Dad and I drove up to Angel Fire yesterday. A town of 1100 people in a high mountain ski town. My brother Bill has lived there for 25 years. It was a long two hour drive with winding roads, little traffic and spectacular scenery.
Yesterday was just another time that I was reminded of my friend, Linda saying, “All families are fucked.” I do like to think my family is especially so, but really it isnâ€™t any more so than anyone else’s. Still, let there be no doubt, we arenâ€™t the Waltonâ€™s saying good night to each other.
Seeing Brother Bill was a bit of a shock for me. No one ever really knows, but I had the feeling that this visit could be the last time I see him. Bill had a stroke,Â two years ago and his recovery is slow going. He looked like hell. He had a hard time walking and talking. As the day went on, he perked up a bit, so maybe he has rough mornings. He doesn’t help matters any as he has put on a lot of weight, he still drinks and smokes. But, hey we all do what we do.
Bill spends all day alone with a six year old black lab, that has way more energy than Bill can handle. I know Bill loves that dog, but there were times I saw the dog cower. I’m sure Bill gets frustrated throughout the day. Bills wife, Carol works in Taos full time. (She has a commute that would entice me to move in a minute so I wouldnâ€™t have to do it, especially in the winter)
Bill also has a bit of moms hoarding qualities and yet, was in a “give it away” mood yesterday. I said no to a lot of things, but took a set of golf clubs I tried out this morning by shooting a golf off dadâ€™s back deck into the canyon. It was quite satisfying!
Bill also gave me his high school lettermanâ€™s jacket. I find it amazing that he still had it, but it fits me and will be perfect for the Homecoming football game this weekend at my class reunion. Dad said, Bill was the first person ever to letter five times in a sport at Los Alamos High School.
Dad asked for and was given a painting off Billâ€™s wall that my mother painted. It was weird as dad said it had “meaning” to him. Bill and I looked at each other when dad went on and on about how it was an abstract of their time together in NYC. But, I remember mom painting it for a class she was taking. It’s a painting of the curtain fabric that we had in the living room of the house, growing up! Oh, the stories we tell.
Bill and I never really got along. He has a temper and a mean side to him, so it was odd and I was sad for him, maybe for us, when he got quite teary eyed several times telling me how much he really, really loved me.
Families. They may be fucked â€” but we get what we get. If we are lucky, we do our own work to stay comfortable in the world. Yesterday, I felt comfortable for the first time in a long time with my brother Bill.