Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Brothers Phillips

I have three older brothers. One of them, the Golden Child, and I share the same mom. The older two and I share the same dad. Their names are Mike and Mark (last name Phillips).

Mike and Mark lived with their mom growing up, but they did visit quite regularly during my childhood. After graduation, they went into the military. We saw them less often then, but they did still come home. Mark even lived at my parents' house for several months with his fiance when he was stationed here in Maine. After being discharged, Mike became a police officer in Rolla, MO and Mark moved to Florida/Puerto Rico with his wife.

While in MO, Mike got married and had a son, Zachary. He brought his wife and child home once when I was in high school. I think Zach was about two. I was fifteen or sixteen. Shortly after returning to MO, Mike and Gala decided to divorce.

I haven't heard from Mike since.

My parents haven't either. For almost ten years Mike has been MIA - I haven't gotten a phone call or an email, and I definitely haven't seen him. I know that he has been to Maine more than once, and at least one of those times be brought Zachary with him. When he is in Maine, he doesn't talk to anyone related to Daddy's side of the family. It's like we don't exist for him.

Mark divorced his wife, too, and for a few years we didn't hear from him, either. Then one day he showed up at my parents' house and apologized for his behavior. He was back in Maine working as a prison guard, and wanted to re-establish his connection with the paternal side of his family. He was welcomed back with open arms. He may have taken some ribbing, but anything that had gone before was water under the bridge. He is family, and family sticks together. Last year Mark moved to Arizona to become a Border Patrol Agent. He still makes time for Daddy and me whenever he comes home.

Until now. Last Wednesday I got an email from Mark telling me that he was flying home due to a death on his mom's side of his family. As soon as I got the message, I texted him to say, "I got your message. Hope everything is okay. Let me know if you want to get together." I didn't call because I didn't want to interrupt anything serious his family may be going through.

Then last night I logged onto myspace really quickly to check my messages before bed, and discovered pictures of Mark out partying with his best friend Alec, Mike, and a woman that looks like Mike's new wife. He didn't call me, text me, email me... nothing. But there were their faces, flushed with a good time, home in Maine without a worry.

If I were in the same state as one of my brothers, there is nowhere I wouldn't go to see them. I would drive for hours and hours to see them because I don't get to see them often enough. I haven't seen Mike in almost a decade. So I started to wonder - did thye exclude me on purpose? Does Mark only want to hang out with me when Mike isn't around? What is Mike's issue with hanging out with me? I never did anything to him! But the more I thought about it, the more I think about it, the more I begin to think that maybe they weren't thinking about me at all. It wasn't so much that they were trying to exclude me, but that I didn't enter into their consciousness at all.

Honestly, I don't know which is worse.

When I first saw the pictures, I was angry. I understand that this wasn't a social visit, but I wasn't asking for them to take me out to dinner... I was asking for a phone call, maybe an invitation to the bar that they were at Saturday night. After my anger wore off, I was just hurt. I still am hurt. I know from their history that this is the way they operate, but Mark, at least, I expected more from. I was raised that family comes first. I guess it has taken until now to see that their definition of family doesn't always include me.



Sue Flaska said...

The definition of family doesn't always include blood, but sometimes friendships that are stronger than family. Hang on to those friends. The non-toxic ones, that is.

Shari said...

So sorry. I kept wondering if there was a falling-out with your dad, but didn't see that in your post. I wonder if he is ashamed or hiding? Maybe the longer time goes by, the harder it is with Mike to contact you and your dad's side. As for Mark, I don't know.

Well, you know who your true friends are, I guess, like Sue says.