Every Saturday afternoon, starting somewhere between one and two, you will find me sitting on my living room sofa, red-faced and stressed out. I’m talking to my brother, Allan. We talk for a couple of hours, once a week, about all sorts of things that we don’t have an opportunity to discuss with anyone else. We are both readers, so of course we talk books constantly. Allan is ten years my senior, and was in graduate school when I was a young teenager, so he influenced my taste in books, music, and history greatly. Now, he is still a reader, and I am a librarian, so I’m also recommending books to him. We can also agree completely, and at great length, that civilization as we know it is crumbling before our eyes and everyone would be much better off if they modeled themselves after us.
After that, things get sketchy. He is a liberal and I am a conservative. I am a Christian and he is agnostic, tending more toward atheism as he gets older. He is convinced that all evil comes from corporations and greedy rich people, and I am more likely to think that “we have met the enemy, and it is us.” He lives in the north, and I live in the South. (Yes, only the South gets capitalized.) So, as you can imagine, our discussions of current events can get lively. But I wouldn’t miss our conversations for the world. It is so difficult in life to find someone with whom you can be completely honest, even when you know that they’ll disagree with you and be just as honest right back. Of course, we have lots of nice, pleasant conversations, too, especially about family and memories and things like that. There are also times when he will insist on telling me about the Mets, during which times I say “uh-huh” at what seem like appropriate intervals.
The greatest thing, though, is at the end of the phone call, no matter what was said, I know we’ll always end with: “Talk to you next week.” “Okay. I love you.” “I love you, too.” And that, Charlie Brown, is what family is all about.