Posts Tagged ‘reunion’

Untwisted Sister

June 15, 2014

Friday June 14th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

This was my Facebook post today, and what made me decide I should start blogging again:

Yesterday was a rare day all around. Not only was it Friday the 13th AND a full moon, I got together with my sister Tammy at her house to celebrate her birthday which is actually Sunday the 15th. We had not spoken or had contact for a full TWENTY YEARS until all three of my siblings and I got together this past March for a reunion meal.

Family relationships can be infamously and notoriously delicate, and I know I’m not the only one that has been estranged from siblings or parents for years. I will say that our wayward tribe is at the top of the extreme list though, but the crackpots and wackadoos it all trickled down from are now dead and we are left and doing our best to ‘break the chain’.

There was a touch of awkwardness in March, but it didn’t last long. We had a really fun time that night, and it was a tremendous start. Last month I cautiously asked Tammy if I could take her out for a birthday meal, and she suggested we get together at her house to have a barbecue instead.

I had never seen her house, and she bought it with lottery winnings. She won a nice chunk of money 19 years ago – and then paid off the rest of the family so they wouldn’t tell me she won. It was very hurtful then, but we were both able to share a hearty laugh about it in March, and any pain or ill feelings are long gone.

There was also a time when I was 17 and lived with Tammy and her husband Jake when they were newly married and I needed a place to live. The rampant dysfunction in our family made it necessary to leave my grandparents’ house where I was raised because our grandfather had died and our grandmother was an icy cold German who had her own severe childhood issues. She passed a heap of them down to my father, and he in turn passed them on to us. The chain needed to be broken.

Tammy didn’t have to take me in but she did, and it was a very tense time for everyone. I used to bitch about her cooking constantly, but she was 21 and newly married and the last thing she needed was an asshole brother in the mix. I didn’t see that then, but I see it with crystal clarity now. I never felt close to Tammy as a small child, and sure didn’t at that time either.

Last night, Tammy grilled out a delicious feast of steak and chicken, and made a homemade pasta salad and cake that were probably the most delicious home cooked dishes I have ever eaten. The company helped, and I savored every scrumptious bite and every minute of conversation with her and Jake. We sat down to eat and before we knew it five hours had passed.

She hauled out a giant plastic storage tub of photo albums and we looked at all kinds of family pictures I had never seen before – and many that I had. Twenty years away is a long time. There were several pics of all of us as kids, and from the time when I lived with her. It brought back a flood of memories good and bad, but I think we needed to look through them together and just let a healing process take over. There were some deep thoughts exchanged between the three of us about topics that have been festering in all of us for decades – but not ONE cross word. We were intelligent adults discussing painful memories.

Our mother left when I was five months old, and Tammy was 4 1/2. She has her own pain and issues with it, and it’s different from mine. She is the only girl, and has been dealing with her pain the best she can all these years. She and Jake raised two very sweet kids and now they are grandparents of four more. They live a quiet peaceful life, and are doing a great job breaking the chain.

The four of us siblings could NOT be any more different people, but we all came from the same genetic cesspool. Our brother Larry was scheduled to come, but had a last minute emergency and had to back out. Our other brother Bruce Dobrient lives in Florida. I was sorry we couldn’t all get together again as a group, but I think it was important for Tammy and me to get some one on one time after all these years apart. I didn’t feel even a hint of any negative energy.

I never felt close to Tammy as a kid, and it felt like she just didn’t like me. All I wanted was to have a chance as adults to sit and air our feelings intelligently so we could both see where the other was coming from. We totally did that last night, and it went exactly as I hoped it would.There is no lingering anger on either side and I think we can FINALLY start to build a sibling relationship after all the pain and insanity we have both had to face. I know it will end very well.

What a one of a kind surreal day it was on so many levels. If it took a full moon and Friday the 13th to do it, so be it. I know there are others that have been apart from their families for years. I thought I would NEVER get a chance to reunite with any one of my three siblings, but now I am on good terms with them all and I know it’s not fake or temporary. We all realize the delicate nature of life, and despite where we all came from we are solid people and I’m proud of us all.

