THE TREE KEEPER

MY BROTHER

His name is Brett Evan.  I won’t list his last name now, but when he was born, it was De Mont, like mine.

I sometimes wondered about that: what his new name was, what he looked like, what his personality would be like?  I sometimes wondered where that little baby boy was, that my mother had given up for adoption so long ago?

We kids always knew about him.  We just never knew him.

US

Do you watch television?  I don’t watch much anymore.  I find the programming too in your face offensive, gratuitously mean, and unnecessarily sad.  I know personally how hard the folks in television work to please the audience, but in my day, shows were shooting for  clean humor, smart story lines, and entertaining mysteries the whole family could watch together.   My twins are sixteen, but nowadays, I still block half the stuff in the lineup.  Its insulting.

Back then, at least they tried to honor the audience intelligence.   Now, so much of what makes the airwaves, is about shame.

There is one show that I look forward to watching, and it just began a new season last sunday:

“Who Do You Think You Are?” on TLC.

Each hour highlights a celebrity exploring his/her family tree.  According to TV Guide:  In each episode, a star takes a globe-spanning journey of self-discovery to uncover the mysteries of his or her ancestral history.  Their familial stories in turn shed light on events in American and world history.   

I find every trek fascinating!

The premiere on March 5th profiled News Anchor Julie Chen.

That strong, independent woman, began her search believing she knew who she was, and from whom she had descended, but instead, Ms. Chen came out of her journey with a steady stream of enlightened tears of discovery, understanding and acknowledgment; a fuller understanding of who her ancestors were, why they made the choices they did, and how their lives impacted her life–which is vital I think, because we are all connected, and those connections matter.

I’ve spent much of my life longing for the individual members of my biological nuclear family, holding onto the bits and pieces I knew to be true; preserving them forever, as precious treasures.  I had no illusions, or delusions, about who they were.  

I knew about them, both the good and the bad.

In the end, I think that was beneficial.  We need to understand where we came from, in order to better understand where we want to go.

From the ages of 9-13,  I lived in an LDS foster home.  I was taught by the church members that our lineage is to be researched, documented, learned from.  Valued.

In fact, I was given a Book of Remembrance when I was about ten, that I still possess today.   Inside the burgundy covers, I pasted Primary awards, old photographs, a letter from my foster mother, and one page was dedicated entirely to a genealogical layout, I myself filled in, with the names and birth dates of my family members.

All of my siblings, whether I actually met them or not, were listed on that page.  I was proud, possessive even, of my biological family.

I must admit though, I’m a bit sketchy on the exact dates of my younger siblings births; I was only physically around when the two oldest boys were born.  For the birth of all the others?  I was dropped here or there, to live with a relative or friend (or just someone who said yes for a month-or six), every time mama found herself pregnant and ready to deliver another baby.  I only learned of the “new baby’s” existence, after the fact.

I’ve written some about my parents, grandparents and some about my kids too.  Tonight, I thought I’d share a bit about those siblings.

I’m the oldest of seven.  Three girls and four boys.  I knew all of them at one point or another, but one.  The middle child.  He came after three of us were already here, and then three more came after him.

Confused yet?  Ha!

Here’s the run down :

Renee Lynn   49                                                                                                                           Sean Lewis  48                                                                                                                                                 Timothy Mark  46                                                                                                                      Travis Kent  45                                                                                                              Kasha   42  or 43                                                                                                                    Tanya Lee  (deceased)  40 this May                                                                Christopher Jason  37 or 38

Mama did tell me when I was a little girl, we had another brother.   He came when I was about four and half years old.  Mama’s fourth baby in four years!  Daddy had skipped out once again, leaving her stranded in Orange County.  Having ran home to her mother up in San Luis Obispo twice before (for the birth of Sean and Tim), she felt reaching out to her sister, Edna Lee, was the only option.  Nena (that’s what we called her) took her in (and me and Sean and Timmy too)to live with her and my cousin Kendra.

Nena said all she remembers of that time was Dick had disappeared. “Your mother couldn’t care for the three kids she already had, and the new baby had to go. ” It was that matter of fact.

“When her water broke, I drove Susie to the hospital.  I left her there and went back to take care of you kids.  I did see your mother sign the release papers…she called and said the baby had been born.  When I went back to pick her up, he was gone.”

