The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

March 6, 2008

My bros and me...


First, I love that I come from a big family. And I love that we're evenly split, three brothers and three sisters.

The two nobs above are my two brothers -- Gerry on the left (the youngest) and Doug on the right (No. 2 in age behind me).

I will forever love my mom and dad for having tons of kids. My mom popped us out about every 12-18 months or so, like some assembly line operation that got wildly out of control.

After me and Doug, three sisters came along: Lori, Lisa and Shauna. Then Gerry.

While my sisters are very special to me -- probably, all of them, much closer to my heart, as females can be, because they're so much about the heart -- my brothers are also very special to me.

And this is about my brothers, two very special dudes.

And the context here is that while my three sisters live here with me in the city we were raised in, my two male siblings are not here. Doug's in Eastern Ontario. Gerry's in northwestern Ontario, about a two-hour drive away.

And us three brothers have only been in sporadic contact in the past 20-30 years or so as we've built our lives and our careers and our families and seen a lot of changes geographically and every which way in all those ways.

Jobs have been abandoned and others have replaced them; dreams have been lost, to be similarly replaced by others; marriages have been lost, with great pain one of the results; but lives have been rebuilt.

Even through all of this, and almost as a sidelight in a way, have re-emerged our brotherly beginnings, our childhood jokes and criticisms and debates, parts of our weird relationships, while all this has gone on.

And this is an amazing thing.

And I need to begin with my brother Doug, whose most memorable words to me ever were: "There is love in silence."

Doug is a very intense and alive soul.

He cares about things most people don't care about. He's a stickler for detail, in some ways, and if he doesn't understand you, he asks -- no, demands -- to know what it is you're talking about.

Doug is far more quiet and cerebral than I am, I think.

The guy is/was brilliant. He's younger than me but in Navy League Sea Cadets, he made the Chief Petty Officer's rank while I was just an "Acting Petty Officer."

So that meant he was my frickin' boss as we were on the poop-deck, the little moron. Actually, he's the farthest thing from a moron. He's super intelligent, both emotionally and intellectually.

I could not/can not match him.

But I sure gave him a tough time when I would try. I remember us both as little boys with blonde, curly hair. He had big wire-rimmed glasses early on, while I didn't get have to get glasses til I was 14 or so.

I was always getting into trouble, going up on the apartment roof-top with the other neighbourhood troublemaker, for instance, to throw little pebbles at the kids below.

Doug was more on the straight and narrow, as I recall.

It's strange how, as a younger brother, he used to hang out with me and my friends. Later on, as teens, I ended up hanging out more with his group of friends than my own.

And he accepted me into that group.

I have always admired Doug for his sensibilities and his no-BS approach to things, even though he could and can be a pain in the ass sometimes. Because he's very intellectual and that's where he argues from.

I usually argue from an emotional point of view. He usually wins those arguments, the cad.

While I was the high school sports guy, he was the president or vice-president of the student council.

Enough said. But I think we have both taught stuff to each other.

And when he was going through his split with his ex, we had very intense exchanges of support or advice, which I'll always remember.

The thing is that now, he has evolved enough to find someone new, and he's found a great job where he can finally use his brilliant talents.

But his unwavering support for his kids and his absolute insistence on being a great dad has always been there.

And perhaps more than anything else, that's what makes Doug a guy anyone should dig.

I admire him greatly. He is an incredible man. I am proud of him and I am proud to say I take lessons from him on how to be a better person.


On to Gerry...

Gerry is the biggest, physically, of us all. But he's the youngest of us all. So for most of us, he was just the young punk kid growing up at 196 Kitson Street. An afterthought, in a way; a late throw-in to the fray.

A last son or brother. Or should that be bother? He has always had attitude.

The thing about Gerry is, he's pretty intense but laid back at the same time. And he looks quite a bit like me, the lucky guy, but in a taller package.

All I can tell you is he's a kibitzer, somewhat like me. And this is no surprise, seeing as he and I hung around quite a bit together when I was a teenager and he was a punk.

And I mean punk only in the most fond of ways.

See, Gerry was a pretty good athlete. He became a very good hocky goaltender, and we spent a lot of time in our basement with me shooting rubber pucks at him and playing hockey.

Those are some of my most happy memories.

