Regardless of my feelings to the contrary and the fact that facebook sucks the life out of many people, and clutters up the inboxes of so many more. I will be forever indebted to a social media site for the following message that I received two years ago.
Facebook note from MBS (my baby sister)- Hey There! My name is….I’m looking for my sister…If you’re not her I apologize, but if you are please write back.
My response- If your birthday is in December, your parents names are … and …, and you have an older brother named …., then I am the one you’re looking for. I’m in Hawaii this week but live in Seattle. Am I the right one?
MBS- WOW! You have no idea how excited I am. I have been looking for you for going on seven years now.
My response- My email is…. Please write to me, I’d love to hear more from you!
That message and a series of messages and visits afterward started us on the revised path to sisterhood. A path that I’d abandoned so many years before.
You see when I moved from Florida in 2000, I didn’t speak to my father very much. We have that kind of relationship. I don’t claim to understand it. I never have. Here’s how it works (or doesn’t depending on your point of view). When I’m in town, dropping by every so often for dinner or to hang out everything’s peachy fine; we’re one big happy family. But it’s always been me making the effort to visit, me stopping in, me making the phone calls to set up the next happy occasion. With my father, our relationship always felt very one sided and only when I made an effort to stay in touch.
At some point in 2001, after calling repeatedly for more than a year and leaving multiple messages for a call back, I finally gave up. My sister would have been 16 around that time. When I stopped calling, stopped trying to have a relationship with the Campbell clan I wasn’t thinking clearly. I was reacting to what felt a lot like rejection. At first I told myself that maybe I had the wrong number, maybe the message got erased, maybe he moved to another city, maybe he simply forgot to call. I made a lot of excuses but regardless of how thick skulled I can be, eventually even I got the message. You see my father worked for AT&T for 30 years, the inner workings of a telephone will probably be the last thing he forgets, long after he’s forgotten his own name he will remember how the phone works. I thought that surely he could pick up the phone and call back. He never did.
Every spring when it rains non-stop in Washington I schedule my annual pilgrimage home to Florida to see my mom. She lives less than 30 miles from Dad now, in the house they bought together in 1975. Every year, for the past ten years, I drove through the town my father lived in, within a 5 minute drive to his house. Every year I thought about stopping. Every year my mom asked me if I wanted to visit my dad. I never did.
Of course in every family feud someone gets hurt. Since my dad was seemingly oblivious and I refused to allow my feelings any airtime, my little sister seems to have been our unintentional victim. For this oversight I could make excuses, say it wasn’t my fault, but whether intentional or not the damage to my relationship with her is irreparable. The opportunity to participate in some of the biggest events of her life are passed, and I missed it.
I missed watching her grow up.
Seeing her in her prom dress.
Seeing her get married.
Standing by her when she had each of her three beautiful children.
It’s been a little more than a month since we talked and I do not intend to miss anything….ever again.
So here we are two years later. I fly out to Hawaii for my honeymoon in a few weeks and we’re doing the no call thing all over again. But there is one major difference. I have facebook and my little sister and half of my family are on my friends list. This message will get through.
HEY YOU! I miss you. I love you. I know you’re busy, but….CALL YOUR SISTER! TODAY! THIS WEEKEND! YOU KNOW THE NUMBER!