I figure I see the posts today on Facebook about the fact that it’s National Sibling Day – so why not make a post about my own siblings and honor them? I mean, I have this soapbox and all, right? And maybe I owe them for all the times that I was a jerk of a big brother, right? Right?!
Well, first of all – before I get into how cool my siblings are and how much I love them – I need to reflect a little on what it meant to be a sibling in my own particular family. I am the oldest of all my siblings. I was born in 1981, and then – when I was three years old, my first sibling was born. Garrisen, or as we all came to call him for short – Gary. Then, a couple years later came my next sibling – my sister Monika. After that was Chadwick (Chad for short) and then Alexander (Alex for short). On top of that, we also sort of “adopted” into our ranks another brother Richie, who was the original son of one of our stepfathers (which was Alex’s real father – I’ll get into all this later).
We all grew up mostly in Lewiston, Maine – with the exception of Alex and Richie, who grew up mostly in New Hampshire. My own biological father either left or was cast out (hard to tell what really happened, let alone if he’s my actual father) which left me to think for a long time that I shared a father with Gary, Monika, and Chad. Later on, my mother divorced their father and then married a new guy – the father of Alex and Richie. Make any sense? Technically, all my siblings are half-brothers/half-sister to me aside from Richie who would be my stepbrother by marriage…but none of that mattered much to any of us, as far as I can tell. We were just brothers and sister. We grew up poor, we grew up under some harsh circumstances and trying times, and we came out relatively okay. No matter what we all went through, none of us ever seemed to fight so bad that we hated one another. To this day, most of us still stay in touch and hang out on a regular basis. We are all adults now, the youngest of my siblings having just recently turned twenty one years old with the coming of January. I couldn’t be more proud of my siblings, of where they’ve gone and what they’ve come through. Starting with the next oldest of my siblings and working my way down, I will write up a brief little snippet on what they mean to me and why I’m proud of them.
MY BROTHER GARY
Gary has literally been with me for the longest period of time due to the fact he was born so recently after I was. When we were young, we used to share a room with one another due to being the only two boys for a while – and at one point, we even shared an entire apartment when I was ten and he was around seven years old (that’s a long story). I remember one time when we had the same pajamas we would sneak to the fridge and steal chocolates, taking turns so that it wasn’t clear to my mother exactly which one of us she should be yelling at. I think for the most part, being young boys and growing up together, we did just fine getting along.
Gary was born with a few developmental problems which caused him to have to have speech therapy at a young age and gave him severe anxiety at certain times now that he’s older, even more so than me and most of my other siblings (save for Chad). However, Gary was never helpless. Despite his issues, he always found a way. He was constantly picked on, but never let that slow him down from making friends with people – unlike me, for example, who turned inward and became an introvert for a long while. Gary was always finding ways to make money and be industrious, despite not being able to work in a traditional 9-5 setting. He was always shoveling someone’s driveway or mowing lawns or helping old ladies with grocery bags. Due to some problems he was going through in his teens, Gary was booted from the house when he was sixteen and still managed to overcome even that, finding resources for shelter and income. If i’d been placed in similar circumstances, I probably might still be homeless even now.
But Gary is not homeless. He has an apartment (a much bigger one than I do), a girlfriend, and is in the lives of his nephews and nieces even more than I am, as the “big brother”. Whenever I walk around Lewiston with Gary, everyone seems to know who he is. Gary was dealt a raw hand, but has overcome many of his obstacles and is fighting through other ones. I am so proud of my brother Garrisen, of who he is and what he’s been fighting for. I love you, bro.
With that, here are a couple of photos of Gary – in the same vein as my Friend Files interviews, before I move on to my sister Monika.
MY SISTER MONIKA
Monika is the only sister I have (unless somewhere out there I have sisters that my biological father spawned in his new life without me). So, with her – it could have gone a lot differently than it did. I mean, I’m sure it was super-hard for her to grow up in a household full of disgusting boys/brothers but she had dolls and other terrible obsessions that we boys just couldn’t wrap our heads around. But my brother Gary and I pretty much tormented her when she arrived on the scene (seriously, you should hear the stories). She survived, and I know it was good for all of us boys to have my sister’s perspective on things as we grew older. I really think it helped round out all of us. When Monika was younger, she and I would conspire to steal cake frosting from the pantry we had downstairs at one place we lived (Stealing sweets was a theme I shared with most of my siblings). Later on, when I was a teenager, my mother would let her stay up later than my other siblings to help watch my youngest brother Alex, and she and I would watch movies, and Nick At Nite reruns of I Love Lucy, or Beavis & Butt-Head.
