Life, she just keeps getting weirder

So.  I’m 41 years old.  And yesterday my paradigm totally shifted.  This is not about writing. This is about family, and yearnings that go back nearly 40 years. But first, some background:

I was born in 1971.  My parents divorced shortly after I was born, though they maintained some kind of relationship.  The last time I saw my dad was in 1973.  I have no memory of him at all.  I grew up knowing his name, and that was it.

My mother died in 1977.  I was adopted by friends of the family.  Those people did their best, but their best wasn’t much.  They divorced in 1982, and she sank, due to an illness that eventually killed her, into abusive behaviors.  I grew up being yelled at, beaten, and told that I was worthless.  I was told my mother had been a prostitute who dropped me on a street corner and called my adopted mom to come take me.  I was told she died of a drug overdose.  I was told my father was a murderer.  All lies, as I discovered when the State removed me from that home and gave me into the care of my mother’s sister again when I was fifteen.

I know my real mom wasn’t a saint.  She was a pothead, and a bad mother.  I spent most of my first five years living with my grandmother and aunt and, after grandma died too young in 1975, with those “friends of the family.”  But she was no prostitute.  She didn’t throw me away; she loved me fiercely, which is why she allowed me to live with those others–she knew what she was.  And she didn’t die of an overdose; she died of a heart attack from morbid obesity and the same heart condition that killed my grandmother–a heart condition I seem to have escaped, if my cardiologist is right.

And my father was no murderer.  But he was a meth addict, and I never saw him again.  He died in 1993, just as he was cleaning his life up, victim of a stupid vehicle vs. pedestrian accident in which he was the pedestrian.

I grew up desperately wanting a family that didn’t seem to hate me.  And I got one in my aunt, her husband, and their kids, born when I was 19-22, who regard me as their big brother, and whom I love very much.  But I always wondered if there were more out there, abandoned by my father like I had been.

In searching for more information about the father I never knew, I found my uncle, and reference to a wife.  Sadly, my Uncle had never found her.  I tracked her down a few weeks ago, and she gave me the news that shifted my reality.  She said my father had had another son.

At first I thought she must be mistaken; I have a half-sister on my mother’s side, but there was no evidence of other children of my father.  But she had a name to give me, and a city of birth.  She gave me those yesterday, and I put the Google-Fu to work.

And six hours later, I found my brother.

Let me say that again, because it’s important: I found my brother.

He lives in Oregon, though he was born in San Francisco.  He’s twelve years younger than I am; I’ll turn 42 just a few weeks before he turns 30 this summer.  He has a wife, as I do.  He has a daughter, as I do.  And unlike me, he’s having another kid in just a few weeks.

And like me, he’s always wanted a brother, and missed having one.

I don’t think either of us is dumb enough to think that we’re going to have a magical relationship as if we’d grown up together.  But we have a chance to build an adult relationship.  And we’re both as excited as hell about it.

Published by Michael R. Johnston

Father of an eighth grader, high school English teacher, writer. Fifty years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA

3 thoughts on “Life, she just keeps getting weirder

  1. That’s so exciting! And I have to say you’ve done well for yourself considering all that. Congratulations.

  2. Thank you. It’s weird, the more I learn about him, the more weird it gets. We are very much alike in temperament and personality; and both very like our uncle.

    And yeah, I don’t often think of it, but I guess I did a good job surviving. I at least didn’t fall into the traps my parents did.

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