My father’s brother died this week – Uncle Sid. Uncle Sid’s wife, Aunt Joan, died earlier this year.
I didn’t know him. He visited once, when I was young, with his children – Chris and Andy – even younger. He and Joan were divorced then; eventually they remarried, which I thought was cool. What I remember about that visit was that he looked exactly like my father, except for his gray hair, which seemed wrong; my father was older. But otherwise, they looked – and sounded – identical.
As far as I know, that is one of the few times my father saw his brother. I don’t think he traveled to Ohio, where Sid lived; they may have met up at a family wedding in Massena.
I never saw him again, and never met Aunt Joan at all. She sent us a Christmas card every year, with love from A. Joan and U. Sid. And she always thanked me for the picture I sent in our card – said she loved watching Ian grow up in those photos.
It’s bizarre and impossible to me that my parents had siblings and family who were not in our lives. We grew up knowing my mother’s family well; we barely knew my father’s family, even though they lived only a few hours from us, with kids – our cousins – very close in age to Kathy and me.
Ian knows Zac and Drazen as well as anyone in his life – he has always been close to them, despite the distance. Zac was the one he texted for advice when he broke up with his girlfriend (advice which warrants its own 300 words…). And even if our times with Mike’s siblings are more sporadic, they are equally easy and familiar.
I understand family relationships being strained. That happens. Estrangement I don’t get.
I was born in Oswego, NY,
"I had always wanted to be a writer, but was impeded by the belief that to be a writer one had to be extraordinary, and I knew I wasn't. By the time I was ready to give up my academic career I had realized that while books are extraordinary, writers themselves are no more or less special than anyone else." The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield