I have been asked to play in the pit for a local production of the Tony award-winning musical “Fun Home”. Some of you might know what it is about. What I can tell at this point is, it’s about a woman coming to terms with the death (possible suicide) of her closeted gay father, and she herself is gay.
It is a deep musical and I am looking forward to being a part of the production. But I also feel that the Universe (of God) is pushing me to confront my own family, the issues between us, and maybe find a resolution so I myself can move on. Neither me nor my father are gay, and the true issue I think is with my brother who was nearly 11 years older than me, and like a 3rd parent.
In my youth I idolized him. When I got older all there was between us was silence, or anger. All I wanted from him was a normal conversation. I’d hear him talking to others, why couldn’t he talk to me. Well . . . . . . . . .
There was also silence between my brother and our father. Our father was what our mother called a true excentric meaning he hadn’t a clue how excentric he was. It wasn’t put on, it was real. My father and I could talk to each other, but he and my brother could not. I am not sure why.
I was blessed to be the last kid living, and that I was the one to care for out father, for I’m not sure my brother could have managed. What amazed me most about my father post my brother and mother’s death, was how much he was in touch, how much he knew, how much he saw. His head wasn’t quite so far in the clouds as we had thought. What my brother hated, I think, was that our father talked to me, but not him, at least that is how it seemed to me. BUT an outsider who lived a short time with us saw it the other way round, that our father didn’t talk to his son. Who knows the truth?? In any case, there was pain in that silence.
One thing I can be sure of, both my brother and father (poets, published, succesful to a point) had soft hearts. My father protected his by, in a way, not being there – living in his books, in his world and coming out into the “real” fake world only when he had to. My brother protected himself by creating an outward appearance that filtered out the scum of the world. Those who dared found a man who was not what he looked like at all.
I am not sure I am right about this, but as I got older I felt more and more pushed away from the family, like I wasn’t welcome, and only by my brother, this brother whom I had adored when I was young, who taught me to throw a ball (real throw, not a “girlie” throw, who had me read ‘a narrow fellow in the grass’, who encouraged me when I was very young not to accept limitations, he didn’t seem to want me around anymore.
After finishing my 2nd masters, this one in the field of Ethnomusicology and in Ireland, my plan was to go to Chicago, or Boston, or elsewhere, and make my way. But, my brother died unexpectedly, of an undiagnosed brain aneurism about 3 months before I finished the masters. He was almost 48. I finished the degree, and then I knew I had to go home and care for the mother and father left, and a young son of my brother whom I was close to. I did my best but I never felt I could fill my brother’s shoes.
My mother died of BOOP, a lung disease that creates a never ending pneumonia about a year and a half after her son. She was just 77. My nephew grew up, moved out of the house at 18, and we still talk, though we are not as close as we once were.
My father died six and a half years after my mother had died, 9 years after his son had died. He was 84 to the day, he died on his birthday. We had cenebrated with friends at a resteraunt the night before. He seemed okay, but in the middle of the night he wasn’t. He died in the hospital hours later, c 7:30AM. It was actually a good way to go.
I am left now in this world to confront, what, their life and my own? There are things I truly hate about this world, all the wars, all the pain and sorrow, all the unresolved aspects of life. BUT there are things I love as well. The morning glories that grow in the alley way near my home. teaching, visiting with old friends and just talking, talking the way I wish my brother and I could have talked. Sigh…….
So I strive to remember positive things about my brother, whom always seemed like that 3rd parent, and the one I could not connect with. (I think that is in a way what Fun Home is about, connecting, or not, and wanting so much to connect). Things like he trusted me with his son. I would take my nephew and brother out. we’d drop my brother off in some wooded area, and then go into the mall and buy a toy, have some food, and then pick up “dad”, heh, me nephew’s dad.
One time my nephew and I found the complete works of Shakespeare at 75% or so off. We bought the book and left it in the back, unwrapped, for “dad” (brother) to find. It was fantastic, the excited “what IS this? OH!!” I should mention two things. 1. My car has always been a mess so the book wasn’t just sitting on a clean seat, it really did have to be found, and 2. Shakespeare is almost a holy name in my home.
It’s moments like that I try to nurture, remember, revel in, and grow.
More later very likely
Moira Levant © August 25 2018
The above is a poem my brother managed to get published, sometime after 1994 because he mentions his 2 children. I found it on the internet and copied it and just hope there is no problem with that. It speaks of our father.