August 07, 2005
Time does heal
Between my post last night and reading Trucker Bob's post today, it got me thinking about a very special moment that happened in our family a few years ago.

Families are funny beasts. Words and actions can cause such large caverns and canyons, that even subsequent generations can't remember what ever happened to create them but just know that things are not right.

My Mom has a brother. He was the last born and was spoiled big time. In a wonderful way. A son born after many girls and the apple of my Grandad's eyes. My Grandmother was in her 40s when he was born, and she had a lot of trouble carrying him. She worshipped him as only a mother can. He arrived as his sisters were just at the marrying age and became their world too before they had their own children.

Then T. grew up. He turned a bit wild. He liked the girls. He liked the drink. And sadly, he liked to imbibe on other substances as well. It broke my grandparent's heart. Slowly, things went from bad to worse. My mom and her sisters watched while my grandparents lost everything they owned in the attempt to save their beloved son. He married a woman, who unfortunately made the situation worse and not better.

One day in 1978, things came to a head. My grandmother had just passed, and my grandfather was a broken shell. Knowing that soon things would shut down for my Uncle, he did a very desperate act and while my Mom had taken her Dad out for some shopping, Uncle T came into the house and took everything he could. He knew the hidden stashes of money. He knew all the secret spots. And in that very low moment, he took it all. He moved his wife and children away that day and for all we knew, he had fallen off the face of the earth.

There was anger. But I will say this, I only found out the reason for Uncle T's disappearance much much later. While I knew my Mom and her sisters were upset, and disappointed, as a little girl, I was only told that Uncle T just felt the need to 'go away for a while.' I learned not to ask too many questions though, as when I did their faces would tighten and the conversation would become tight.

I missed my cousins though. There were 3 of them and all my age. Over the years, we'd always think of them on the holidays. On their birthdays. But they didn't contact us. And we had no idea how to contact them.

There were a couple of very odd moments over the years. One time, the grandmother of one of my sisters-in-law talked to a 'lovely young woman' on the bus who spoke of her grandparents. It ended up being my cousin. A fleeting moment, though and not traceable.

Another time, a cousin was on a tug boat and heard a call go out to someone by the name of my Uncle in one of the desolate northern towns. But by the time, he got into port, that man was gone.

One of the closest calls we ever heard was when my cousin was travelling in a northern town and looked up to see someone that looked exactly like my grandfather quickly turning down another street. She ran after him, but he was gone.

A weird thing happened as well. In 1994, I had a dream about him. It was my grandmother on the deck of ship motioning for him to walk up the boarding ramp and join her. He was shaking his head. I woke up and shook my head. It had been so real.

When I worked in a local police detachment, I did something that would likely have gotten me fired had I been caught. I searched his record. I had to know. I found out his history, and where he was driving truck. I found his latest address and that he'd had a bad accident a few months before.

Finally, I got the courage to write him. That year, on his birthday, I wrote a long letter telling him all that had happened in the many years he'd been gone. About his father's passing. About his brother-in-law's passing as well. His sisters, albeit one (my mom) were all widows by then. I poured my heart out in that letter and begged him to return to us. I was young, impetuous and felt like I had to try for my family. The family was furious with me when I told them what I had done. It was then they told me that his departure wasn't under completely mysterious circumstances and only then I realized that they had only been respectful to his memory in not telling me the full story. But, even so, a few weeks later, the letter was returned. They had moved on again, with no fixed address.

I do my genealogical research as a little side hobby. It's something I love to do, but haven't had the chance in a long time. Back in 2001, I had just figured out how to do a webpage and had put up a little family tree site with some recent pictures of a family reunion.

As it turned out, my Uncle's wife had noticed an article on how to research the family tree in a magazine at doctor's office. She wrote down the address and went home that night to play around. Imagine their shock when a few little searches turned up her in-law's family. There, staring back at her, were her sister-in-law's faces from only a few weeks before.

She called my Uncle over but he would have none of it. He was an old man by now and pride (and maybe a little regret) had made him turn away from the thought of ever reuniting. From her telling it, he was very gruff and refused to talk about it again. She was undeterred. She urged her son, my cousin to email the address on the page - which of course, was me.

I didn't know what to make of the email that simply stated 'I think I am your cousin. My grandparents have the same name as yours. My name is Mxxx.' I was very emotional and phoned my mom right away. Whether it was time, or just the right moment or the planets shifted, but the family was thrilled. Of course, convincing my Uncle was another story, but it happened.

The reunion took place almost 23 years to the day that they walked away. The anger, the resentment, the 'why-did-you's' weren't there. There were simply four sisters who missed their little brother, and a little brother - now a tired looking man who felt the same.

As we caught up, we found out that so many times we had just missed them. T. felt very badly for the space he was in when he left and felt that he couldn't dig himself out of it, so he shut down . He was embarassed by his actions and tried to put miles between his past and his present.

The time on the tugs? He heard the same call, but knew my cousin was the captain so he left town before the boat could arrive. The other time in the Northern town? He saw my cousin staring at him and panicked.

And the odd dream that I had? He asked when it was. I remembered it to be September 1994. He was silent. That was the month that he had a major stroke in a logging town up north and had to be helicoptered out. They lost him a couple times but were able to revive him. He never worked again after that. But why would I, someone who was but a child when he left, have that dream? Something's can never be answered.

If we wanted to, we could still be bitter. But life is so short. And it was a gift that we were reunited. He missed his own father's final years and many other family members, and he intends not to miss any more. They've spent the last few Christmases with us. And when my Mom got sick, there was something so special about her little brother sitting beside her hospital bed.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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Turning thirty and a half
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