By Peter C. Bonsey
On Jan. 29. 2018, my older brother was buried. In the last year I have lost both brothers to cancer. This is significant because it has caused me to reflect on our sibling rivalry. I’m not sure that existed between us but something did. At a very young age I became aware, falsely or not, that I was different to them both. So strong was this belief that I joined the Navy for five years. Then I emigrated to Australia and in then 1977 came to America.
Throughout these experiences I frequently returned to England to visit. I don’t know if it was my youthful bravado or arrogance. After all “I” had been around the world many times while “they” stayed in the tiny country village. I was well rounded, or so I thought. For many years, my wife and I visited England, experiencing fleeting moments with either or both of my brothers and their families. They were always too busy to give us much time. I felt that I was intruding. They were just living their own lives, as I was mine.
For many years my wife and I invited both brothers and their children to visit with us here in America. It was many years before any of them did. It was only my older brother's daughter, Jess, that ever came.
Then we were invited to Jess’s wedding. Between the invitation and the wedding my mother passed away from cancer. I was only able to go to the funeral in England alone. Jess took frequent opportunities to give me a hug, touch my shoulder in passing to comfort me, which it really did. Her sensitivity was so strongly conveyed in these wordless warm actions.
At the wedding reception, Jess hugged my wife and said to her, “I know this is supposed to be my day but you both being here is the cherry on the top of my cake.” Wow! Such a wonderful sentiment. It endeared me further.
Since that experience, Robert, my older brother, has visited us here with his wife a number of times. The connection Robert and I had all along was started to reveal itself. Today I remember him with great fondness and deeply regret the almost 50 years that dropped away with us being disconnected. No matter what the reason or cause, I did nothing about it.
Now here I am facing a great sadness that I feel the need to reach out to others who have siblings. Sibling rivalry is a wedge that we allow to drive us apart. It is a force that we conveniently find a way to rationalize, and often blame the other side. Death is final and cannot be reversed. Time takes away things away that are not possible to regain. Our parents give us brothers and or sisters who are different from us as they should be. That is not enough reason to shun or ignore each other.
I urge those of you lucky enough to have siblings take a moment to look at them and see them – really see them – because they have only been loaned to you. When they are gone, if you are honest with yourself, you will see that you contributed to the issues that divide you. Reach out and be thankful to your parents for giving you siblings. Do whatever self soul searching is necessary to not suffer the loss I feel today. Love thy brother, or sister, unconditionally.
Peter C. Bonsey of Synder regrets not reaching out more to his brothers.