Sisters

I was born and raised in a home at the address of 1014 N. Evergreen Street, Burbank, CA.

With my two sisters.

Today it went up for sale.

Of course any house can be sold to anyone with the necessary funds, though the memories will always be owned by those of us who resided within it.

There were many wonderful memories of 1014 to be sure, far too many to count, yet certainly many memories that were far from idyllic. In fact, I wish I could put some of those memories on the multiple listing service as well, as, one might say, I enjoyed the safe haven and reprieve of functional family enclaves…amidst a vast sea of dysfunction throughout my childhood.

Those memories would be nice to sell with no contingencies.

I never had any doubt for a second that both my mother and father loved me very deeply. Yet as every child eventually figures out, parents are just regular kids who had some fun and together created a younger kid. Not a lot of skill needed. They are not trained professionals, nor necessarily adequate at the job of parenting. Raising children is an occupation that all must learn on the fly- you learn the art of parenting as you go.

We all start as novices. You just go with the best you can with what you know. We may need an official license for constructing pools or building houses, yet nothing required for building human beings. And, I get it, that would be weird, not to mention highly impractical.

My dad was a good dad yet far from a perfect one, a novice to be sure. Though to understand any person one must understand the novices from which they came.

By all accounts, my father’s father (my grandfather) was an abusive, mean, angry, tyrannical bastard who did horrible things to his family, or so I have been told –I never met the man myself. How horrible was he? Legend has it that, so horrible, my grandmother and her family fled across the country, from Buffalo, New York to Southern California- as far as one could go in any one country- to escape the horrors of this supposed monster.

To illustrate, apparently he died in the mid-1960’s and his grown children literally threw a party to celebrate his passing. I would say that is fairly credible evidence of horrible. My entire life I have not heard one redeeming word about this man.

So, when I can recount a handful of my horrible childhood memories, and dozens of wonderful ones, I do so acknowledging the history my father endured from his childhood and the nightmare he had to live day in and day out. We all feel sorry for the man with no shoes until we meet the man with no feet…I may be shoeless though my father had no feet. I could only imagine the failing novice of my father’s grandfather. Oh shit, no legs?

I can recall on a couple of occasions when me and my two older sisters, Marybeth and Julie, only a few years apart, youngest to oldest, would watch as the only stability we had on a drunken Friday evening, my mother, would uncharacteristically imbibe and become part of the problem as she and my dad fought to the verge of physical aggression.

I distinctly recall me and my sisters huddling in a darkened corner of the room hugging each other and crying, having no idea what was going to happen next as we heard the screams and crashes in the other room. We were scared little children who only knew we had each other, all nearly preschoolers, to depend on and have any confidence in.

At these times, we had no one but each other, as our parents were busy bowing to the gods of alcohol and the immature outbursts of aggression.

Thankfully these episodes were very few and, somewhat, far between – and would be followed the next day with grand remorse by both parents.

Why do I write of such dysfunction? I do not write this to solicit pity or elicit sympathy. Hell no. I know many people who had it far worse than I as their childhood makes mine look like the Brady Bunch on steroidal whole milk and extra sweetened cookies. I’m now an old ass man who has done just fine with his life. I write this because this helpless and fearful feeling is now coming back to me…granted in a more stable and refined kind of way.

My rarely imbibed mom passed away October 18, 2017, and my dad is still hanging in there as he clings to life at a 24-hour healthcare hospice facility in Northridge, California.

Me and my sisters, Marybeth and Julie, are once again huddled in the corner as we, together, navigate the unfamiliar waters of caring for and losing parents.

We, fortunately, all have wonderful and loving support structures- solid partners, friends and children. We are not alone by any stretch. Yet there is something that all the support structures in the world cannot provide what we siblings can provide each other: the history we share of knowing what it feels like to be scared, terrified in fact, and without parental protection…and now never doubting we are there for each other.

We, through meetings, phone calls and text messages, are huddling and crying in the corner once again. Not as many tears this time around and not a literal huddle, though we can look into each other’s eyes and detect that all too familiar gleam of childhood vulnerability once again. Regardless of age, some vulnerabilities are just really hard to shake.

Sibling relationships can be very complicated. My sisters and I have had some very difficult and elongated rough patches over the years. Very rough in fact.

Though nothing as rough as knowing we children are closely becoming the only ones left of our nuclear family.

Eventually, it will be just each one of us alone. We all die alone. I’ve never heard of a casket built for two.

I was born and raised in a home at the address of 1014 N. Evergreen Street, Burbank, CA.

With my two sisters.

Today it went up for sale.

(images are of 1014)

 

jimmysintension

5 Comments

  1. Nice to have siblings that you can count on. You took me down my own memory lane and am grateful to have had my sister and brother by my side through out the years. Makes life a little bit easier knowing your not alone. Some things I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have them. Probably curled up in a ball under the covers wanting to deal with life at all. Gotta say I’m truly Grateful I have them.

    • You are an inspiration Patricia…with all you have been through I am sure your sibling support has been very much needed. It was great seeing you the other day!

  2. To be quite honest, when I was reading this the first time, I just kind of scanned it, not really taking in what the words all meant together. But I have this two times now and I cried. Not because it’s sad or heavy, because anyone can cry when they watch a sad Nicholas Sparks film, but people often react genuinely to something sad when they themselves have gone through something similar and they can relate what they are watching or reading to a specific moment in their own life. I cried because reading this, took me back to various moments in my life and all I can remember having was my sister. She (being seven years older than me) often fell into a parental/protector role in my life because our parents were rarely around. Always working or not enough time to just sit down at the dinner table with everyone there and actually have a family dinner together. I never put it together then but when we were 5 and 13 she would always be watching food network because she didn’t know how to cook and that’s how she learned. Both our parents worked very long hours, both having jobs that something could happen there it would keep away from us even longer then they already were. So she would make us dinner and something breakfast the following morning. Thankfully the fridge was always fully stocked so that we didn’t have to just order pizza or something. And it was like that for a very long time. She would drop me off at school early because she would have to turn around and go the opposite direction for school herself.
    She has been the only constant in my life. People don’t get why and how much I love my sister. And they never will because only my sister and I have that shared life experience and that’s what creates that bond.

    • Thank you for the contribution Catherine. It sounds like you and your sister have remained consistently close…I believe the age difference really helps as it lessens sibling rivalry. My relationship with my sisters has been very rocky over the years….ironically making this time in my life all the more special.

  3. What a wonderful thing to have siblings isn’t it. I’m blessed to have one and that is my brother that I adore very much. This blog post makes me be grateful for those around me so thank you for making me feel a little more generous to those around me Mr. Urbanovich.

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