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10:22 PM - Sun 1.17.16
Family Ties (PT III)

Family Ties (PT III)

(Watched the second episode of Shameless an hour or two ago. Was very disappointed - I did something on the day that they took some amount of time with, which seemed fun, and when I saw it just now, it was nothing, which made me think, "Why did I bother trying to get anyone to see this...?". Worse still for my ego, the "nothing" I'm talking about was manipulated by the sound design to make me/"Kermit" sound worse than when we shot it - they made it so I was out-of-sync with the track. But anyway...)

I've been writing a lot about Chuck and Tony and all that business, which is understandable, but that means I've been giving another brother short-shrift.

But first, my therapist gets confused when I talk about this stuff, and Jane Z. has sought clarification as well, so here goes - In chronological order, the siblings are:

1. Chuck, the oldest (57), a half-brother on my mother's side ("Probably" a half-brother, because while he doesn't know who his father is, so we could have the same father, I don't think we look much alike, at least from the pictures I've seen so far).

2. Craig (aka "Poor Dead Kelly"), who was born a year or so after Chuck, and died at 17. Likely my only full brother (We looked a great deal alike, from the one picture I have of him).

3. Me (54)

4. Tony (47), a half-brother on my mother's side.

5. Gregg (46), a half-brother on my father's side.

With Mom's propensity to keep secrets, and Dad's propensity to create - then wreck - families, there could be other siblings "out there" (Gregg's pretty sure there's a "Tim Hoffmaster", who would be the youngest - It's something Gregg's "heard through the grapevine" - but he seems to have no interest in connecting with anyone). But that's the cast of "Brothers" to date.

As I've connected with the various "halfs", in each case we've quickly dispensed with the "half" distinction and just called ourselves "brothers" (Clearly wanting to emphasize the "connection" between us over the "other-ness").

(There's also now nieces, nephews, and..."great-nieces"? "grand-nephews"? But that's for another time...)

I've known Gregg for years. I don't even know how long it's been now - he contacted me through here originally, because of our common last name - but I only knew we were actually half-brothers when Mom fessed up that Griggs Hoffmaster was actually my father (And not some phantom, "very nice, much older man"), when I finally met her.

We've spoken on the phone any number of times over the years, talking about needing to actually meet at some point, and have had a pretty mellow relationship all-in-all - Gregg's generally a more low-key character than Tony or me, not as "political" (Though his politics align more with Tony's than with mine), and accordingly, we've had generally pleasant, low-key conversations, with not a lot of "fireworks".

When he received his cancer diagnosis, I didn't know how to feel, or what my "place" was - What's the position, in this scenario, of the brother-who's-only-been-a-brother-for-four-years-and-lives-thousands-of-miles-away when his brother is faced with a cancer diagnosis?

I wasn't sure.

So we just kept talking. I asked questions, expressed concern, and occasionally cracked wise, because that's all I knew to do.

And we finally had the meeting we'd been saying we had to have "sometime", and it was very nice. I liked him and his wife a great deal, and they seemed to like me, and "a good time was had by all", as they say.

It seemed as if things were working out (I came back to LA and he started his chemo, and we kept in touch)...till I mucked everything up.

Gregg doesn't post nearly as much on FB as me and Tony do, but he posted something awhile back that I had a big issue with.

And instead of just thinking, "Well, I don't agree with that at all...!" and going on with my life, I had to share my displeasure with him.

As you might imagine (Particularly if you followed the early trials and travails of me and Tony), it didn't go well.

We ended up arguing on the phone, he hung up on me, I unfriended him on Facebook, etc and so forth.

(Seemed my brother Gregg was not quite as "mellow" a fellow as I'd thought...!)

I have no interest in re-litigating the matter here. The point is that I was a dick, and for a time at least, was prepared to have one less brother, all because of temper and ego.

But happily, early in the fracas, in what I thought was a conciliatory gesture, I'd sent him a friend request (That he was initially not terribly interested in acting upon, which made me then go "Well, fuck you too, Buddy!").

So when I saw him show back up in my Facebook feed, with a status that he'd gone into the hospital with a fever, only to discover that he was actually "cancer-free" (The fever was from a common cold), I was so happy for him, and relieved, that I quickly sent him a very apologetic message, and we were back in the "brother business".

If you're wondering, "Jim, didn't you feel really guilty, fighting with your brother while he had cancer?". the answer is "Some...but not as much as you might imagine".

But I did think "Jim, you're gonna feel pretty awful if he doesn't make it through this - of if he does, then you start 'circling the drain' - and this never gets fixed".

He's "cancer-free", but he still needs to finish out his chemo, and maybe log a little time in a bubble (His immune system is so debilitated, after all, that a cold necessitated a hospital stay).

But at the moment, he's okay.

And I'm okay.

And we're okay.

(And now that I've written all this, I think "I've gotta give him a call tomorrow...")


Barring unforeseen circumstances, the next big "family thing" that's happening is that I'm having a "group call" with Chuck's kids on Wednesday, "kids" who range in age from Ashley (31) to Chas (24).

I think it'll be interesting, hearing things from their perspective (And telling them my saga), and I'm really looking forward to it.

In short, this "family stuff"? I don't really understand how it works - particularly in this somewhat unusual set-of-circumstances - but I'm working on it.

I don't know "what I have to offer". I don't know "what I'm hoping to get" from all this.

But if nothing else, I think it's going to make this last part of my life a lot more interesting...


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