother.) So my other sister and I would get around the unreasonable restriction by waking the dog up. Then we’d wait and wait and wait while the slow-moving couple dressed, read holiday cards, made the bed, repacked, moisturized or something and got their camera ready. Then they’d go downstairs and finally call us down to finally discover what Santa brought.

They made up for their sloth by giving really good presents. They gave a lot of games. I suspect that many of these had already been played, but that was OK. I don’t recall how long they’d stay, but I do remember them being around for New Year’s at least once. Larry was very good at jigsaw puzzles and we always put on together over the holidays. He finished one too early. He also once brought champagne over for New Year’s Eve and that was the first alcohol I ever saw. It seemed very sophisticated and exotic to me.

It was great fun to visit them. They always had good games and interesting houses. They lived in a city. A real city. So even locating their house was fun. And unlike my oldest sister, they didn’t have kids my age to fight with.

Larry and Mary adopted their children after I was old enough to enjoy having a nephew and niece. Their baby son was so pink and cute and adorable. And when their daughter came I was big enough to carry her, bounce her, and experience baby vomit.

I have another memory of Larry that confused me. His life choices were judged rather harshly by extended family members. Larry went to college and studied art. I learned from others that this was a frivolous and reckless decision. It seems to have made him an outsider. I’ll have to ask him if he ever heard any of this. Because they were wrong, of course.

I’ve probably only seen Larry a handful of times since I’ve been an adult. I look forward to hearing his distinctive laugh on this visit. And learning a little more of his family memories.

  1. Well, all my older sibs are whole and not half and that adds a bit of glamor, but otherwise I can relate to almost everything you’ve written. My only brother is 16 years older than I am and he and his family moved to Virginia (from Ohio) when I was 12 or 13. Since then I probably have seen them eight or nine times–that’s in 46 years! I’ve seen them at four funerals, one wedding, one reunion, one trip there with my parents, one trip with my son, and probably a couple times I don’t remember. His oldest son is seven years younger than I am. My earlier memories of him (before they moved away) was that he could be pretty foul-mouthed, liked to embarrass me, and talked about “boobs” a lot. I was in his wedding (I was five) as the flower girl. My mom never liked his wife (she was older than Larry (yes, same name), she was from W. Virginia (hillbilly), and they “had” to get married. Also, she bleached her hair. Whew! I always thought she was pretty nice and I still do.
    Distant brothers–geographically, chronologically.

Leave a Comment