Grown Up, Grown Apart
by Kathy Watson
My sibling is a creature who carries half of me around inside him. No one on the planet is made more of me, and I of him, than my brother, Aaron.
And though we look alike — our arms just a fraction longer than our sleeves, our calves too thin for our long legs, our prominent noses — we radically separate at that point like molecules in a pot of boiling water.
He's a Republican; I'm a Democrat. He's a southerner from the low country of Alabama. I'm a westerner from the Cascade Mountains of Oregon.
He's a buttoned-down, cock-sure, All-American church pastor and daddy of four, with a brilliant, beautiful wife and a 21-year marriage. I'm a two-time divorcee with two daughters in college, a far more liberal faith, a dog and a dirty pair of boots under my desk, and a wonderful husband in the next room who has finally rescued me from myself.
Yet with all our differences, something holds us together. He preaches at the pulpit and I see myself, a handsome balding man. He raises his arms in prayer and I see my father, dead since we were both small children. And yet something is missing.
How can a brother and sister with so much shared history and genetics seem so far apart? As children and adults, we have rarely sought each other out, or called each other first — or at all — to share joys or sorrows.
I wanted to know if my brother thought there was a chance that now, in our 40s, we might find a way toward each other. So I called him the other day at his church office, and we talked.
Kathy Watson: What's your first memory of me?
Aaron Fruh: Oh man, I need to think about these things.
K: Do you remember that December — you were 3 — when Dad died? I remember being angry at you for playing with a toy you got at Christmas and telling you, "You can't play with that! Your dad is dead!" Do you remember that?
A: No, no. No. I remember the night it happened, skating across the floor in slippers, and Grandpa put his hand on my shoulder and told me to stop. And Grandma and Mom screaming. I don't remember anything until waking up a year later, and the train ride to Mississippi.
But the first thing I can remember about you, there was a closet, and a vase in the top, and it fell down, and we tried to tell Mom there was an earthquake and that's why it fell.