It’s time to Break It Down!
If you follow my work, you know that every now and then, I write about the intricacies of my personal life. Today’s blog is one of those posts. No links, no footnotes; one hundred percent first person accounting.
Forty-eight years ago, I lost my brother to a violent crime. He lived in the Capital of The Empire State. We were close, at least for siblings born twelve years apart. He was the eldest (there were only two of us), and broke camp soon after high school. He started a family and made a life in Albany. I visited a couple of times growing up. He came back home about the same number of times.
My mother died of cancer in 1962. He spent some time at home during the final stages of her illness. We bonded over our deep appreciation of comic books. At least that’s was the pretext. I think we knew, in our heart of hearts, this was the advent of the next phase of our individual, and collective lives, living without the physical presences and love of Gertrude Wiggins Miller. Our mom.
After that uniquely life altering experience, I moved about a bit. I was adopted by an aunt and an uncle, and spent a couple of years with them, living as a military brat, in Washington, DC for a semester, and in Ft. Belvoir, VA for a year and a half. I hung out with my dad in Brooklyn during the summers. I made it to Albany during one of the summer stints. Didn’t make it back again until Christmas Break of my Freshman Year in college. It was a great reunion after 7-8 years, albeit unavoidably short.
In retrospect, it turned out to be the last time we would see each other. Two and a half months later, I was pulled out of an afternoon class, to be greeted by devastating news. My big brother, mi amigo y compadre, had been murdered. It was an unfathomable sequence. While my rational mind understood the premise that people of all ages die, it simply never occurred to me that my brother, or I, would meet death’s angel before our father. Or my adopted parents, for that matter. While in later years, my dad would clearly establish himself as my unparalleled hero, in those days, the sun rose and set on my big brother. The abrupt and unforeseen end of our mutual admiration alliance, simultaneously ended my connection with the life my brother had made in Albany, including with his family…my family.
Over the past 10-15 years, I have often wondered what ever happened to my Albany family. As it turns out, though I had no bead on my brother’s family, his brood was not my only family in town. On Mother’s Day weekend, a cousin here in NC traveled to visit her sister and brother-in-law…in Albany. While there, she did some on-the-ground reconnaissance. She returned to NC with a nephew’s phone number. I subsequently called and spoke with him, and with a brother and a sister. Just like that, after decades, I was able to reconnect with a long lost (to me) part of my family.
Over the past week, we have begun the process of forging a proper and lasting familial bond. I look forward to escaping the confines of Covid, and spending genuine quality family time, catching up on what all of us have missed. Willie, Maurice, and Nicole, thank you for embracing me; I love you. “Mi Familia: This One’s Personal!”
I’m done; holla back!
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