I’ve had a day to sort through my feelings now. To let the joy diffuse the sadness and give me a better perspective.

                 You see, as I sat by my father’s side at my uncle’s 90th birthday celebration yesterday, the echoes of the past stirred memories of places and happenstance both precious and searing to me.

                I found myself recalling the scorching summer days on Lake Terramuggus, where I learned to swim as a child and where I was reborn in the emerald depths at age 10… Reminded that I was never alone. An understanding that would soon  be tested on that fall morning in the marsh, as my tears fell into the turbid water and the creature tore into my flesh. It was the beginning of my education of all things evil and undeniable, that spanned the next 45 years.

                As my uncle’s voice washed over me yesterday, the memories triggered in rapid sequence and I found myself trying to recall his face during the happy times I spent on that lake with my family and cousins. It wasn’t hard. I had always been intrigued by him. He could be loving and cruel. A larger than life figure who commanded respect one moment, and in the next, a joking brawler who loved to drink and mix it up with the little ‘uns. He had always been a free spirit in that respect, and I suppose I inherited that part of his personality. Minus the drinking.

                 I remembered that he had blond curly hair. Muscular arms and legs. He wore a bathing suit like an athlete, and by late June, the summer sun had already left him tanned, not only because of the weekends at the lake, but because all the ‘guys’ worked the building sites shirtless in those days, once the weather warmed up. At least in my experience. Me included. When I wasn’t on the farm, that is…

                 Yesterday, I purposely sat my dad next to my uncle, where I knew they both belonged. Side by side, as brothers should be. I sat next to my dad, at the head table, while my brothers and the rest of the family occupied the other tables that had been pulled together for the occasion. There were probably 30 people at the celebration including a priest, who gave an invocation prayer just before we ate.

                    I kept my focus on my uncle and dad most of the party, purposely avoiding any eye contact with my brothers, who were seated at the other tables with their wives. It is a great sadness for me, especially at an event like this. You see, it was my intervention that reunited my dad and my uncle after 15 years of estrangement. I was a bit devious in my methods, but in the end, it all worked the way I had hoped, and both brothers have been close ever since.

                     Of course, there was nothing remotely similar in their estrangement, compared to the nonsense I’ve endured with my own brothers since I came out.

                   And that is what put a bittersweet edge on all of this for me yesterday… There were pictures taken of the brothers. Some included me, because I have always maintained contact with my uncle. I have none to post, unfortunately, because I didn’t take them, and I didn’t have the foresight to ask anyone to use my camera for a few…

                   So, there we were. Two brothers with their arms over each others’ shoulders and me standing directly in back, with my right hand on my uncle’s shoulder, my left hand on my dad’s.

                   The uniter. The peacemaker. Me.

                   Alone, as I have always been.