I knew little of the story; I didn’t even know this much when I was young.
And then I heard more.
The story told by the younger sister, about how much she adored her older brothers.
About how her oldest brother paid for her piano lessons when her parents
couldn’t afford to. About how he helped her and her fiancé buy a car.
About how much he did for their parents, helping with projects and the
upkeep of their house.
Then about how he married a Canadian girl when he was 31, and hardly ever came home again.
I had heard that story, but it was a different version. It was the story of the Canadian girl
who was not welcome in her fiancé’s home, because she was Canadian, because she came
from a “broken home,” because she wasn’t good enough.
He and the Canadian girl moved to Niagara Falls, had a daughter, then to Oswego and had another.
He didn’t see his family much after that, and as the girls grew up, they were told
that his family didn’t want to see them. They heard that his sister and her husband thought
“they are better than us; they don’t want anything to do with us.” And because the story came from the
girls’ mother, of course they believed it.
They didn’t hear the story about the early lives of the two young boys; they never heard the story
about the piano lessons or the car or other acts of loyalty. These were stories about a man
they never knew, and not the man they recognized as their father. Not the man who yelled
more than spoke, who had no patience with any one in his home. The man who didn’t care who he hurt.
What happened to that man?
There’s always more to the story.
Like the story of a little Boy, born in 1928 to Armenian immigrants. His mom is young,
only 25, at home with him every day, until the day she is never home again.
It isn’t her fault; it isn’t his baby brother’s fault, even though she leaves when he arrives.
And then his father is alone, with no family nearby, ill-prepared to raise two babies on his own.
So he takes them to his wife’s sister in another State, to take care of; to raise.
And what then, becomes of his father? Who, every night, comes home to a silent house, instead of one brimming with his wife and sons? Does he make himself a meal, or go to a diner? Does he have friends, perhaps friends’ wives who deliver meals, invite him over, try to fix him up with single women? Does he drink, maybe alone or in a neighborhood bar? Does he believe in God? And if so, does his young wife’s death disrupt that belief?
Five years pass and his dad remarries. He is 43 and his new wife is 25, and it is time to reclaim his boys,
now eight and five, to take them back home. A home they’ve never really known. Two years later, the Boy’s dad and new mom have a baby; he has a sister.
The sister adores her brothers, but her mother does not. And how can she, this young woman
inheriting little boys who are now removed from the only family they have ever known?
Do those boys get to meet her before she becomes their mother?
Did their dad visit them during those years?
Does that Boy remember anything of his mother, the one he lost, now replaced by one he barely knows?
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