By Janet Trull (Ancaster, ON)

A Tale of Two Childhoods:

My brother and I grew up in the same little clapboard house on a tree-lined street, but apparently we lived in two different dimensions.  I was happy.  He wasn't.  I had clean sheets on my bed every Monday, a hot meal on the table every evening, and piano lessons.  He was neglected.  Never got a hug.  Nobody noticed or supported his NHL potential.  After years of suffering, he married an American and moved to the States.  On a rare visit, his wife put her hand on my arm and expressed sincere condolences for my pathetic childhood.  It sounds like you pretty much raised yourselves, she said.

Maybe he felt left out because my mother had her hands full with our pain-in-the-ass brother who was both deaf and developmentally delayed, I said.  Or maybe he has not come to terms with the fact that our father used up a lot of energy climbing and descending the bi-polar ladder until the miracle of lithium saved his life.  

Compared to my friends, I was living the dream.  Many of them were orphans; Jane Eyre, David Copperfield and Anne Shirley to name a few.  They rose above poverty, abuse and humiliation to become good citizens.  They struggled with social injustice and emerged as kind and forgiving human beings in a world of inequity.

My brother?  He didn't read.

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