Familial Ties

Generations don’t end evenly and ages don’t define relationships. Sometimes I am my aunt’s sister and sometimes I am my mother’s mother. I hope that sometimes she feels me to be her sister, her friend. Sometimes my brother is my father. When my father is too sick to change the oil and pick me up. When he cannot drive himself home and his oxygen is running out. Sometimes my brother is my best friend when he is the only one who wants to talk to me about the mutual experience of losing our father. Sometimes I am the deadbeat dad who didn’t take care of my brother when he was growing up with an alcoholic father and an angry mother. Sometimes I am the teenage mother who left her kid with his grandmother and ran off to face her future. Sometimes I am my brother’s child, when I am crying thinking of a memory of our father that he does not remember, when I am thinking of a memory that hasn’t happened yet—one that our father will not share with us; a bike ride he won’t take with us. Sometimes in the ocean’s waves I cry deeply thinking of my father and I playing together in the water as though siblings; thinking of holding my brother like a son; feeling desperate responsibility to protect him from the breathtaking force of the undertow.

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