I am working on my workshop powerpoint yesterday morning, and it’s really coming together by the way, when I receive an email. Now, I know you are not supposed to stop what you are doing and check your email every time one comes in. Efficient people check their mail at set times, deal with them and ignore them until the next designated mail check rolls around.
I check my email all the time. It is a habit from my teaching days when I would receive emails all day long from other teachers and parents that about half the time had to be dealt with quickly. If this is not efficient, it has never severely impeded me from getting work done either.
The email was from my brother, CB, and, of course, he was in trouble. I don’t hear from him unless he is in trouble and he is afraid to ask Mom for help. I am his go-between. His enabler if you will. He knows that if all else fails, I will at least send him a care package and ten or twenty dollars. Mostly, I don’t fail. I have always been able to convince our parents to pity him and help out.
He is 42 now. Hardly a “baby brother” anymore and while I would like to be on an equal adult footing with him, it’s so hard to achieve that balance when I get SOS emails and directions to phone him at this or that friend’s pad.
Today’s sad story involved my XSIL and an alleged broken nose (his) and a van with its engine scattered around the garage of an old girlfriend’s. There was the usual blame shifting – his car insurance company withdrew more than it was supposed to for the monthly payment – and he expressed his usual bewilderment at how he could still be living out of his car and on the generousity of friends at such an advanced age. The latter is the only thing that surprises me. My mother, sisters, myself and his daughters are really the only people compelled to love him; the rest have options.
CB has never been in step with the world. He drank from a young age and never outgrew the need to use alcohol to alter his reality like most people do. He mated up early with someone who was not good for him but, for reasons I certainly can’t understand, can’t see that. He thought he was too smart to need an education and was too lazy to go back for it when he realized he’d made a mistake. He was drawn to wild schemes and dreams that were too off the grid to ever truly work or required more work than he was willing to put into it.
I saw CB in so many of my students which made working with those kinds of kids easy for me, but I don’t think I had any more impact on them than I have ever had on my brother. Some people will never believe that it is they who are wrong and the world – with all its rules and customs – that is right.
I called Mom for CB. She called him. He was a bit of a jerk to her, but she figures a few hundred dollars is a small price to pay to keep him half-way across the country for a while longer.