Summary: It's about find yourself, finding others and discovering that family is always family.
Why did it have to be that the thing reuniting you with family that you haven't seen or spoken to in years is the death of a family member? That was my twin brother, Eli on the phone, I can't remember how long since it was that I'd heard his voice or seen his face. But that long absence of company due to a fight all those years ago would soon change, when we bought our families together to celebrate the life of our father.
When I picked up the phone and held it to my ear the male voice on the other end asked to speak to me, it sounded shocked when I replied that it was Jaimison Fischer. He asked several questions relating to me, he said that it was the only number in his father's address book. I found it sad that not only did my brother not recognise my voice but more so I failed to recognise my brother's voice.
Being twins, growing up we were best friends. By the time we hit adolescence the identical act had stopped being cute and we both strived for individuality. Eli was a keen sportsman and suited his long lean body however I was the lanky and awkward academic. Dad was a single parent our mother having died during my birth. He raised us the best way he could raise two boys who had changed from being best friends to worst enemies as if over night.
The past made me reluctant to see my brother again but it wasn't right not to show up for my father's funeral just because I didn't want to see the man who shared the same birthday as me. So as I put down the phone I prepared myself to inform my wife that it was time for a little trip. Of course if she didn't want to come or take our 4 children I'll go by myself. But I doubted that would happen Caitlin loved her father-in-law and my children their grandfather.
As I told Caitlin the news I felt a sudden sadness as the reality of my father's death sunk in. Followed by a sudden overcoming of guilt, I had promised dad that I would take the family to see him for Christmas but I got snowed under at work and the twins got sick and we just didn't get around to going. The last words I said to my father were,
"I'm sorry Dad we just can't make it this year" And that was over two months ago. It wasn't usually so long between phone calls but as I said work was snowed under and the twins were sick. I felt bad, my father was old and sick yet I hadn't found the time in nearly a year to visit and spend time with him.
While my wife and I were talking about the death and up coming funeral of my father my eldest son, Daniel, or Shaq as I had called him since he was about 4 and I'd taught him to play basketball. Though I had never been a big fan of sport, basketball was one I loved. So when my 14year old son walked in with ball in hand and asked me if we could play, I couldn't say no. Shaq tossed me the ball before coming up behind me to push my wheel chair to the driveway outside our house.
Yes, I'm in a wheel chair, which was one reason I didn't want to see my brother, last time he saw me I was still trying to fit into my 6'4" frame. Eli didn't know about the car accident that had taken the life of our eldest child and caused my paralysed state just over 5 years ago. Caitlin had called him several times but only received his voice mail and when she finally left a message to call her immediately, he never responded.
My family and I have been through a lot, the death of our daughter Hailey, the constant illness of our twin boys, and my obvious paralysis but that hasn't stopped me playing ball with my son while my three younger children usually watched from near by. Shaq was good at Basketball, actually he good at all sports, he was head of the state in his age for Cross Country and Swimming, second in Australia for both and was on the state team for Rugby, National team for Basketball and had recently taken up Rock Climbing.
Our twin boys, Joey and Xavier, were like my brother and I, identical. At 8 they were only a couple of years away from the identical act no longer being cute, and boy, were they hammering it up. They easily and seem to swap identities so much even Caitlin and myself have trouble telling who's who. Though when they were behaving they were great kids, they managed to charm everyone they met especially the nurses at the children's hospital they regularly visited.
TJ was our youngest child, only 6 years old and just a tiny guy. So tiny that most the time he seemed to be over looked, Caitlin and I are ashamed to admit that more than once we've raced out of the house and realised we've left little TJ behind. The fact that our Tyler James is one of the quietest 6 year olds I've ever met (and with 5 children I've met a few) doesn't help one bit. With the attention that Shaq gets for his athleticism and the Twins get for their health it was quite easy for TJ to slip under the radar. But I always made sure I spend some one on one time with my little man.
They were our four beautiful children who we were blessed to still have with us. Hailey however was our special angel, who had she not had been killed in that horrible car accident would have turned 18 a month or so after the death of my father. Hailey was beautiful, model material, she'd already had a small role in a local TV Show aimed at Teenagers. In fact I was driving her home from a modelling shoot the night of the car accident, and the agency had the balls to ask if they could still use her pictures.
My wife and I choose to raise our children in a Christian environment. This stems from Caitlin's childhood, where she was raised in that environment. My father had no time for God and he believed that God had no time for us, though we were open to our own beliefs. But can you blame my father? The women he loved most in the entire world is taken from him and he is left to raise twin boys? So my faith stems from Caitlin's love and passion. We have a rule in our family that until the age of 13 you are required to attend church, after 13 you could stay at home. Shaq enjoys church but uses his age to an advantage when he is tired or has too much to school work to do or he wants to do something with his friends. My wife and I understand that and we belief we cannot shove religion down our children's throats.
None of our 5 brilliant and beautiful children had met their Uncle and though my wife had spoken to him a total of once on the phone she too had never met him in person. Not that she actually had the chance, we had asked him to attend our wedding yet as well as offering airfare and accommodation but we never received an RSVP. For the first couple of years of our marriage we kept inviting Eli to the big events in our life offering both airfare and accommodation but we either received no reply or a rude decline. In the end we just gave up trying, it was such a hard decision to make but Eli had make it clear that at that time he wanted nothing to do with us. Now 18 years after we stopped trying to have contact with my brother he contacts us. Though the contact stemmed from the death of my father but as it goes, stop looking for something and eventually it will find you.
The last time I saw my brother was 22 years ago when we were just 18, we'd been at each others throats for the last 5 years, but he had joined the RAAF and was heading down to Sydney for training and I felt compelled to say goodbye. Ok technically my father compelled me to say goodbye. When I last talked to my father he informed me that Eli was only a couple of days removed from returning home from the Middle East. And according to Eli himself his leave was cut short when he was send to Bananda Aceh to assist with Tsunami Recovery. He'd been there until he received a letter from his eldest daughter informing him that our father had gotten really bad and asked if he could come home. He managed to arrange leave; he was due for a break having been in Bananda Aceh for over a month, and went to see our father. Eli spent a day with him before he passed away the morning Eli rang, he informed me that our father kept telling him to call me.
Playing basketball with Shaq reminded me of when my dad taught Eli and I to play, it was always two on one, Eli and I against Dad. When we were younger we always won but I think dad let us, after all he had played for the Brisbane Bullets before we were born. Basketball was always a big deal in our family, it bought us together.
While I was playing with Shaq my wife had rung and organised the first flight home so that we could attend my father's funeral. We were leaving two days later… By the end of the week I would once again be in the company of my twin brother.
A/N: So… Whatcha think? Yep Going to work on Angel Salvation now… For those who keep bugging me! But there will be more to this story (A chapter of this, a chapter of AS etc.)