All four of us could easily have gone off the deep end and been serial killers or habitual criminals and nobody would have blamed us, but we have all chosen to fight it out and do our best. Getting together with Tammy was a highlight of my life, and at the end of the night she gave me a hug and invited me back any time I want to show up. I have a comedy show at the Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee on July 19th, and she and Jake are planning on coming out. Larry and Bruce will be invited too. I am just overjoyed to have this happen. Even if they don’t make it out, I’m sure we’ll all get together again.

I have no idea if anyone even read this far, but I had to get it out of my system. I think I’m going to start up my blog again because there is so much happening I can’t keep track of it all.

The point of this post is – patience DOES pay dividends. I will cherish last night’s visit for the rest of my life, and I know Tammy got something from it too. If you have a rotten or even slightly shaky family situation, HANG IN THERE because I am living proof it can totally change – and for the better.

We’re not the Cleavers and never will be, but we’re not the Munsters anymore either. What a relief! Miracles do happen, and this is something I’ve been asking for my entire life. It was without a doubt the best Friday the 13th of all time.

I still have a mountain of problems to climb, but this was a great healer of my inner turmoil.

This was THE best Friday the 13th I could ever imagine.

This was THE best Friday the 13th I could ever imagine. I would love more like it.

Sibling Revelry

March 10, 2014

Saturday March 8th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI

What a nightmare. Today was the day I would finally be able to meet up with my siblings after a lifetime of pain and estrangement to hopefully get a much needed fresh start, but it could NOT have gone any worse. I showed up on time ready to make peace, but all of the old fires were relit.

All it turned out to be was a continuation of the ugly past, and smoldering embers that have had decades to stay warm ignited into raging flames within minutes. Before the appetizers arrived we were right back in the emotional sewage I’ve been trying to escape and flinging it at each other.

Everyone knew exactly what buttons to push to take the rage level to the absolute highest point of stress, and out of desperation we all went straight for each other’s emotional throats. Before it could calm down, the restaurant called the police to break up the melee. Hope was gone forever.

That’s how the nightmare went. Fortunately, that’s not at all how it turned out in real life. Part of being a dented can is almost automatically expecting the worst to happen, only because we’ve seen it so often in our lives. We’re deathly afraid to get our hopes up for anything, because when they do get stomped into the mud it hurts even more. That’s just how it is, and becomes habitual.

I’ll admit I was scared to death of this experience, and even though I thought it would go well there was still that ugly thought it could blow up in my face. I had several dreams about it, and at this point I just wanted to get it all over with so if it did go sour I could move on and let hope die.

Actually I was the one that ended up being late. It wasn’t intentional, and I originally wanted to leave early just to make sure I’d get there. But as usually happens the phone kept ringing with all kinds of things I needed to take care of, and before I knew it I was scrambling to make it on time.

I thought it would be appropriate to bring some kind of peace offering, even though I knew that wasn’t part of the deal. Nobody was expecting anything, but I thought it would be a nice touch so I wanted to do it. One thing I know all three have in common is that they enjoy casino gambling.

I stopped at a gas station and bought $99 worth of scratch off lottery tickets, and asked the lady to give them to me in three strips of 33. She gave me an odd look, but I didn’t waste time with an explanation because it only would have made me even later. I also bought three individual lottery tickets for the big jackpot tonight, and was on my way. I wanted to make sure things went well.

I arrived at the Cheesecake Factory in Mayfair Mall ten minutes late, and of course the parking lot was completely full. I couldn’t find a spot and people were waiting for others to pull out and I thought I was going to have an aneurism. I’d waited forty years for this chance, and now I had to wait for some lard ass polock to back his minivan out of a space so another one could squeeze in.

That was ten more minutes of torture, but I eventually found a spot and walked to the restaurant – which was as full as the parking lot. I made my way past the hostess and looked for faces I had not seen in decades but knew all too well. Sure enough, there they were. They all looked at me at once, and I was paralyzed with fear. The dented can in me was terrified they would immediately go to that most horrific place, but they just smiled and said hello. I knew then it would go well.

I said “I do think hugs are in order here,” and I did. None of our family has ever been huggers and I absolutely HATE it when a stranger does it, but this was a special occasion and I thought it was the right thing to do. They weren’t big long sloppy ones, but for us to start that way was very good. I passed out the scratch off tickets, and I could see they were a hit. It was worth the delay.

“I thought we might run out of things to talk about, so I brought these to make sure we wouldn’t get bored,” I said. They laughed. Then I sat down and said “So…anything NEW?” They laughed again, and it was a pleasant experience after that. The awkwardness was there, but it soon faded.

