Friend or Faux?

Posted by admin on August 22, 2016 in Family, Life Lessons |
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As most of you know, I am family challenged. Thirty-five years ago, my brothers ended their relationship with me, all because I had my hand in someone else’s cookie jar, a hand in jar that would lead me to divorce while I was still something of a child.

Years later, I discovered I had a half brother. How cool was that, I thought? Another family. Well, long story short, half brother was not much more than a victim of a sperm donation by my dad. We had nothing in common because, well, nurture is far stronger than nature, at least in my very selective family.

Though the “biologics” came up a bit short in the family department, I have still been able to cobble together a wonderful family of my own, thanks to some really good friends who have always had my back as I have had theirs.

Some of these “brothers” and “sisters” go way back in time, some 35 years back when my own brothers ditched me. Cassie and Mike have pretty much been my sister and brother from another mother for all those years; sticking by me through thick and thin, even through all the bone-headed decisions I’ve made.

Somehow, we always found our way back to one another. And while my mother stayed in my life for much of my adulthood, my father passed on when I was just 24.

Again a new family member stepped in to fill that void. My dear friend Bobby came into my world those 35 years or so ago, and he has been a surrogate father figure to me for these intervening years, providing me with friendship, love, acceptance and a world of sage advice.

So, as you can see, I do have a family, one by choice not by birth.

As with any adoptive family, my family has changed a lot over the years. I am only reminded of this as I wended my way through the old crewe pages in The Pyrates of the Coast website over the weekend. There, before my eyes was a collection of some two dozen acquaintances who never quite managed to become my sisters and brothers from another mother.

As I scrolled through the pages, I found myself laughing a bit. These were all people I thought important enough to let into my family, thinking that I had given them a safe harbor to play in, to be themselves and, in turn, give me back a little friendship as well as loyalty.

Yes, loyalty. If I agree to watch your back, then you damn well better watch mine. If you choose to be family, you are in the inner circle, and I will follow you through hell and high water to keep you safe and sound.

This is, after all, what families do.

Case in point. Years ago, one of my good buds suddenly headed off to Alaska. This was before the Internet, so it was easy to lose touch. We did. The whats and whys of it really don’t matter; it’s just something that comes along with the territory sometimes.

Fast forward to this year. Through a series of events, we found one another again through the miracle of Facebook. “Long Gone” John is back in Washington, back in the town where I used to live even, and back in my life.

It’s as if no time has passed at all. We simply picked up where we left off. He has my back and I have his without each of us even asking for it. And when we’re together, it’s like the old days, whether we’re out pirating together or playing music. Family.

Back to the list of former crewe. As I looked through it, I could almost instantly remember why we never jelled, why we never came to watch one another’s backs and why they drifted away. We never became friends, let alone family.

Now, if I were to come across them again today – and I have had the good fortune to do so on occasion – it’s been nice seeing them again. They moved on with their lives, I moved on with mine, there are no hard feelings, life goes on and it’s all good. We exchange pleasantries and go on our respective ways, no knives in the back, no back biting. It just didn’t work out.

But there have been a few that couldn’t seem to let go with any measure of grace. They didn’t seem to understand what makes a family. They never accepted my invitation to be family, for whatever reason, and decided not to become a true part of it.

And so we went adrift. Instead of being like brothers or sisters, we ended up feeling more like first cousins who hooked up one drunken night in the hills of West Virginia. The next day, all that remains is an awkward silence and an avoidance of eyes. Neither one wants to be the one to bring the episode up, so each ends up pretending it never happened. They person suddenly finds other places to be, anyplace except together.

Can these disconnects be fixed? In my experience, they rarely have. You can’t make someone like you if they don’t. It’s not that I’m being mean or that I wish anyone any harm in life. If you’re not friends, you damned well can’t become family.

I’m too old to give it much thought really either. People come and go in your lives, for whatever reason. Life goes on. I recently had this epiphany that I am one of those in the world who gives and gives, while others are more than glad to take and take. I sacrifice my own happiness for the happiness of others and that crap is rapidly coming to a crashing end in my life right now.

I finally figured out that having a small family is just fine; that a large family can suck a lot of life out of you. Quite frankly, I don’t know how Mike Brady ever managed all that drama in his brood.

In the Emerald City, loving my friends who have become my sisters and brothers from other mothers,

  • Robb

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