It’s that time of year when I look forward to hearing from friends and family that I often don’t have much opportunity to talk to or see throughout the year. And while I’m not always the most reliable when it comes to sending out Christmas cards and letters of my own, I appreciate the diligence of so many who keep the tradition going.
Yesterday, I pulled out an unexpected envelope from our stack of mail. The writing on the envelope was clearly my brother’s. His return address listed a town in South Florida, and my address was incomplete–just my last name, misspelled street address, and incorrect zip. I’m surprised the envelope found its way into my mailbox.
Inside, I found a Christmas card signed “Merry Xmas, Cowboy.” Odd. Cheeky. Typical.
My parents received a card as well, with the sentiment “happy, healthy, and homeless” and Joe’s yellowed birth certificate tucked inside.
There’s little doubt in my mind that my brother is mentally ill. Whatever the cause–a genetic glitch, drug abuse, the stroke he suffered when visiting me more than two years ago–his situation, and what it’s done to my family, makes me sad.
I wonder if he knows that the last year has been rough. Mom in the hospital and then the nursing home. Dad undergoing emergency surgery. All of us experiencing our share of challenges and losses, but doing our best to keep ourselves, and each other, moving forward.