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Posts Tagged ‘brothers and sisters’

It was a beautiful spring day in 2009. My daughter, her boyfriend, and I had driven out to the coast for the first time since we had moved to Oregon a year before. We had spent a few hours at the casino and we were on our way home talking about going back to the coast again. My cell phone rang and I saw it was my older sister, Sylvia.

“Are you home?”
“No. We’re on the way home from the coast and we were just talking about how you would like it there if you came to visit.”
“Are you driving or is Tina driving?”
“Tina is.”
“Okay. I just called to tell you…I’m sorry I have to tell you…Carlos just killed himself.”

Again. Another brother. I was speechless. She had to hang up because the police were there and she had to talk to them. She asked me to call my younger sister and let her know. I did. The rest of the day is a blur. My daughter took care of everything and before I knew it, we were on a our way to the airport for a 6 am flight to southern California. We muddled through the week that followed. My daughter and I came home to Oregon. The next few months were filled with grief and memorial services in both southern and northern California and then spreading his ashes.

It was difficult for me to go back to see my mother because my brother had been staying at my mother’s house before he died. When I was finally able to return to my mother’s house, everything was fine; quiet; normal. One day, I was in my sister’s bedroom reading. My mom was in her bedroom and my sister in the kitchen. My nephew was in the dining room on the computer. He is autistic and is nonverbal and spends all his time in front of the computer watching videos. There was no one else in the house. All of the sudden, the bedroom door swung open, there was what I can only call a “whoosh” and then all was still. A minute later, I heard a male voice just above a whisper. It said “What’s goin’ on?” I looked all around. No one was there but I had recognized the voice. It was my brother, Carlos. I sensed him in the room for another minute or so then he was gone.

I wasn’t scared. I knew he wasn’t there to hurt me.

I told my sister later that night. She said she had felt him there before and our mother had often felt him and heard him until one day when she spoke to him telling him to leave because he didn’t belong in this world. After that, my mom hasn’t felt his presence anymore. I felt it and heard him. No fear. No threat. Just a sense of peace. He was there with me for that short two or three minutes.

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It’s Christmas once again and the world is beginning to fill with magic just like I remember from my childhood. Secrets hide behind every corner –good secrets, not the bad ones; grownup secrets about the gifts that are hiding in packages and then the secrets of the children hiding something “naughty” they did that they think no one knows about—especially Santa.

One year, when I was about to turn five, my parents put a miniature tree downstairs in the basement which had been converted into bedrooms for my three brothers. We had not ever had any kind tree, other than the big one we had in the living room and it made us feel that the small tree was really special…two trees in one house! My mother helped us decorate the tree with tiny little ball ornaments. They didn’t put lights on it and it was kind of plain looking so my mom put some little packages she had wrapped up for us under the tree. I remember that the small presents, all wrapped in shiny paper, really made the tree look even more special to us kids.

One weekend, a little over a week before Christmas, my mother and father went shopping. When they had been gone a while, my brothers started talking about the presents. They said we should each open one present. We all had to open one because, according to my brothers who were all older than my sisters and I, if we had all participated, none of us would tattle on the others and we wouldn’t get spanked. They said once we had each opened a present, they would wrap them all up so that my parents would never find out that we had opened them. It would be our secret.

It took them a long time but they finally convinced us to do it. I was elected to be the first to open a package. I picked a shiny red one with a red and green plaid bow. Inside was a white box that now I recognize as one for jewelry but at that time I didn’t know what might be inside. I opened it and found a layer of white fluffy cotton. Once I picked up the cotton, I saw a gold shiny key. On the round end of the key were little pink flowers and clear rhinestones. I picked it up and realized it was a pin to wear on my clothes. Just as I began to smile, we heard the back door open and my parents came in. Before we could hide the evidence, my mother was down the stairs watching us try to hide the package.

She was so angry! She kept asking me why I had done it. I told her everyone was going to open one. In fact, my sister had her box in her hand, ready to open it. My brothers denied it and told her that they were trying to get me not to open one but I wouldn’t listen to them. Besides being angry, my mother was really hurt. I could see it in her eyes. She was disappointed in me and I knew she wanted to cry. The look in her face made me want to cry, or maybe it was knowing that I was going to be spanked! Then she and my father said Santa was not going to bring me any presents because I had been such a bad girl. That was worse than a spanking. I cried even more.

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