By Michael B. Wright
On social media, I occasionally see the status: “In a Relationship”. To me, this is a deliberately vague statement that could mean different things. It may mean that the significant other is immature and unwilling to make a commitment. It could mean that they are of the same sex and are not quite ready to let the world know. The word “relationship” itself is vague and can have multiple meanings. Many people have a relationship with the personage of whomever or whatever they define as their Creator. Some have a relationship with their home, their car, their pets or their television sets (especially during Super Bowl Sunday). Many define success by wealth, position, power, influence or status. I base success upon one’s ability to develop and maintain good relationships with other people. There are as many different kinds of such relationships as there are different kinds of love: agape, storge, philia, eros, pragma, philautia, ludus. The Greek word “storge” indicates a close familial love, i.e. family relationships.
My wife and I are nanny and manny to two brothers, a 5-year-old and a 9-year old. A few months ago, they were bickering. “Poppa, he’s pointing at me! Make him stop!” I instantly flashed back to me and my brother, Richard, as kids, doing the same exact thing. I recalled the two of us playing on a blanket in the back yard one day. Rich started crying loudly after he’d cut himself on the edge of a round Mason jar seal. Our Mom rushed out, lifted me up by one arm, and hit me as I yelled: “I didn’t do anything!” In reflection, I realized that my normal behavior must have warranted such a response from her.
Rich and I spent many years apart when I went into the Navy and when he moved to Arizona to be Mom’s caregiver during her final years. We really bonded when my wife and I flew out to visit for a week or so.
After the boys’ pointing episode, I contacted Rich saying that I wanted to apologize. “Did I pick on you a lot when we were kids?” “Mike, I hated you growing up!”
Now, we live roughly an hour apart. With differing schedules and responsibilities, we strive to get together periodically for a “Guy Day”, leaving our wives at home while getting together to play catch-up, reminisce, laugh and encourage each other. The beer’s not bad either. Although he’s four years my junior, I have the highest degree of respect for my “little” brother and I value our relationship.