Aunt Ruth at 104
Men Don't Ask

My Brother Bill

When I met my half-sister Florence for the first time seventeen years ago, she told me that her brother (my half-brother) Bill had recently died. I was still getting used to the fact that my father never told us that she existed, so I didn’t give much thought to the brother I would never meet. Until Tuesday.

Florence recently moved to an assisted-living facility in Boston from New York because, at age ninety-nine, she no longer wanted to live independently and she wanted to be closer to her daughter Amy.

Last Tuesday, I visited her in her new home. Although Florence and I had been together several times, I had never been to her “home.” Her new apartment is small, and she had to part with many of her cherished possessions. What she didn’t leave behind, however, was a large collection of family pictures. She was eager to show me what she looked like as a young nurse (beautiful), as a young mother (happy) and especially, she wanted me to see photos of her handsome husband who died before I met her.

When I asked, “Who’s that?” about a picture of a nice-looking middle-aged man, she said, “Oh that’s my brother Bill.” For several minutes, I stared at that picture of my father’s child, speechless, and feeling a roller coaster of emotions similar to those I felt when I found out about Florence.

Once again, I wished that I could have a chance to ask my father…

“Why?”  

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