At my grandparent's kitchen table looking at photos in the 1980s.

It is just after five in the morning as I sit with my coffee on the patio in the rear of my house. I am sitting on the creaky wooden bench I got from my mother's house after she died. I am enjoying that special silence that comes this early or late depending on the hours you keep. My mind is out there in the stars of the western sky and I ask them what I did wrong. My tendency is to always blame myself when something is wrong, even though I did nothing to cause these circumstances just like I had no role in putting those stars in the sky.

I did not outgrow my family. I spent much of my life around family until I was thirty-one years old. It was when my mother died when I was thirty-one that I realized how little affection for me there was on my mother's side of the family. I thought that all those years together, having coffee, talking around the table, the reunions, frequent family gatherings meant something, but I over estimated my position. It was my mother that everyone had the affection for and I was tagging along at her request, but I also enjoyed those times around family nonetheless.

In the shadow of my mother 1995.

I was tolerated, not accepted. It was in the 2010s when I was invited to a Thanksgiving dinner at an aunt's house that I realized I was wrong about what my family thought about my life. Though I had a long term partner my aunt explicitly made it clear that I was the only one invited and that he was not. I was not seen as the boy that they knew as a child and gave nicknames, I was an aberrant identity to them now. So much so that this aunt said the world was going to end soon because I finally had the right to marry and be treated equally. These were the people I looked the most like and shared a blood line, but somehow I was inferior.

I went to two of these Thanksgiving dinners alone so that I could see my family. I subjugated my pride and self respect just to see them. None of them were asked to check their self worth at the door, except me. I was glad to see my family for a steep price. I held my quiet indignity tight so that I could hear their voices and see their faces again.

Family are people that know us in ways that others cannot. They knew us when we were unguarded children getting grass stains in hand-me-down jeans or what we were like before we succumbed to roles of adulthood later in life. They remember when you were tired of the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at summer lunches. They may remember our differences, but they are supposed to be better at overlooking and forgiving them. They are family and they are what ties us back to our beginnings like eternal shoestrings and to our family history.


Those shoestrings have come untied for me and them.

Silence has settled in for the past eleven years between my mother's side of the family and me. There was no fight, no disagreement, nothing – it was a disconnect as if I no longer existed. I have not heard from them, received a phone call or Christmas card. I hear things about them, sometimes, but that is all. I know some of them have read my books and none of them reached out to me to discuss any of the revelations in them, though some of them knew part of what happened at the time. I went as far as protecting some of them and their feelings by not writing about them or leaving out details that might hurt them. I tried to be as considerate as I could and write as much truth as possible; that is not an easy line to walk when the truth is painful.

The silence nags at me. I would reach out to them, but I expect to be ignored or worse rejected. The stars are bright white dots in the sky and I am red Mars in the corner. I search for reasons and find none. I am an easy person to find on the internet, there is this website with my email that I have had since the beginning of Gmail, I am on Facebook and I have had the same phone number for well over a decade. 


Me in my home office in 2023.

I believe my mother would be disappointed at how I have been treated by her/our family. I have their photos on my walls and I can assume they have none of me on their walls. That name I share meant as much to me as the name that I wear. That name is impossible to hide and is obvious as looking at me.