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1:10 am - 04.30.2012
Relatively Speaking

Relatively Speaking

Big news this week...

Really big news.

(For the people who follow me on Facebook, just act surprised, okay? - I'm trying to build this up for the people who don't already know what I'm about to say).

After a lifetime of being a singular entity in the world, on Tuesday I connected with Tony James.

My younger half-brother.

It all started late the week before...

I got on one of my periodic kicks where I Google my mother's name and home-town and such, and see what comes up.

I don't know what I was looking for, exactly - I already know where she lives, I know how old she is, and I knew (From our previous contact) that she wasn't interested in having a relationship with me - so I guess I was just checking to see if she was still alive.

Cause "Where there's life, there's hope", right?

Anyway, some links were clearly not the right person, and some just had no new information to offer (After I got that she still seemed to be alive, turned out I was looking for something more).

But a couple listings had her identifying info, and alongside it, names of people she might be related to.

I knew the name and birthdate of my oldest half-brother, Charles, and the last name of my younger half-brother (And his father's first name as well, which turned out to be helpful), and I ended up with two names that looked like "likely suspects".

I didn't have any other contact info on them at that point, I don't think, but I posted something on Facebook, and searched both names there (Sending a friend request to someone I quickly realized, after the fact, was the wrong guy).

Then Tim R., a friend from Lansing, messaged me, saying he had caught my status update, did some digging of his own, and had the names, addresses and phone #'s of the "likely suspects".

(I'm boring myself - "Come on, Jim! Get to the good stuff already...!")

So after a brief, "Should I call, or should I write?" debate, I drafted basically a "form letter", sticking to the basics of what I knew (And why I thought we might be related), altering each letter slightly, and ending with "If you want to contact me, here's my info...".

I think I sent them out in Thursday's mail.

I got a call from Tony on Tuesday, a call, amazingly, I let go to voicemail; guess I didn't think either of my "possible brothers" would call (On some level, I didn't expect to hear from them at all).

(A more pedestrian, less psychologically-fraught explanation is that I've fallen into the habit of letting cell calls go to voicemail when they come from numbers I don't recognize, since those are typically the kind of calls I'm not that interested in taking.)

It was pretty amazing when I listened to that message ("Jim, this is Tony James, your half-brother..."), so amazing I listened to it over and over, at least a half-dozen times, before finally calling him (Even then, I didn't call him right away. I think I understood that I was about to walk through a pretty big door, and it took me 10 or 15 minutes to screw up enough courage to "do the deed").

We talked that first time for about an hour.

It was interesting to hear what happened when he got my letter; he called our mother, asking, "Mom, how many babies did you have?", and when she asked why, he said, "Because I just got this letter from someone who says he's my half-brother...".

She confirmed that I was indeed his half-brother, but when he basically said, "Care to elaborate on this?", she said, "No, I don't want to talk about it" (More on that later...).

He told me he'd checked out my YouTube channel, and Facebook page, and thought we definitely had a similar sense-of-humor (He actually subscribed to my YouTube channel, but I didn't realize it was him - Misreading his channel name, I thought, "Who the hell is "Tru Bass?").

And I thought this was great fun - He watched Austin and Ally that Sunday (Which was my last episode of the season) with his two boys, Aaron and Trevor (8 and 12), telling them, "The pirate guy? He's your Uncle...".

He's been married for 18 or 19 years, I think, has the two kids, lives one town over from our mother, works in construction (If I'm remembering correctly, he's now a "concrete inspector"), and plays bass in his spare time.

A lot of the conversation was just us giving each other the "general outline" of our lives.

I didn't know I had three half-brothers till adulthood - I found out in a letter from my old social worker (When I first inquired about making contact with my mother) that my mother had four children altogether, all boys, with four different fathers - and Tony first found out about the two oldest ones when he was 13 years old, and "Kelly" (The second oldest) died in a car accident.

That's when he met "Chuck" - the oldest son - who is apparently a career criminal and general n'er-do-well, in and out of prison all his life (Tony told me, "I wouldn't tell you not to talk to him...but I wouldn't trust him").

So, since his previous experience with half-brothers has been somewhat lacking - to say the least! - I think I'm coming off pretty well in comparison.

We've had another, longer conversation since then, and chatted on Facebook a couple times.

My feeling? He's a really good guy, and we seem to be forging a quick connection (One thing that's been very gratifying - I've spent my whole life feeling like the "needy" one in any given relationship, but Tony has made a point of saying, more than once, how he's always been basically an "only child", and he's as excited by this development as I am).

And he told me that our mother called this past week, and spoke to his wife at some length about the situation; she wants to talk about it with him in more detail (At this writing, I don't know if that conversation has taken place yet or not).

That made me feel hopeful that the way will be paved for the two of us to reconnect at some point.

It's very hard to find words for all the feelings I've been feeling...

All my life, I've made up "origin stories" for myself (Actually, since I'm not a writer, just stealing them - sometimes "My rocket-ship crash-landed in the foothills of West Virginia...", while other times, "I was created in a laboratory from spare parts..."), because with no mother and no family, I didn't really feel human.

I was telling someone recently how I used to say, "I don't have a 'family line', I don't even have a 'family line segment'. There's just me - I'm just a 'point'"

Now, I'm a "Brother". I'm an "Uncle".

And maybe, some day, I'll be a "Son".

I'm related to other people.

Turns out I'm human after all...


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