I took the lead and started with an apology. I stumbled through it, but it was very sincere. I said that anything I could say wouldn’t be an excuse, but there were reasons for why I did and said all the things I did and said. They sat through it, but I didn’t feel they needed to hear it like I thought they might. I’m glad I took ownership of it up front, but it faded quickly after that. I was thrilled.

My sister Tammy had a few things she wanted to say, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined. In fact, what she had pointed out was something I never even remembered saying. We all agreed those things were in the past, and not why we came together. That was the only bit of old news.

Brother Bruce was unbelievably approachable, and of any of us he’s the one that has made the most marks in the world. He’s done very well for himself in his career, and is very charming and funny and I see why he’s successful. He has his own business and not only paid for the meal – he flew up from Florida on his own dime to make sure we could all get together. What a classy act.

Bruce and I really clashed as kids, and it was very ugly. His mother was our step mother, and it just wasn’t a good position to be us. That was then, and I have a whole new perspective now like we all do. I’m sorry it started out so poorly, but he is extremely intelligent and I’m proud to have him as a brother. I accept him, Tammy and Larry unconditionally, and I hope they do me as well.

Brother Larry had it the worst of all of us. Our father used him as a human punching bag, and if there was ever anyone that would be a prime candidate to be an ax murderer it would be him. He took a LOT of abuse, but he has such a peaceful demeanor one would never know it. He’s one of the most laid back and easygoing people I have ever met, and it was wonderful to see him again.

Larry is the exact opposite of me, as when someone gets in my face I go toe to toe immediately and don’t back down. Larry is unbelievably slow to anger, but when he does – look out. He’s put people in the hospital, and is well trained in martial arts. That’s how he dealt with all his anger.

The meal was absolutely delicious, and we had fun just talking and reconnecting. We didn’t get too deep on any subject, and it was comfortable enough that we even talked about “him” for a bit – even though we’d agreed beforehand not to go there. We were all able to handle it, so we did.

We also sadly agreed that we were all robbed of our childhoods. We’ve all been doing our best with the hands we’ve been dealt, and we all loudly agreed we intend to “break the chain”. I think we’re all doing great despite where we came from, and this night could not have come at a better time for all of us. It’s a start – albeit a great one – but I have no idea where we will go from here. We all hugged goodbye, and I had a satisfying drive home. The nightmare did NOT come true!

I don't have an exact date of when my three siblings and I were in the same room at once, but I was probably around this old. It's been WAY too long, and I'm glad we could get back together.

I don’t have an exact date of when my three siblings and I were in the same room at once, but I was probably around this old. It’s been WAY too long, and I’m glad we could get back together. It was a great start to a happy ending.

Random Reflections

February 18, 2014

Monday February 17th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

For as long as I’ll be around, February 17th will have personal significance. It’s not because of the fact it’s both Michael Jordan and Larry The Cable Guy’s birthdays, but that’s also in the mix. They were both born the same year as me, and they’ve achieved levels of success few ever reach.

Nobody doubts Michael Jordan’s esteemed position, but “Larry” is a topic of debate. For one, that’s not the name I know him as but I have nothing but respect for what he has done. He’s the same age as me, and worked many of the same gigs I did on his long way up the comedy ladder.

He found what the public likes, and cashed in. Good for him! I don’t begrudge him in the least. He earned it, and by all accounts is a very nice guy. I haven’t seen him in quite a while and we were never close buddies, but we did cross paths a few times and always got along splendidly.

I’m long past caring in the least what any entertainer does in their act. Michael Jordan played sports, and that’s an unforgiving force. The nicest person in the world will get cut if they aren’t able to meet the physical requirements. That’s all it is. There is no gray area whatsoever there.

Entertainment is a whole other scenario. It’s completely subjective, and what is great to one is garbage to another. Is “Larry” funny? Millions of paying customers think so, and that’s the only thing that matters. Comedians like to say “I’m WAY funnier than THAT” while driving to their gig in a town nobody ever heard of that pays $200 flat while ‘hacks’ sell out arenas nationwide.

I admit, I used to be one of those elitist comedy snobs that thought I knew what funny is. Who gives me or anyone else that right to think we have authority and/or control on what’s funny or not funny? It doesn’t matter in the least. All that matters is who can sell tickets. That’s the key.

