Our parents are gone, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have a place to go home to.
October 3, 2005 our father found our mother collapsed on the living room couch. She was 63 years young and her heart stopped. 21 months and 1 day after that our father went into the hospital for a routine procedure. He was to have a stent put in to alleviate some blockage from his arteries. The next day, July 5, 2007, his heart collapsed and he died. Needless to say this wasn’t my favorite 2 years. If you’ve lost a parent, you know what it’s like to be a part of the club where no one wants to be a member.
Our parents left behind 4 boys. We’re all 5 or 6 years apart in age and we all have our own set of life experiences. 5 years ago, our oldest brother called a family meeting for just the brothers. Johnny, Teddy, that’s me, Charlie, and Billy. That’s how roll call went, descending order beginning with the eldest. John wanted to start family traditions. We no longer had parents and while our extended family celebrates holidays and hosts get-togethers over Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, birthdays and the like, John recommended we begin traditions of our own.
We all thought it was a great idea, but what would we do? I live in Malibu while the rest of them reside in New York City. I travel home for the holidays and maybe one other time during the year, but that’s always busy seeing family and friends. We would need to create a separate event or weekend that was just the four boys. Some quality time and brotherly bonding was in order.
We came up with the idea of doing an annual brothers weekend. No matter what, once a year, we would leave our girlfriends, wives, and families, choose a location and spend a couple of days together. It didn’t need to be extravagant, just something simple. Traveling outside the city for a couple of days, to do a whole lot of nothing. A couple of weeks ago we did just that.
We’re all grown men, fairly fit and adventurous, so we planned a mountain biking weekend about 50 miles outside of New York City. The weather turned bad and they closed the park. I began to feel anticipation about having some pretty serious heart to heart conversations now that we’d be forced to stay inside due to storms. But that’s what the weekend was supposed to be about, right? Sharing among brothers, among men. Thankfully none of us subscribe to the machismo egotistical bull that some men believe and we can participate in open hearted sharing. We do all love each other despite our differences. We grabbed a couple of board games and rented a house for the weekend.
Just driving out of the city and stopping for breakfast I could already feel the camaraderie of the old days. The boys… back together again! Since we couldn’t mountain bike, we wound up crashing a country club and playing tennis, none of us are regular tennis players, so it was more like watching the Bad News Bears then Wimbledon. We later went for a hike on the ski slopes, played Taboo, hiked some more and went for a great zip lining tour the next day. Simple good fun where no one is beating up on each other, we’re sharing stories about our individual lives and getting reacquainted as grown men.
On our final day we decided to share some goals. 3-5 things from our personal health, to our career, to relationships and family, or whatever we wanted to share. The purpose was to make sure we’re all aware of each other’s path, direction and desires. This presents the opportunity to support each other until next year’s weekend and to keep tabs on each other throughout the year.
If I didn’t mention prior, one of my brother’s is a bit emotional. Anytime we talk about family, love, our parents, etc. he’s guaranteed to shed a tear. We all love him for it. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone to wear their heart on their sleeve as well as he does. As the sharing began, it continued to get deeper and deeper. Tears where shed, laughter exchanged and some good honest heart opening. I’ll spare you the specifics, but we’re much closer because of it and even though our parents are gone, we’ve created the opportunity to continue to come home. Home for us might be that same rented house in the country side of New Jersey or it might be somewhere else. What the four of us know, is truly, that home is where the heart is. I’m lucky to call those three men my brothers and I look forward to our next annual event and the ones in 20, 30 and hopefully 60 years from now!
Photo Credit: TeddyMcDonald.com