Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The stuff of families


My husband’s brother dropped in this morning, too early for my liking.  I find myself trying to work off my resentment as I offer him a cup of tea.  

My husband has gone for a shower while I make small talk.  My brother in law sits at the table.  his boots scuff at the floor.

My husband supports my wish to write uninterrupted in the morning.  He cannot help that his brother arrives early before he, my husband, has even had a chance to dress.  

My brother in law knows the drill.  He knows that after I have said my hellos and poured him a cup of black and sugar free tea, I will leave the kitchen and escape to my writing room. 
He knows this and seems sanguine about it but I am troubled by what seems to me like rudeness. 
You do not leave guests unattended.  

My husband will join his brother in a few minutes and then I can close the door on them both and get into my own world, but for a moment I am riddled with the guilt that comes of not being hospitable.
 
How would it be today had my husband’s brother not suffered trauma at birth all those years ago?  Had he not been starved of oxygen as he first entered the world?  Had he not been born with a mild form of cerebral palsy?

My husband’s brother grew up the oldest of six children but the responsibilities of first born fell to my husband who came next.  These responsibilities continue to this day.  

My brother in law passes all his correspondence onto my husband who sifts through, sorts out and fills out forms as necessary, ever since their parents died nearly twenty years ago.

My husband and I laughed when a bowel cancer test kit arrived earlier week, redirected to my husband by his brother.
 
‘I can fill out the forms,’ my husband told his brother on the phone, ‘but I can’t take the test for you.’
‘You’ll have to tell me what to do then,’ my brother in law said, and my husband groaned at the thought.

This is the stuff of families.  The stuff we do without question even as we might sometimes resent it.
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