Does Dane Cook make me laugh? He hasn’t yet, and I doubt if he will in the future. Most of my comedian friends share the same opinion, yet he’s performing for more people in one night than most of us do in six months. Who’s ‘funny’ now? I’m changing my ways in my old age.

Do I think Larry The Cable Guy is funny? I really don’t care. I’m not his target audience, so what’s the difference? If we cross paths again – and I hope we do, I like the guy – we won’t be talking about either of our acts anyway. We’ll share pleasantries, and that’s all that I care about.

I’ve got enough to worry about doing what I think is funny, and finding enough people that are in agreement and will pay to come see me perform. I have a pretty good grasp on who my crowd is, but I need to get in front of a lot more of them in a hurry so I can sock away some cash soon.

Michael Jordan and Larry The Cable Guy are just a month older than me on a calendar, but as far as finances go they’re eons ahead. They could live like kings for six lifetimes, but I still have to worry about paying my bills every month. I thought I’d have that figured out by now, but no.

Every time I see Michael Jordan have another birthday, part of me feels like I never came close to where I could have. He’s got a gorgeous new wife and twin babies, and I’m trolling back into my past hoping women I had a crush on years ago might toss me a mercy date. I’m embarrassed.

But that’s not why this date has personal significance. Today was my grandmother’s birth date in 1911, and coincidentally the date her son (and my father) died. I don’t know if that carries any meaning in the cosmos, but it always causes me to reflect on this date whether I want to or not.

I almost let the day get by without thinking of it, but then I signed online and the first picture I saw was a photo I’d never seen before of my father and step mother when they were very young. My brother Bruce posted it, and it caused me to do a double take when I saw it. That’s not how I remember either one of them, and it cast a whole new light on things. Everybody’s life changes.

Bruce and I have only recently become Facebook friends, and I’m thrilled we are. I commented on the picture and how I had never seen it before, and it started us on a positive exchange about a lot of things that gives me confidence that our reunion in March will be nothing but spectacular.

I’m seeing a side of him as an adult that I never saw as a kid, and it’s amazing. He’s extremely intelligent and very sharp witted and funny. My other brother Larry and sister Tammy are funny in their own way too, so if nothing else I think we’ll have some big laughs – and also some tears.

I couldn’t help but stare at that picture for a bit. I don’t have any pictures of my father. Not just none with me – none period. He was such an evil ogre in my memory that I wanted to block him out of my life force from an early age. We never posed for any pictures together, and that’s sad.

The image of my step mother Ann was anything but what was in the picture. She was younger than I’d ever known her, and I have to say quite attractive actually. She was the polar opposite of that in my childhood, and I remember praying for her slow and painful death. The saddest part of that is that I got it. She died at only 59 from the horrific complications of diabetes of all things.

It was only when I heard she died that I was able to forgive her. She was Bruce’s mother and it was very apparent that we were the step children. It was torture to live through as a kid, but now I can see why it was. Blood IS thicker than water, and she didn’t have to be nice to us. My father made her life pure hell, and it was all a big gaping wound that is just now starting to heal over.

My grandmother was no June Cleaver mother figure either. She came with her own bag of ugly and that was passed down to my father, who passed it on to Ann and us. Grandma was a cold one for sure, and Bruce hated her just as much as I couldn’t stand Ann. But now they are ALL dead.

And soon enough, Bruce and Tammy and Larry and I will join them. We have limited time and opportunities to patch things up, and live the rest of our days in peace. I have wanted this to take place since childhood, and I can feel it will be good for all of us. Our exchange today was a treat.

People can and do change, or at least let their guards down. I built a terrific relationship with Grandma before she died, and that’s how I’ll remember her. Ann and Russ (I just can’t come to call him ‘Dad’) were a different story. They and I never hit it off, and that’s a painful memory.

Bruce idolizes Ann, and I’m glad. I will never say anything bad about her again, and I’m very sorry and ashamed for what I’ve said in the past. But that was a lifetime ago, and I can see how much we’ve all grown. Bruce and Tammy and Larry and I have a real chance at a happy ending!

Michael Jordan and I were born less than a month apart in the same year. That's about all we have in common unfortunately.

Michael Jordan and I were born less than a month apart in the same year. That’s about all we have in common unfortunately.

