The Christmas piece of this prompt never really applied to me. Yes, we put out cookies and milk for Santa and got a gift on Christmas morning. And, yes, I was told when I questioned if he was “real,” that only kids who believe got gifts from him. But, it was always more of an embodiment of the magic of Christmas rather than a person so it never felt deceitful to me.
I’m not a good liar. Keeping secrets? Sure. Manipulating things to my own way? Definitely. Bluffing? Yup. Distraction to avoid answering? You bet. But, to tell an outright lie, just isn’t my thing. I will tell someone that I won’t answer long before I will ever lie.
I was about 10 when a cousin maliciously told me that my brother wasn’t my “real” brother. We were there for my grandfather’s funeral and I was so confused. My mother was livid when I asked what that meant and she put me off until we got home to tell me what was meant.
My mom married at 19, had my brother at 20, another boy at 22 and then left her husband about 2 years later. She had stayed through his drinking and cheating, but then he hit her. She would never take a chance that he would hit one of the boys so she left with the clothes on their backs.
She spent the next several years working ridiculous hours and jobs, putting up with the disappointment from her father for embarrassing the family, and getting nothing from her ex in the way of money. She built a life for the three of them and eventually he divorced her so he could move on. He never once saw the boys.
Then, she met my father. Not only did he love my mother, but he wanted to be a father to the boys. After they got engaged, he even blackmailed their father that they would sue for all of the back child support or he could let my father adopt them. Again, never caring to see them, he signed over rights and the adoption process started as soon as they married.
Unfortunately the younger boy died in a car accident two weeks after they were married and he didn’t get a chance to adopt him. But, my brother was adopted. They were a “real” family. My father never saw him as anything but his son. And this is the story that my mom told me after we were home.
Snake’s mom suffered from lupus for most of her life. I never knew her any other way. She was diagnosed when she was pregnant with him but really had no symptoms for the first 18 years of his life. About the time we started dating, her health declined.
There were years of hospital and rehab facilities. Severe osteoporosis from the steroids. Having to use a cane, walker and scooter depending on the symptoms. But, she didn’t want anyone to know she was “sick.”
Snake and his brother worried for several years without knowing what was wrong. Once, we did know, we told her that she had the absolute right not to tell anyone, but we would not put our kids through that fear of the unknown if we were asked. They asked and we explained lupus and that she wasn’t contagious and that this was part of her life. I think they grew up with empathy because they experienced both her lows and her highs. And she never let them forget how strong she was or how much she loved them.
Both cases are lies of omission. Would I have done things differently? Probably.
My brother had a lot of anger issues that fueled his drinking and I’m sure not being able to talk about what had happened as a child did not help that. We were 11 years apart so I’m not sure it affected the relationship that much anyway because we had nothing in common. But, honestly, before and after the big reveal? He was always my “real” brother. Biology doesn’t make a family and there was always love in our house.
Snake’s mom was an incredibly extroverted and social person. Her inability to reach out and be honest ended up isolating her. She didn’t want to go out when she could that often. She worked for quite a while but figured out how to do it from a perpetual sitting position so no one could see any problems. But, once she couldn’t do it anymore, she ended up at home. His father was there but she didn’t have friends to come visit. It made me sad that she created a scenario that made her lonely.
But–while I might have made different choices, the truths were theirs to share. And, honestly? This blog and our private life are our truth. We choose to share or not depending on the circumstances and the people. And I don’t feel guilty not including people who would not add to the joy that we get from sharing thoughts and images here.