Brother and Sister

January 13, 2021
A favorite memory at 65 is my father and his older sister who were in their sixties when I remember them together most.

They really loved each other, being with the other. I can’t say/won’t say Auntie Wan was like my dad’s second wife, but she and my dad Eddie - known as Tap - had an intimacy that my mother never had with her husband.

The connection, the communication, the kindness they shared at the kitchen table late
into night - past the pedaheh and holopches she would prepare for a Sunday dinner when we travelled a couple of hours to get to their place - are fragrant memory transports to the l970s to the l990s.

I would fall asleep on the couch in a shell of happiness listening to them laugh, and drink and smoke and laugh again and again, as they approached deep-dish life wounds. Their father’s suicide when my father was not yet a year old — the death of Harvey, Auntie Wan’s three year-old son who drowned outside their beach house on a craggy coast in Nanaimo.

To listen and talk knowing that this someone understands the very blood that courses through all 206 bones in your body, is a rare thing. Certainly not all brothers and sisters have this, but I dream that most do. And I wish I did.

I loved my Auntie Wan, because she loved my dad. I found it so difficult to get close to him while he was alive. He died, three days before my husband almost thirty years ago and I’ve never missed him more than in these last two decades.

Somewhere in your 40s you realize your parents did their very best and you just want to know them. He would love the cell phone, the email - he’d be tickled with delight at all technology offers. We would, I’m sure, get into good arguments about it.

Now, that I am around the same age of both my husband and father when they died, I find myself reaching for the solid rope of tangible touch - the familiar of retelling family history…late into the night.

My skin tingles when I think how happy Tap was to be so close to his sister. Open and trusting they bridged distances; not just with words, but with the nuance of knowing - what the other was thinking.

Like lovers who phone when the other is just thinking of them. Their visceral subcutaneous scalpel poke that would incite a laugh or a ‘Naw, come on!…” gliding them into conversations that would go on, sometimes until dawn.

I could be making this up as a romantic. I just know that the relief and release of energy between them changed my life around them. Their ‘love’ brought me ‘home’ when home was not at all a corny HallMark card of skanky sweetness, but a ‘home’ where dust and grime disintegrated through the alchemy of their conversations.

I could see where I came from.

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