Full of sh*t

I have an older brother.  We’re both adopted, but that’s only part of the story.  He’s 2 years older than I am, and I think we had a pretty normal childhood.  Though if you listen to his side of it, it was surreal.  Almost unbelieveable.  And you’d be right, because most of the time, when he tells stories of his childhood (or later in life) there’s very little truth in what he relates.

Unfortunately, I’ve been witness to this for years.  And the few times I spoke up to put the truth to his lies, I got shouted down by his followers.  I wouldn’t say ‘friends’ necessarily, because most of them are hangers-on, the people that will abandon you when they finally find out the truth for themselves.

I was reminded of this Friday night as my brother was promoting his upcoming concert tour on a fledgling ad hoc radio station (they broadcast one night a week from the rear of a local grocery store).  As it turned out he was the guest of a local personality that is a therapist and champion of mental health.  Unfortunately, she was completely snowed and wowed by my brother, and he was pretty much given free rein to say whatever he wished, without her even batting an eye over the increasingly outlandish things he was talking about.

It has increasingly boggled my mind over the years how he manages always to get away with stuff.  Even when he has run afoul of the law, there’s always been some loophole, some way he’s been able to skate past responsibility.  I’d say he was a cat in a previous life, considering how many lives he’s managed to use up to still be out and about, but since I love cats, I can’t be that cruel.  Maybe he was a chameleon.  That might be a better analogy, I suppose.

Many friends and acquaintances of mine over the years have espoused that karma is eventually going to come to get him, but after seeing and observing him, I don’t think that’s the case.  Though if it does, when he goes boom, he’s going to take a lot of people down with him.  Not necessarily all worthy ones either.  He’s swindled more than a few people over the years as well.  But he’s very good at pulling the wool over people’s eyes.

Anyway, I just wanted to put this on pixels.  I’m not going to name names, give any clues or anything of that sort.  I just needed to get this off my chest.  It’s been bothering me.

Thanks for reading.

Hey, it’s good to be back home again

I realize that I’m writing this at the back end of my vacation, but since I haven’t posted since March, I think you, dear reader will forgive the faux pas.

I’m back home in the Hudson Valley of NY where I grew up.  I’m a little further south than where I actually lived, but that’s due to the fact that my family lives more in the Newburgh to Westchester area than the upper Valley near Kingston.

Still and all, it’s been a good trip.  With the pandemic happening last year, any trips were canceled due to health concerns, and now with the Delta variant becoming more of a problem in places, our decision to use AirBNBs to stay in, rather than hotels, ended up being the right choice.  Interaction with the public at large has been mostly at arm’s length, as everyone for the most part is still social distancing, some are wearing masks again, and others have never stopped.

This trip has mainly been one of connecting and reconnecting with my ever-enlarging family.   On the way here, we stopped in Syracuse to visit with my maternal cousins, who I haven’t seen since 1999.  While there, I was able to meet my first cousin once removed (my cousin’s daughter) whom I’d never met.  The boggling thing about that is, they only live two hours away!  Between work, responsibilities, and just life, the years have gone merrily by and we just haven’t gotten together.  Every Christmas we’d exchange cards and write in them that in the next year we needed to get together.  But we never did.  That oversight has now been rectified.

Mom, myself and brother 1967While here in the Hudson Valley, I managed to reconnect with my estranged brother and his family.  He has lived in Westchester County for the past 20 years and has a 13 yr old daughter that I’d never met.  I knew she existed, and what her name was, but I was unable (for a variety of reasons) to get there to see them.  Too, there’s been bad blood over the years, (don’t ask) and reasons why I didn’t want to go.  There was one particular reason I did need to go, and that was to collect the family photo album he’d had in his possession since we cleaned out our parent’s house.  Up to now, the only photos I had were a couple of when we were children and one or two of our parents.  I’ve had NO baby pictures at all, and that’s been a sore point of contention for me.  As I get older, I want to be able to have that family history to rely on and share with my birth mother, with whom I’ve recently been connected.Mom, myself and brother, Easter

Finally, I was able to meet and interact with my half-sister and her family.  When I was reconnected with my birth mother, I managed to meet my half-brother and his family (well, most of them) and get to know them a wee bit.  My half-brother is a workaholic and is more than a little introverted, so both meeting and getting to know him have been problematic.  My wife and I had set up a get-together for the family at our second AirBNB, but for whatever reason, my half-brother decided at the last minute to decline.  His children are older than his sister’s (college-age versus toddlers) so getting together that side of the family might have proved a bit more difficult.  Even so, it was a good time.  I got to meet my brother-in-law and my nephews are both amazing and hilarious.   Watching them play caused me to remember how my brother and I played and interacted.

I would definitely say this trip has been a success.  I have a treasure trove of memories for the future and a box full of slides to digitize and share with my birth mother, and my other family so they can see what has been obscured these many decades.

Going home will be good (the beds in these AirBNBs are murder!), but I’ve had a really good time here too.  Vacations are both tiring and awesome.

Melancholy Holiday

Today, 31 years ago, my Mom died.  This is a picture of her at age 8, with her Uncle George in Ballston Spa, NY.  One of my cousins shared this picture with me about 5 years ago.  I don’t recall ever having seen it before at that time.  My cousin told me that George apparently always had these pants that were too big for him, so the family invariably called him George ‘Baggy Pants‘ Burton.  

Her passing (to me) was one of those things that you’ll remember as long as you live, and of course, the day just happens to be the same one as when John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

I’m not going to relate the circumstances of her passing, that’s a story left untold.  I remember it vividly, that’s sufficient.  I don’t have a lot of pictures of her growing up and in her teens and twenties.  I do have a few pictures of her and my father, but the majority of the family pictures are with my brother, who, for whatever reason refuses to share them.  (Which admittedly is somewhat weird, since he is in denial about what sort of childhood he had with them and myself)  Consequently, I’m left with my own memories and a few pictures that I’ve had saved, as well as shared photos from my cousins who are still living.

Every year that goes by, I celebrate her birthday on July 14, recall my parents’ wedding anniversary on October 8, and of course mourn the date of her death, November 22.

I miss you every day Mom.