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1996 Reunion

With my father and brothers in 1996

Recently a new pathway of healing opened up to me: a “journey to brother love.”

My father married many times and had children from multiple wives—my siblings being the last. I grew up knowing about an older half-sister, but never met her. I didn’t know about a half-brother I had until 18 years ago when my father reunited with him after 52 years of separation.

I was in my early 30s, just starting my own family when my father called to tell me about my half-brother. It was an ‘Oprah’ type story of amazing coincidences that led to their reunion.

I felt like my world had been turned upside down.

My father invited me and another sibling to meet him. The half-brother lived across country and was making a trip to our area. I eagerly obliged, or maybe obeyed is a better word. This was in my pre-recovery days when I was still holding onto the past, carrying a lot of anger, and searching for my father’s love. Now I had to share that love with some long-lost family member.  My resentment must’ve leaked through in that one and only meeting.

My father remained in close contact with his new-found son over the years. They had several cross-country visits. I occasionally heard of their trips together. Each time I nursed my internal pangs: “But what about me?”

Since that time, I’ve spent many years of healing and recovery work to get to a place of forgiveness and love for my father. My dad even helped with some family history while I was working on the final draft of my story in Journeys to Mother Love. Unfortunately, he passed away a month before the book was released.

My half-brother couldn’t make it to our father’s memorial service. My stepmother (not his mother), ordered an autographed copy for me to send to my brother’s wife. I had experienced even more healing and forgiveness with my father wound with his passing. With that fresh perspective, I decided to send a letter to my brother, along with the book.

Here’s an excerpt from that letter: “I think each of his (my father’s) children carry a distinct Smith* mark in their DNA that we had to overcome as his children. And just because we had more physical time living with him, it doesn’t mean we didn’t carry familial scars. I say this to you in the hopes that you won’t let any of those feelings get in the way of continuing to stay connected with this family.”

Soon I received a nice note from his wife telling me how much she loved the book and that my story touched her as she grieved the recent loss of her mother. We continued our communications, but there was no direct response from my brother.

Then a few weeks ago I got a call from my stepmother that my half-brother and his wife were going to be in town. I was invited to come home for a visit. At first I declined due to an already full schedule. But thoughts of my brother and our disjointed family connection kept surfacing.

Did I need more healing or was it for my brother? I needed to know.

So I set aside my work and hopped on a train across the state.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post to find out how this Journey to Brother Love ends.

~ Ardis A. Nelson

*Surname changed to protect family privacy.