My dad was a goalie and so he loved that Gerry was too, and that was one of the things that tied them together, but in another way, it tied Gerry and I together too.

Still, at some point, I moved on to other things. And I kind of evolved away from him as I got involved with women and stuff.

And he and I, at least in some way, partially lost that childhood connection that had seen him come with me searching the backlanes for bugs and stuff or playing spongee on the front street.

Except that when I was about 22 or so and he was about 12, and I was on a trip to India, I received a little letter from him.

It was type-written and not paragraphed, just a bunch of lines thrown all together.

And kind of stuck there in the middle of a glob of sentences on how hockey was going or whatever, out of nowhere, hidden in the thicket of this's and that's, was a line something like this: "I miss you a hell of a lot."

I have always remembered those few words.

But here we are now, all grown up. And he's got an important job running a very important tourist region in northwestern Ontario.

And we see each other from time to time when he comes into the city.

And, as with Doug, we still have some important connection that, now through email, has been reconnected and enhanced. And it's most certainly cool.


  1. WW, it is wonderful that through all the changes in your life and your brothers' lives, you have managed to recapture the connection that you had with each other as kids. So many people totally lose that, or never had it in the first place. I also come from a family of six kids and can relate to the dynamics of such a large group. It is a special and wondrous thing to have close relationships with your siblings. I am close to all of mine... it is the best feeling to be able to say your brother or sister is also your friend. Because, as we all know, you can choose your friends but you can't choose your family. How special is it that we can have them both in the same people!

  2. Beautiful, eloquent, and touching... as usual.

  3. Yes, but can they write like you? If this was a book I wouldn't be able to put it down. I wish you were my big brother.

  4. Ponygirl:

    Well, thanks...we haven't totally recaptured it, of course, but we're in the process of recapturing it in different ways, thanks largely to the Web and email.

    But when I think about it, we never really lost the connection we had as kids, it just dimmed somewhat over time.

    We were and are a wacky, loud family of individuals, and I mean individuals, and it was a rambunctious upbringing filled with a lot of emotion and dynamics but also a lot of fantastic stuff that knit us all together.

    Big families and lots of brothers and sisters is the only way to go, I think, and I wouldn't change a thing.


    Thank you, dear girl.


    Well, maybe not LIKE me, in my way, but in their own way they both sure can.

    Doug works in communications with the feds and is very good at his job, writing speeches and press releases, etc.

    He was also published in a book of poetry when he took courses with the Canadian poet, Irving Layton.

    Gerry is also in the communications business, in a sense, promoting a big area of Northwestern Ontario as a tourist destination.

    So he produces a lot of travel material through writing, photos and other materials.

    And ha! If I was writing a book, you'd never be able find all the chapters to actually ever read it!

    I'll be your big brother any time...

  5. Wow...... what a wonderful post.. and bloody hell you are all clones likealikes of each other :)....

    I, just before crimbo went out for a meal with my older sister (11 yeas older and down from Scotland) and my older brother (2 years older and lives 2 miles from me lol), my younger brother (7 years younger was not there but is in Canada somewhere) with my 4 sons and their girlfriends my brothers one daughter my sisters 4 kids are scattered all over the world.... well it was the first time we had been together for what must of been 15 years and 7 years since we have actually talked proper to each other.... we were so very close a youngesters before our family was ripped apart by 'parents deaths' etc (long story)....... anyways.... much water under the bridge some things so very hard to shove to the back of ones mind.... but I agreed to go and the years just flew back...... (ok tears typing this)-it was the first time my brother had sat with my sons even though he only lives a few miles away... he told me how much he had missed their growing up and how he could of been there since me divorce as a 'man figure' for them and that he was so very deeply sorry that he abandoned me and my sons.. as did me sister..... we laffed and cried and the youngesters laffed at how intune with each other the 3 of us were, and the stories we told of growing up and how the connection had not really been broken but had just unfrayed a little.... the youngsters sat opened mouthed at how we could finish each others sentences and how very very much alike in the things we did and our sense of humours.... AND how strange it was that we all wore the SAME glasses LMFAO...... only mine are for long distance and theirs was for short distance.....

    OK I will stop now cos its so very hard to explain that evening back in December.... I havent heard a single word from either of them since LOL...... maybe one day I will have the strength to share with someone all the things I have to hold inside on me own lol

    Im glad you have your loving family ....... this was a very touching post...... fanks Shake it all about...


