Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Recalcitrant Brother

So, in a fit of insanity, I've volunteered to pick up the littlest nephew from my brother's home and drive him back here where he will be picked up by my parents and taken back to a place where there are meals and bedtimes and regular baths. This is, apparently, not a moment too soon, because my brother is moving this weekend and he's moving in with the sister (and brother-in-law) of the oldest nephew's mother. Straight girls, I want you to ponder that last paragraph. Imagine that you have a fling with some guy you met while you were working at McDonald's. Imagine that you get pregnant and decide to keep the child, but ditch the guy. Would you ever, ever in a million fo-fillion years dream that eight years later he might be weighing the decision whether or not to live on your sister's couch or in your grandma's garage? Could you ponder such insanity? Seriously, if that doesn't instinctively cause your knees to press together, I don't know what will. And, straight fellas, imagine now the horror of having to throw yourself on the mercy of the family of a woman you knocked up and broke up with years and years ago because you owe everyone in the world money and have lost your job. How, how, how did things come to this? I just don't know. Seriously, I hope it's drugs or booze, because the thought that anyone could reach this point stone-cold sober is too depressing to contemplate. So, now I don't want to go. I'm trying to negotiate a way to care about my family and be caring towards them without getting sucked into this shit, without having to take care of them. I'm trying hard to believe that the best thing I can do for everyone is to just get and keep my own self as lucky as possible, and not rescue people or despair because I can't. But, oh god, when I talked to my brother last night and I heard the fear and tired in his voice, I wanted to sell plasma and send the money to him. I wanted to invite him to come live with us until he got back on his feet. And I felt like shit because I didn't, and because I didn't really want to. I want this life--a good job I love and a roof over my head and dog and good friends who love me--and a little more--a house of my own with a fenced-in back yard with a magnolia tree that blooms near the bedroom window. And as much as I feel compelled to help my brothers, I just want some small measure of good, non-insanity for myself. I feel guilty about it, but what can you do? Anyway, today I was thinking about this book, Things Invisible to See by Nancy Willard, which is about love and baseball and World War II and Michigan--where the recalcitrant brother and I were born. It's out of print, I think, so I'm going to spoil the end for you. At the end of the book, the hero, Claire, has to play a game of baseball against all of the best dead baseball players there ever were, in order to win the soul of her lover, whose name escapes me, in a game arranged by the devil. The end makes me cry every time, because, even though these are the best baseball players ever, and even though the devil has cheated a hundred ways, these dead guys throw the game for her so that she can win her true love's life. It's an extraordinary book, with a problematic Christian ethos, because these folks are saved by the love of a woman and the goodness inherent in people. Everyone around my brother keeps trying to save him. I keep waiting for him to realize that he's worth saving. I can't decide which of those things is the right thing to do.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feared my sister was recalcitrant as well, until I looked it up. Now I realize she's just stupid. And lazy.

And, should you decide to go sell plasma, tell 'em I referred you. I get a bonus.


5/26/2005 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Cindy St. Onge said...

I live with my brother, whom I refer to as my retarded foster child.
It's really hard with family. Sometimes helping them isn't really helping them. You love 'em and want them to be happy, but in the end, they are responsible for their own happiness.

Just let your brother know you love him no matter what. If he fails and fails and fails again, if he loses money, jobs, whatever, if he knows that his family loves him, he'll pick up the pieces and go forward.

I'll send good thoughts your way, B.

5/26/2005 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Thank you, you guys. I mean it, but now I must diffuse the mushiness with humor.

So, I promise not to forget you when I'm elected state senator!

5/26/2005 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger the Professor said...

I am trying to imagine what the husband is like. Who would let into his house the man who knocked up but is not still with his sister-in-law? Is he crazy and/or intoxicated too, or does he just have incredible trust in his wife?

I figure that if that family is doing so much for him, and for your nephew, then you can be off the hook a little and be very proud of all that you have done and are still doing for him.

Just remember how much pleasure you get from little kids and that you'll only have him for a day or so.

5/26/2005 04:45:00 PM  
Anonymous buddhabelly said...

I had to get about a thousand miles away from my family. I love them dearly, but if I'm in the vicinity for longer than a week I get sucked right into a vortex that bleeds off my will to live. I'm too damn codependent to maintain boundaries for long with the motley crew that is my family. Kudos to you for keeping your sense of humor about it all. I find it comforting to know that those weird entanglements such as the one that lead up to the couch or the granny's house are not exclusive to my family.

Kudos to you for keeping your sense of humor about it all. If not, well.. you sure gave me a good laugh thanks.

5/26/2005 08:48:00 PM  

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