Family and Friends – the Worthy and the Ruthless

Hi! It’s me, Ollie. One of my sweet daughters, River, was over this past weekend for a play date. We had the best time. I hadn’t seen her since 21-May; so it was nice to get some qualify time with her at the start of autumn. It gets awfully cold here even before winter begins. It was also in May when I last saw one of my sons, Bailey. He, along with my other daughter and son, rarely write and never call. I’m told that’s typical of children once they’ve left the nest. Here I thought my mom was using guilt, but now I know.

(Ollie and River: Photo by Charma Ward Bonanno)

I mentioned this to James, and he shrugged his shoulders. It appears that his family is not particularly close. He has two brothers and two sisters. He speaks with only one sister. When I asked why, he said it’s a long story and not fit for my blog. I then asked about his parents, both of whom he told me had passed. My ears rose and I tilted my head because I’ve heard him talking to them. James told me he often speaks with them, but they don’t answer, and I’m not to tell anyone. (Oops! I’ve let the kibble out of the bag.)

(Ollie and Family: Photo by Ron)

Family has been on both of our minds this past week. I have eight siblings who I miss terribly. They’ve been scattered in the wind like the autumn leaves I love to chase. I imagine these beautiful leaves are my brothers and sisters and have a wonderful time playing with them. I suppose that’s kind of like James talking with his deceased parents. He and I are alike in many ways. I have more hair and he walks on two legs. Otherwise, well, you get my drift.

After coming back from daycare, I sat James down and got him to tell me about his family. I never thought he was a private person, but I suppose he is. He only opens up to select friends. Here I thought he was an open memoir. James surprises me daily.

His brothers, who are identical twins, were mean to him when they were growing up. He supposes that older brothers typically tease their younger siblings, but they also show them a great deal of support and love. James says he never received either love or support from either of his older brothers. As twins, they had one another for support and love, and they treated James as if he were their personal toy to kick and abuse. They also constantly rubbed it in that he wasn’t wanted. Their family already had two boys and two girls when he was born. At least his mother explained that he wasn’t planned, but always wanted.

As adults, his brothers have continued to treat him poorly. He says he tried to spend time with them and be a family, but when he was with them he was still the little brother that they would abuse and still tell him he wasn’t wanted. After his mother passed, James hoped, yet again, that they could come together. It was not to be. They were jealous that James was chosen by their mother to be one of the executors of her will. They were also upset that the house their mother lived in was in the name of James and one of his sisters. That was because James and this sister had bought the house for her. Then one of the brothers stole two items that had been left to James by their mother. He decided to cut the cord with that theft.

After hearing about the twin brothers, I asked about his sisters. James sighed, and looked at me with such sad eyes. His oldest sister has been clinically diagnosed as bi-polar. She is manic-depressive. He has fond memories of her when he was little, but she was eight years older and out of the house when he was still young. Her disease didn’t manifest itself until she was in college. After that, every time James spent any time with her, usually during a holiday such as Christmas, this sister would be disruptive. (He says he is being kind with only using that word.) Her disruptions were extensive and extremely unpleasant. After she, yet again, ruined the Christmas of 1984, James made the conscious decision to have as little to do with her as possible. During the many years of therapy in which James participated, he came to understand that it was okay to say to family, “No more.”

There is one more sibling, a sister, who James dearly loves. She lives in South Carolina so he doesn’t see her often. When they were younger, they were extremely close, but with distance and politics, they have not stayed as close as James would like. While James is a Democrat, this sister is a Republican. For a number of years, that created problems for James. Today, thank goodness, they rarely, if ever, talk about politics. This has caused them to begin to regain the closeness they once had. That makes James very happy. (James told me he will fill me in about their different political beliefs soon, so I can blog about it now that there is an election coming). She is his one contact to his biological family.

Today, Ron and I are James’ family. He and Ron were legally married in 2009 after being together for thirty years. They celebrated their thirty-seventh anniversary on 12-September. The three of us are very happy. (Oh, a treat, and I wasn’t trying for one – go figure.) We live in Vermont where James spends his days writing and Ron advises his clients on financial matters. Ron is an expert on taxes and investing. (Another treat!)

James also says he has an extended family of wonderful friends. They are there for you no matter what. A quote from the novel James is writing goes like this: “As Aristotle might have said: friends are people who share in each other’s pleasure and pain, for the sake of the friendship and nothing else.” These are the people he is completely open with. He says if you can’t trust someone, then he/she isn’t your friend. I also love the quote from Dr. Seuss that James uses at the end of his email: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Friends are to be cherished.

I hope you have a loving family life and a supporting network of friends. I’d like to hear about it, good or bad, if you are willing to share. You can talk about your family and/or friends in the comment section below.

I always enjoy hearing from you, so please leave a comment on this blog post about this or anything at all.

Until next time,
Short Stories - Author Webpage Help Needed
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)

Paw Prints courtesy of
All photos © James Stack 2016 unless otherwise indicated

8 thoughts on “Family and Friends – the Worthy and the Ruthless

  1. Ollie, James knows all about my family–well most of it–and he is a brother I have chosen as part of my family now. I’m sorry a couple of your kids don’t see you, I know how that feels, but rest assured you and James are so loved. Thank you for sharing. Now tell James he needs to give you another great!

    Happy Anniversary James and Ron!

    Liked by 1 person

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