I was wondering why I was thinking about brothers yesterday and remembered that after class, Tuesday afternoon, a student ask if she could interview me for a paper she had to write for “Family Communications” on siblings, and since I had mentioned somehow in class that I had siblings, she thought I would do. Also she wanted she said to interview someone that was “old.” So ditto—I fit the bill.
So she interviewed me for about 20 minutes; she seemed to want to track siblings’ degree of closeness or non-closeness over a life span. She wanted to know whether I and my three brothers had been close and when. I said I really didn’t know. I had no point of reference. What’s close? What isn’t? Well, if something bad were to befall you, where would you turn? First to my wife I said, then to my shrink to talk it over, and then to my brothers. I know that if my little condo were to be hit by a meteorite and Job like I were to lose everything, one my brothers would take me in at least for a while and let me sleep on the floor or possibly even a bed, were one available.
We have kept in touch over the years, sometimes more, sometimes less. Curiously, we are all computer literate and so have used email a good deal over the last 6 or 7 years. Before email, we did not call each other much over the phone, because I think we all have a phone aversion. We have not loaned each other money over the years. That’s a good thing, I think, but then we haven’t asked each other for money because we haven’t had to.
Talking to the student, I realized suddenly that we are all non-religious. None of us belong to a church or attend regularly. I don’t know where that comes from, exactly. But as a group we are not into institutionalized religion. I don’t know if they are atheists, as I am. I think Brother Dan may be. Brother Dave possibly. Brother Steve though must have a spiritual side because at one time, as I recollect, his career choices were minister and captain in the merchant marines. But I don’t believe he has been to a church in years. In times of stress, I know for a fact, he does not read the Bible but Stoic philosophers. So maybe he is a Pagan.
I don’t know if my brothers vote or not. I expect possibly they do. And we are all relatively of the same political persuasion. Mostly we hate and distrust all politicians and think the current administration stinks to high heaven.
There was the mini-series on HBO called Band of Brothers about guys fighting together WWII. These guys would praise each other to the high heavens, especially if they were praising somebody who died in the war. But once they got home, it was clear they had little or nothing in common, though over time they did start to attend reunions. What they had holding them together were common memories of horrible experience. I think that may be what holds my brothers and me together: common memories of a miserable experience. Growing up in our parents’ house.