Larry The Cable Guy has the same birthday as Michael, but we have crossed paths a few times. Nice guy, and I respect what he has accomplished. Like Michael, he's had a great ride.

Larry The Cable Guy has the same birthday as Michael, and we’ve have crossed paths a few times. Nice guy, and I respect what he has accomplished. Like Michael, he’s had a great run of success.

Today is also the anniversary of my father's death. This is a picture I hadn't seen before today, and it's nothing like how I remember him. I want to be nothing like he was - or at least that awful memory.

Today is also the anniversary of my father’s death. This is a picture I hadn’t seen before today, and it’s nothing like how I remember him. I aspire to be nothing like he ever was – or at least that awful memory.

It's also the birth date of my grandmother in 1911. Here's a dorky picture of me, and her in some sort of Loyal Order of Water Buffalo attire. Not sure where she got that, but PITA wasn't happy.

It’s also the birth date of my grandmother in 1911. Here’s a dorky picture of me, and her in some sort of ‘Loyal Order of Water Buffalo’ attire. I’m not sure where she got that getup, but I’m sure PETA wasn’t happy.

A Date In Stone

February 8, 2014

Monday February 3rd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

It has been roughly six weeks now, and I’m still riding a high from the thought of reconnecting with my siblings. It has already changed my entire life for the better, and I feel it every day. I am very realistic in what I’m expecting from the actual meeting, and whatever happens I can handle.

All I ever wanted was closure, and I do think I’ll get it. The email exchanges I’ve had with my brother Bruce have gone tremendously well, and I can tell that he’s on the same wavelength that I am. Him getting our sister Tammy to come along was huge, as I wouldn’t have been able to do that. I don’t even know how to get a hold of her, but she agreed through Bruce to be a part of it.

Our other brother Larry is in too, and that’s everyone. I never really had a falling out with him, but for whatever reason we just fell out of touch. It’s been years, and I’ll be glad to see them all. It could have happened one at a time I suppose, but it’s going to happen all at once and I love it. I’m glad we’re all on the same page, and we’ve waited long enough. I’m looking forward to this.

Bruce will be flying up from Florida in March, and our scheduled meeting date is set for March 8th. Of course I have received several inquiries for bookings on that night – and well paid ones at that – but this is one time I wouldn’t think about budging. I’ve cleared my calendar, and that’s it.

There will be a lot of emotion I’m sure, and I want to enjoy every minute of it. I never thought I’d get this opportunity, and I don’t intend on blowing it. I know there’s a possibility it could get uncomfortable or even ugly, but even if that happened I won’t be upset. It won’t come from me.

I highly doubt it will come from the others either. This has been painful far too long, and even getting us all in a room is a major accomplishment. I don’t want anything but peace and closure, and from the tone of Bruce’s email that’s what everyone else wants too. If I have to sit through a few awkward moments I’m more than willing to do that for the chance at turning this all around.

Whatever happens after that date is really unimportant. I would love to be able to stay in touch with all of them, and at least have an open door for the rest of our lives. We are all getting older, and life isn’t guaranteed to anyone of any age. I’m glad we can do this while we’re all still alive.

I can only speak for myself, but I’m ecstatic this is happening. It has made my whole life better before it even happens, and the rest is gravy. It’s affecting the rest of my life, and I’m finding the change to be exactly what I wanted. All kinds of new people are coming into my life, and I feel a healthy and positive vibe everywhere. It should have been like this all along, but now it finally is.

The load that has been lifted off of my entire life is enormous, and I know now six weeks later that this was no temporary bipolar manic upswing. This was exactly where the source of my pain was for so long, and it has been addressed dead on. The results will have a major impact forever.

They already have. Absolutely everything about my life is markedly better, and I attribute this fact directly to this particular event. This was exactly what I needed, and I hope we can all come out of it better people with hope for the future. If nothing else, I want us to end any hostilities of the past and let the healing begin for us all. It already has for me, and it’s the best I’ve ever felt.

I don't know exactly how long it's been since all of my siblings and I have been in the same room, but it's been decades. We're scheduled to do it March 8th, and I'm thrilled beyond words.

I don’t know exactly how long it’s been since all of my siblings and I have been in the same room, but it’s been decades. We’re scheduled to do exactly that on March 8th, and I’m thrilled beyond words.