The Big Question

Well, that was strange. I just met my brother in the supermarket …. briefly. He was with Val and has put on weight. When he asked me what I was doing in there, I found myself hearing his response to the same question had I asked it, “Shopping. What’s it look like?” The most talking was done by Val. Her son, Thomas, is now 25. He was just a baby the last time I saw him! Tim asked me where I was living and when I told him he replied, “Well, I wouldn’t know, would I?” We got outside and I remarked that I’d forgotten where I’d parked the car (I had forgotten) and then said, “Well, see you in another 10 years maybe”. I think I caught a hint of an odd look from Val but I wasn’t facing her full on so I can’t be sure. And then I walked away.

I didn’t feel any compunction to hang around, like I might have done had it been a long-lost friend, but I was left with an odd feeling. Indifference, slightly irritated, wanting to ask loads of questions about our family, not wanting to know anything about him and his life, and vaguely wondering what his reaction was and what he was feeling after I left them.

Did the irritation come from not asking the questions I wanted to ask? Or was I irritated before I went into the supermarket? I felt as though I didn’t want to be in there when I entered and I felt vaguely irritated with the cashier, who was being the model employee … all smiles and telling me what to do with my card in the reader, as if I didn’t know.

The questions I wanted to ask could come from other members of my family but I have about as much chance of asking them as I have of asking Tim. I don’t know where he lives and I don’t know where the rest of the family are. I could always find out. It wouldn’t be too much work and it is possible.

The big question.

So What Stops Me?

Nervousness at meeting them after all this time, maybe? Fear of the differences in knowledge between us? The overwhelming memories that may come flooding back? The density of the interwoven threads of the fabrics of our lives? The conflict between wanting to be alone and wanting to belong?

I don’t know them. They’d be strangers to me. Or would they? Some of them may be dead. I don’t remember half their names.

I haven’t seen any of them for about 35 years! Not properly anyway. The last time I saw the majority of Mum’s family was at her funeral. That was 20 years ago now.

And then they were gone.