Do you all have that one person that is just “easy” for you? A person that no matter what, you can just hang around with, or by, and it’s comfortable with little to no effort?
For me that person is my little brother Chad. There is something about our relationship that is so comforting to me. One day we may see each other only in passing. The next, we may have an animated conversation in the kitchen lasting for some time. He get’s me like few other people do….and yet at other times, I think he doesn’t get me at all. But regardless, it’s almost always an easy relationship.
Don’t get me wrong, my other siblings are amazing. Each have a role and a special place in our family.
Randy is the oldest and he is our quiet and stoic patriarch.
Lonny is our fierce protector.
Roxy is our “mini-me mother”, the worrier and the creative one.
Dawn maintains the calm and is the peace keeper.
And Ally, she is our passionate pistol with a slightly hot-head and at times, no filter. She will tell you like it is (although no one at our work believes me when I say that!).
(Me, I’m probably a little mix of all of this, depending on how much Xanax I’ve had…….or not had 😉
But Chad…..he is my dad…..and that right there is why I gravitate towards him so easily. When my dad was still here, my relationship with him was the same, easy. When I was little, I could sit with him in the car on the way to the farm and we never had to say a word. It was just nice to have the quiet of the country road, and an easy peace between us. When he was ill, we would drive back and forth between Rochester and Marshall together often, and there was never a need for words. Again, it was the quiet of the drive and the knowledge that we could just be lost in our own thoughts, while taking comfort in being near each other. That is how it is with Chad. We can drive for hours in a car and not have the need to talk, or we can chat for a few miles and then fall back into an easy quiet.
Chad is quiet and strong. A man of few words, with a deep love for his family. He has dad’s soft blue eyes and his warm smile. He has his quiet humor and he laughs so much like him (that it makes my heart hurt at times). I remember when we would all be together and something struck my dad funny, he would start out laughing softly, and then he couldn’t help it and could no longer control it, and his laugh would get more robust; and his laugh, my dad’s laugh, would always make me smile. Chad does that same thing. Almost every time, it catches my heart just a little and I always remember dad when Chad is laughing…..
Dad (with us when we were little)
Chad (with Madi)
Chad can be a bit ‘moody and broody’, as my dad could be (we are Anderson’s after all, it is simply in the genes). He can also be a bit frustrating, especially when I ask him to do something and he says he will do it “soon” (yes, again we are Anderson’s, and so procrastination is also in the genes). I have waited many times for a couple of days to get the basement vacuumed (usually Chad’s job)….. Then the next time, he’s all over a task. A few weekends ago I simply said, “we need to wash the garage floor and organize this soon” and suddenly (that same day) we were hanging storage bins from rafters and buying and assembling shelves, and the garage was instantly transformed. That was also dad, if it caught him in the right mood, it got done now.
Chad is handsome and humble. He has a nice way of being self assured and assertive. He can get his point across and strike a deal like a car salesman, if it motivates him. And yet, there is a quiet vulnerability to Chad. His is sensitive and soft, and when he is hurt, he carries it deeply, often with a light scar. All of that is also dad.
But mostly, it is the reassurance that I feel with Chad. I know that no matter what, he has my back. The same as my sister’s (who by the way are the very first people I call when I am freaking about anything from a broken nail to a nervous breakdown ;-), the same as Randy and Lonny. Any one of us will be there for the other (we may slap each other straight, but no one else can touch us).
Usually I am the one to be the strength in tough situations and unsure times but right now, Chad is that for me. Bruce is sick and I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, and that gives me pause in a way that I have never known before. Not even when we divorced did I feel quite this vulnerable. When we divorced I was sure that Bruce was still around and helpful with the boys. The idea that one day he could maybe not be, terrifies me just a little. It weighs heavy on me as well that Darek will always need our help, and truly that help at this point falls to me. Bruce’s plate is overflowing. There are times I am just overwhelmed myself and on those days, Chad seems to sense it. He will engage with Darek more and try to interest him in getting on the computer and playing a game or whatever. Or he will grab Darek and they will head out for a few errands. He is ever watchful, telling me if he thinks Darek seems off. He does all this while still maintaining a relationship with Darek that somehow borders both “watchful big brother (they are just a few years apart) and supportive uncle”. That intuition also reminds me of my dad.
Chad moved in a couple of years ago with the goal to go back to school. I am glad that he is here, especially now as we move forward into these uncharted waters. I know that our neighbors must scratch their heads most days. In addition to all of us that live in our house, my sister Ally and her family (and lulu their dog) are in and out. My brother Lonny and his fiancee Sara are also around many weekends. And of course, Dari is in and out as well, and there is a healthy smattering of the kids friends in and out also. I always joke that my house is like Vegas, it has 24/7 action……but it’s awesome!
I think of what our days would be like without Chad being here with his kids, Madi and Nolan, and it feels empty. They bring a life into this home that is so necessary right now. Last night Bruce would’ve stayed in his room to eat, he was tired but I said we were having Nolan’s birthday cake and singing happy birthday to him……he came right up. There was a time, before the divorce that Bruce would’ve maybe been irritated by all of this but we both learned a few things after the divorce. I learned that Bruce needs to be informed and respected before bombarding him with my family, but he also learned exactly how much my family means to him. He said not long ago that he loves the place that he and Chad are at right now, it’s also an easy relationship for Bruce. And that was always how he described his relationship with my dad, easy.
Life is funny how it comes full circle. Sometimes it takes extraordinary situations and experiences to remind us of the important things in life, like family, support and love. I have always said that we grew up in a dysfunctional situation, although I think many people can say that, but through that dysfunction, we learned to be loyal and to love each other in a way that I don’t often hear other people experience with their siblings. We had to have learned that from our parents, which is such a great gift from them. My siblings are a such a blessing to me.