August 11, 2019.
My brother, Nate took on the role of being my protector before and after my parents divorced. In fact, he carried this role on when I needed him through more harrowing times when I was much older, too.
At the time of our parents split, we were the only one’s left at home since my other siblings were off to college. I was eleven and Nate was 17. Don’t get me wrong; They would come back between school breaks, jobs or check in from time to time.
My oldest sister, Irene was married by then. She wanted to get the hell out so badly that she married her high school sweetheart, Barry, when she was nineteen years old, two years prior to my parents divorce. (I was her flower girl when I was nine.) But, she was in love with him too, I am sure.
Nate and I were left with the brunt of my mother’s abuse, but my siblings all lay claim that they all had their heavy doses of her, too.
My brother had a steady relationship at the time and invited me along as much as he could, when he probably didn’t have to. I was reminded of this when this particular girlfriend, Kelly, who heard of my brother’s death, reached out to me via Facebook. She was supposed to have a reunion with my brother in February, but that never occurred. She asked if she could send me some pictures that she had of our family. I felt grateful because friends and family were putting tons of memories and pictures of him on their social media. Since I never had one before, I rose to the occasion and made one to honor my brother. Kelly sent me 60 pictures. This was like opening up a time capsule. All of my old feelings and memories came rushing back. I began to remember what I thought I had put to rest years ago when I first began to put the pieces together of my childhood together through writing nearly 20 years ago.
Kelly and I never actually spoke on the phone, but we sent each other private messages instead on Messenger. She reminded me that they were together for five years. That’s a long time for someone who is gay, but he told me awhile back that there was confusion in regards to his sexuality. I still don’t think he was really that way, but maybe that’s just me. I know they loved each other. I loved her, too. She was like a big sister that I didn’t want to fight with.
My brother’s girlfriend was also a hairdresser. She used to give me piggyback perms that turned my poker straight hair into soft curls in the comfort of our house. Kelly colored, cut and curled my mom’s hair too in the small kitchen nook where she sat oftentimes drunk on the bright yellow metal chair. My mum could spend hours talking on the phone to one of her A.A. friends, while smoking cigarettes with the longest damn ash you have ever seen. This area of the kitchen was, at one time, Grand Central for incoming and outgoing calls for my siblings when they lived at home.
Poor Kelly witnessed my mother hallucinating one time. To this day, I still do not know what that was all about. I know my mum mixed pills with alcohol, so that could have been the culprit. One time she insisted leprechauns or something ridiculous were milling about. We usually laughed about it and sometimes engaged my mom, “So where are the leprechauns…do they have a name?” Kelly had a high tolerance for mothers who created mayhem. I think she had one herself.
My mom fought with her siblings about their parents care, and especially over financial matters. My aunt, uncle and mom finally ironed out their differences, deciding to keep their parents out of the nursing home by each taking their turn as caregiver’s over my grandparents for 4 months in rotation. But, other financial matters, they could not resolve, got so bad between them, that a Conservator was brought in by the courts to make decisions that my uncle, aunt, and mom clearly could not make.
Kazaborski ended up lining his pockets very well. So well in fact, my grandparents home, antiques, jewelry and other valuables were sold at DuMouchelle’s auction house in Detroit to pay for his bill. Kelly went there, and bought one of my grandmother’s rings. It was a modest one. I’m not sure why she did this, but I’m glad someone who cared about our family got something.
My grandmother had some amazing jewelry. When I was living with her and my mom, I would sit with her in her powder room, eat Sander’s dark chocolate honey comb chips, one after another, whilst she told me old stories about ‘the hotels’ she owned. Her wrists and hands hung down like tired, old branches, from the weight of her bracelets and diamond rings.
There was a fabled ‘pink diamond bracelet’ that my aunt and uncle claimed my grandmother owned. (I say fabled, because I really don’t think my grandmother owned this piece.) They blamed my mother for taking it, however. Things got real crazy when our beloved house keeper, Della insisted this bracelet did exist. She pointed the finger at my mum, too. I think she even testified in court! Since she was the housekeeper of my dad’s sister, my mom’s number one nemesis, word spread like the wind, and the feud between my dad’s only sister and my mom suddenly got even bigger.
From time to time, I still wonder what in the hell happened to the velvet blanket my grandmother used to put over her lap to keep her warm. Did it get sold at that auction? The only one who would know that answer is Nate. And, of course the answer remains with him. In one of his linen closets, I noticed he had the cream wool Pendleton blankets with the blue, green yellow, red strip. I’m not sure how he managed to save those, but he did sell our family house. That’s another weird story for another time.
When my brother’s will was discovered, we noticed that he deliberately divided his estate with specific instructions. I think his intention was to eliminate fighting between us siblings. I think that what happened to our grandparents had an effect on creating this will. One sibling was completely cut out for reason’s that will remain with him. My oldest brother who has struggled with mental health and alcohol dependency issues will benefit, once the estate is settled, because the will stipulates for us siblings to he make sure his “life is comfortable.”
My other brother was given the position as the executor. That is a power position. I try not to engage with him if I notice controlling behavior. My inner child has a tendency to shout out, “Stop telling me what the fuck to do.” So, to bypass any of that, we text only.
Our relationship with the brother who holds this esteemed position of executor, was never particularly close to me, but this title has caused a sudden poof to his head. There are instructions that I must follow, for instance, if I want to fly out to my brother’s place in Berlin, but I guess I did not follow the letter properly when I tried to coordinate a trip. So, I couldn’t get a ticket. He was being too much of a dick to deal with. I’ve got way too much on my plate as it is.
Nate and Kelly’s dad.
My family pictures are in a storage unit in MI. I have been homeless for a good part of the time since my divorce a few years ago, relying on the kindness of strangers at Airbnb’s, or family too. So, by sending those pictures, she helped me understand that my brother offered me some normalcy via his girlfriend and her family, by taking me away to her cottage up north, where I could be a kid and have peace without the home chaos. Her dad provided opportunities for my brother to work at the marina he owned and was a successful father figure my brother was intuitively seeking out.
I can’t recall when Nate and Kelly broke up, but I do know my brother and I left home to start over in Houston a few years later. Kelly and I filled each other in on each other’s lives. We both married, had two kids, lost our partners and Nate. She lost her husband due to a long illness, while my relationship ended for complicated reasons. When I get my house…see…I’m being positive? I’m going to visit her. My things are in storage on Mack avenue in Detroit. I have the shipping receipt with her address on it stuffed in my purse. She sent our family wind chimes that has an Irish blessing inscribed on them. We had a gathering, a celebration of his life, with his friends and family at my brothers house one day. After most everyone had gone, i was out on the back porch with a few people. The wind kicked up suddenly, and the blossoms from the cherry trees were set free from the wind. The chimes rang wildly. This was a signal to me that my brother was happy. He was in peace
I’m so happy I followed my curiosity when I saw the woman with the dark hair on a beach with her back facing the camera who ‘friended’ me. I thought there was mystery in that position, but it has more to do with her grieving her husband, I’m sure. Sometimes life pulls people from the past to heal more than you can imagine. I don’t think she realizes the many gifts she brought to my life.