Monika, I think, has always been the most responsible and the smartest of all of us. She became a mother at a young age, but that didn’t slow her down a bit. Now, she has three beautiful children (Kristen, Joey, and Sophia)- with Kristen being autistic – and Monika has not only kept her autistic daughter happy and healthy, she’s also kept her feeling normal and loved and has been the best parent I could’ve imagined her to be. She always puts her kids first, and I’m so proud of what she has come through to reach the point she’s at today. She has a decent job, a house, and a good relationship with a great guy she recently became engaged to. I am so happy for her little family. Despite the occasional relapse of not hanging out for a while due to our own lives getting in the way, my sister has been there consistently for not only me (during my separation and divorce) but also for my other siblings and family members. She truly is one of the lynch-pins of our family right now, constantly hosting holidays and other events at her home. I love you, sis!
With that, here are a couple relevant photos of my little sis:
MY BROTHER CHAD
Chad, out of all us kids, had the most problems I think. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and other mental issues including the severe anxiety and depression that plagues my entire family. Out of all my siblings, he’s the one I tried to help the most while we were growing up. However, sometime back in 2008 Chad moved out of Maine with his then girlfriend, Amanda Michelle Heffner – and we haven’t seen him since. I wrote a post about him, which you can read HERE. If you happen to have any information on his whereabouts, last seen in North Carolina – please don’t hesitate to send along any information.
I used to try to involve Chad in games like Dungeons & Dragons. I introduced him to the Elder Scrolls games, and we used to pretend-fight with fake swords. Chad was a lover of all things fantasy, and even tried to create potions in his room. He was one of the nicest kids around, but when you made him angry it was hard to get him on your good side again for a long time. One of the last times I was alone with him and we hung out, we took a drive in my car and had a nice long talk. At the time, he was having girl troubles, and I really felt like he appreciated the time with me as much as I did with him. I miss Chad, and would give anything to just speak with him and ask him how he’s doing. He is one of our siblings that we all had a hand in letting down, and I hope that the rest of my siblings and I can rectify that someday. Hopefully you’re okay out there, brother. I love you!
Here are a few relevant photos of Chad:
MY BROTHER RICHIE
Richie is very elusive, and has a set routine he likes to do every day. This is typically why I do not see him that often anymore. However, Richie has a lot of potential and is super-funny and smart and I wish we did hang out more often. When Richie showed up on the scene, I was kind of jealous of him a little bit. His father, Richard, had been the most stable father-figure in our lives at that point and I could tell how much Richard loved his son. It didn’t mean he didn’t love us, but there I was with a biological father who left me and then a stepfather after that who turned out to be kind of a jerk and left as well. It turns out that I was kind of a jerk around that time, too, and Richie has told me in the past that I was a jerk to him, especially. I’ve apologized for that since then, but it doesn’t mean I’m not sorry about it still.
Richie has had a lot of turmoil in his life as well, having been through a divorce with his parents and then a separation between my mom and his father. He spent a lot of time growing up in Florida, and according to him – went through a lot there as well. Richie and I share the same interest in video games and movies, and it’s always good to see him. Love you, bro!
And with that, here are a couple more relevant photos of Richie:
MY BROTHER ALEX
Alex is the youngest of us, and in a way missed a lot of the craziness the rest of the siblings had to endure. However, enough craziness happened in his life that he knows what it tastes like. Alex was always fun to hang out with when he was little. We often played video games together, or watched movies, or I brought him places. Having a little brother when I was in high school and college was super-fun for me and I hope it was fun for him as well. Alex got into some trouble growing up, but he turned himself around and now that he’s older he constantly works and is even working at a store I used to work at when I was close to his age. It’s been fun seeing him grow into his own skin and become a responsible adult, and I look forward to seeing what else he does with himself as he moves forward in life.
Alex has a nice apartment now with a very cool girlfriend and has a son (meaning I’m the uncle of another nephew besides my sister’s son). He’s a great guy and a good dad, and I hope to see that grow even more as he ages. I’m proud of you, little brother. I love you!
With that, here are a couple of photos relevant to Alex:
So – I know this was a long post, but I have a lot of siblings! On National Sibling Day I hope you do your own part to reflect on your own siblings and what they mean to you, and perhaps – if you don’t have any siblings yourself, maybe those friends or family of yours whom you see as siblings or interact with them as such.
I love my siblings. We’ve walked through the fire together. We’ve experienced joy, sadness, fear, excitement, loss, celebration and everything in between together. I am glad that I have these people as my siblings and I wouldn’t trade them for anyone else in the world. Thank you Gary, Monika, Richie, Chad, and Alex for making me a better person and for giving me such wonderful nieces, nephews, and memories. SO PROUD OF YOU ALL!