As I stood by my brother’s hospital bed yesterday I thought about what a strange relationship we have. He is the youngest of my four brothers. I am 59 and he will be 43 in a couple of weeks. I left our home and family to create my own shortly after he was born. In fact my oldest daughter will be 41 in December. John and I are really strangers to each other. Except for a short period in 1980 we haven’t lived in the same town or spent much time together. There aren’t a lot of pictures of the two of us together. We don’t share very many memories. And we don’t have much in common. I find myself thinking about him in the same way that I think of some of my nieces and nephews, or cousins. I love him, but I hardly know him.
So I stood by his bed yesterday and I wanted to be more comforting and understanding and supportive, but I didn’t really know what to say. What comfort and advice do you give to someone you barely know and haven’t seen in a year? I know Mother would be ashamed of us for letting a year pass without a visit. Perhaps we can both make an effort to get to know each other better. She would like that.