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Before it’s too late

After work today I went out for a coffee with my long-lost half-step-brother. He’s my mother’s second husband’s step-son from his first wife’s first marriage, which was annulled on the grounds of bigamy. (Still confused? See the illustration of my generation of the family tree vine.)

My half-step-brother’s name was Jeff back then, but he goes by David now. We last saw each other at a very drunken funeral about 17 years ago, and before that I hadn’t seen him since I was about 14 years old. So it was kind of interesting getting together and catching up on the last few decades over a coffee.

Jeff/David has taken on the role of family historian, at least for that wing of the family. Our family has more than the average number of wings. You could say we’re a bit wingy.

He’s acquired the domain name, the photographs, even his grandfather’s diaries and the first draft of his mother’s science fantasy novel. Most importantly, he’s acquired the urge to re-connect with family before it’s too late. This comes, I guess, from watching his mother’s descent into Alzheimer’s, and seeing her memories evaporate into thin air.

They put her into a home recently, and now David/Jeff is trying to gather up the elusive fragments of forgettable family facts and write them all down. Before it’s too late.

In terms of his own life, the most interesting thing he told me is that he found a baby fox near his cottage a couple of years ago. He didn’t try to tame it or turn it into a pet, but the fox followed him around, took food from his hand, and sat on his couch. The cottage is on an island, only several acres in size. Eventually the fox swam off the island, presumably in search of a female fox with whom to start a family.

There’s a lesson in there somewhere, but I don’t know what it is.

12 comments to Before it’s too late

  • Gillian

    Family history is very valuable and many of us wait too long.

  • Woodsy

    You are certain it was a fox and not a Coyote, right?

  • Deb

    Wow, I have 11 siblings of one sort or another.

  • future landfill

    Bless you Zoom, at our age we’re all in the same boat, in’it? Cousins and far-flungs we remember from back then, belonging to whozit we wuz connected with, and every so often one of ’em shows up and we’re no end pleased to catch up with, even tho’ it could be another 10 years (or never) before the next time around ,and one of us’ll be gone then and we’ll (they’ll) be telling half-true stories…

    what could be better than that?

  • That family tree and your description thereof are hilarious! This comment is not to imply that I have a more straightforward arbre de famille, however. It’s more a family vine than a tree.

  • XUP

    I think the lesson is: If you love something set it free, if it comes back it means it’s hungry and has forgotten how to forage for food on its own.

  • …or that it hasn’t learned to dogpaddle just yet….

  • You know you forgot someone too on the family vine! The worst thing is that I can’t remember her name! OWS’s daughter!

  • Mud mama – her name’s Lisa, I think. I’ve never met her. I’ll try to squeeze her into Version 17 of the diagram.

    As for the nature of David/Jeff’s creature, he said it was a fox. It’s possible, I suppose, that he mistook it for a fox and it was really a coyote. He even told me some little-known fox trivia, like male foxes don’t live in dens and the average lifespan of a male fox in the wild is only about two years.

    Can coyotes dog-paddle?

  • Deb

    There is a big difference in the appearance of a coyote and a fox…size is different, as is colour, and a coyote looks more like a wolf than a fox.

  • I have 3 Women I call Mom, and 4 Men I call Dad, and 4 Half Sibs.

    … I have a family shrub. It’s very confusing.

  • Zoom, I am glad I did not have a family vine like yours when I applied for a security clearance.