I asked my mother once, “Did he look like us?”

Her dark lashes left a shadow under her hazel eyes as she glanced down.  “I never saw him.  The nurse said it was better that way.”  She swallowed hard.  I wrapped my arms around her waist.

My mother’s pain ran deep.

She named him Travis Kent.  Born on March 16, 1970.

I was told he was delivered in a hospital somewhere in Santa Barbara.  Nena said she lived in Lompoc then, but could’t remember what hospital they ended up at.  She figured probably a county hospital, as they were required to accept patients without insurance.

We didn’t know his birthday though till ancestry.com told us.

I thought about looking for our brother after that.  So did Jason, especially with the invention of the internet.  I stopped short though.

We are a lot to manage, even to those of us who grew up together.  For someone who has never met our big brood, we might be seen as an armed S.W.A.T. team descending on an unarmed innocent.   Scary.

But you should know, we are all good people.

I’m not in touch with my other siblings, but I remember how they reacted when I found Jason and Tanya. They were excited, and wanted to be part of their lives, which they thought was wonderful.  Not everyone reacts the same though.  Brett may want to hear the stories of our first act,  but may not want to appear as a player in our second.

And that’s okay.

From what I can tell his mother was a nurse, and his father was in the service.  They appear to still be married.  Lived in Lompoc and moved up to Alaska after Brett was adopted.  He has a sister who is married with two kids of her own.   He loves fishing, football and frosted mini wheats!  Fun!  I was struck by how much he looks like our father.  He is a morph of all three of our brothers: Sean’s hands, Tim’s hairline, and Jason’s shape face.  I was surprised to see, he is the only one of us with our mother’s hazel eyes.  She would have liked that.

Amazing what a glance at someone’s Facebook wall will tell a person.  I looked twice.  I won’t look again, unless he responds to Jason’s inquiry.  The only reason I felt it was okay to look at all was I saw for myself he had registered on an adoption site.  My friend Michelle said, “If he left a clue…”  I’m so glad she wrote that.  I wholeheartedly agree!

When I posted on Facebook a couple of nights ago that Jason had found me through my blog, my friend Linda commented so very poignantly, “Maybe that’s why you started writing your blog?”

My written account of this shocking life of mine, began mostly as a cathartic exercise to purge this pain I’ve been carrying around for forty years.  Folks seemed to be interested right off the bat, and I was heartily encouraged to continue with the storytelling.  That led to Onedropofgrace.com.  Been thinking about Jason since I’ve been writing.  Maybe that was my clue for Jason?  And Jason led to Brett.

We are all connected.  For a reason.  It won’t change who you were,  but learning the stories of the folks you are linked to genetically, will certainly change who you will become.  The folks who embraced you, loved you, made you their cub, those folks are your real family.  We are your biological family.  We could become part of your life, or not.  It’s up to you.  And on our end, its up to each one of us too, individually.

Like Ms. Chen, and every other celebrity on that tv show, and like every other person I know who has jumped with glee as they discover a new connection; as one more branch sprouts on their family tree, you will simply become more of who you already are.

And isn’t it nice when the trees are fuller?

If you are reading this Brett, I’m sure you have surmised by now, I’m the tree keeper in our family.  I’m your big sister.  If you want me to be.  My stories are your stories.  All you have to do is ask.                               No strings attached.  <3

 

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “THE TREE KEEPER”

  1. You are a treasure! Your filled with the most generous gentle heart. I know with love comes pain. You are a superhero in my eyes cause you still extend the offer of love where there is possibility of pain. You have the courage of a great big lion. I consider myself lucky to have you as a cousin, to have you as a sister would be devine. But we can be sisters of the heart. Love you!

  2. Beautiful. Just beautiful. You ARE the tree keeper and I love that analogy. Your beautiful soul pours out the words on paper with such grace. There is so much more than ONE drop of grace, pouring out of you. LOVE YOU!

  3. I can’t wait to see where this goes! I love your grace, Renee. As much as you want to know him, you have such respect for his privacy and that he might not be ready for all that comes with revealing himself to all of you. I pray that God guides his heart!

  4. I LOVE this post! What an incredible journey for you and your brother. I know there’s a master plan in the universe, and the way you and Brett found each other again is proof of that. Keep writing!

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