  6. sorry I didnt mean to type so much....... just delete the rubbish lol


  7. yes, I wish you were my big brother too!

    Himself is the 2nd of 6 but they don't seem to have the same connection, it's a real shame.

  8. Chris, thanks for sharing this wonderful post with us. One can feel the love and pride in your words. I am sure you brothers feel the same way about you.

    Siblings are always so special even if we live apart from each other.

    As you know (I always keep mentioning it) I have three brothers and I am very close to them. Someday, hopefully I write about them like you did. Problem is, I would get mushy.

    BTW, I do write a lot of prose in the form of book reviews on my book blog (Click on my name). I call that my intellectual blog. Speaking of poetry, it simply pours out of me. Sometimes, I do not know how and why and what. Do I make sense?

  9. A beautiful post. Your words are always so refreshingly uplifting.

    I love the quote "There is love in silence" from your brother,Doug. Its extremely profound.

    Have a great weekend!

  10. I bet the insides of their fridges are cleaner than yours.

  11. Marmite Toasty:

    Holy sh*t, what a comment...there's not a letter of rubbish in there, it should be a post all by itself...

    This was obviously a huge reunion sort of thing, a big moment in your life, Melody...

    And there's so much more you didn't say...

    All I can tell you is I think it was great to have your sons see your family, there was a whole lotta shakin' goin' on...

    I hope you DO hear from them again at some point, or initiate more contact again yourself if that's appropriate, after all that stuff came out that came out...



    Well wait now, you and Andrea are getting a bit carried away with the big bro thing...

    I pulled my sisters' bra straps constantly, mimicked them, farted in front of them...

    You sure you want that?

  12. Beautiful tribute.
    You had me from "the two nobs"
    *wipes eye

    It is an interesting examination of the effects of environmental influences & genetic traits.. because I see various levels of these characteristics in you.

  13. Brothers in arms ay? :) Wonderful post! LOVE the wonderful brotherhood echoing here!

    And ur pic with ur middle finger up cracked me up big time LOL!


  14. Gautami:

    Nothing wrong with getting mushy, so go for it!

    And as far as your BTW, while I appreciate books, I don't read a lot of them and so book reviews wouldn't really be my thing.

    I sure did like the one post you did that wasn't poetry, though, as much as I do like your poetry!

    You always make sense!


    Thanks! And I agree, those words have always stayed with me...


    Ha! It may be true in Gerry's case, seeing as he has a wife, but Doug...I'm not so sure about his fridge.


    Here, let me wipe that tear NOB! That reference to two nobs WAS quite touching, wasn't it?


    Why, thanks! But that's my brother Gerry giving the one-finger salute to me as I'm taking his picture!

  15. That's really nice. My brother and I were never really close. I like him well enough, and we're both Monty Python fans, but he's always been smarter and quieter and has a more dry wit. I'm more exhuberant and I laugh a lot, although that's lagely just compensation for my shy and uncertain nature. I often used to wish I had a sister - but my mother had a sister, and she tells me I'm better off without!

  16. What a nice bunch of brothers! I can only hope that my two sons never lose the closeness.
    They are cute but I think you are the cutest. Just my humble opinion.

  17. My goodness your mother must have had her work cut out for her with you boys. I actually read this post the other day but didn't get around to commenting for some reason. It's just so lovely that you wrote about your brothers. I hope they will get to read it.

  18. Stace:

    Well, I guess things are what they are. My sisters are gold to me, they let me tease them and they tease me back, believe me...

    It's OK if you and your brother are different. I can see your exuberance and your life!


    Yeah, I think I'm the cutest too. (Although Gerry is almost a carbon copy of me, so I've been told, just taller)

    I hope your two sons never lose that closeness either. Something like that just always is.


    Are you kidding? My mom LIVED for us boys! We've always made her life, um, interesting...

    I consulted my bros before doing this post and they were OK with it, and with me posting their pix.

    They're both great guys. I could not ask for better male siblings. Both have taught me a lot and we've had lots of laughs...and maybe a few black eyes here and there when we were growing up...

  19. wow ww, what a fantastic tribute to your brothers! truly wonderful!!!

  20. Angel:

    Thank you, really...


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