no matter how hard a person tries – and I have to admit that I don’t always try hard enough – someone’s feelings are going to get hurt.

it was brought to my attention that I haven’t really mentioned my brother ben and his family here in my blog. I assure y’all that this is purely unintentional, if you’ve paid attention, you’ll notice that most of my posts are about my young’uns and things going on in my house. these are the things on my mind, so they’re easier to put in blog form.

my brother ben lives in ohio with his wife anne and their twin girls kimmie and anna. they come stay with us every july. I look forward to their visit each year, mainly to see my girls, but also ben and anne.

ben and I have an odd relationship, I reckon you could say. he’s my brother, and I love him, but I don’t really know him that well. we haven’t spent much time together in years, so it’s difficult to know each other.

when I was 6, my mother was pregnant with stuart, and she and my dad divorced. my dad remarried quickly and had a son with his new wife. that marriage ended shortly thereafter, and my parents married again when I was 12.

ben’s childhood was not easy, and by age 9, he was taking care of his younger brother and sister when their mother was out for the evening. twice my parents sought legal help to gain custody of ben, both times they were told that it was pointless.

consequently, growing up in dysfunction – like alot of us – resulted in behavior issues – again, like alot of us. as we grew older, our issues grew larger, naturally. ben’s issues led him away from our family, physically and emotionally. things were said and done to cause pain and resentment on both sides. there were months that we didn’t see or hear from ben.

by the time we moved to north carolina in 1998, ben was coming around a little bit, but the relationships hadn’t been repaired yet. soon thereafter, ben met and married anne. from what I can see, she has been the best thing that ever happened to him. he has become a totally different person because of her. having a wife and then children has helped him grow into the man he was supposed to be.

we lived here for a couple of years before they started coming for visits. for the first couple of years, they stayed with mama and daddy. this was hard for mama for a couple of reasons. first, if you know her, you know that she’s not a very social person; she could live all by herself and be perfectly content. but the main reason was what ben represents. how hard it must be for mama to look at ben, and to be reminded of her husband’s infidelity. you can put heartaches and hurts behind you, but when those hurts are in front of you, face to face, it takes strength to deal with.

for the last few years, they have stayed in our house. it’s like a big slumber party, having those girls here. I can’t believe how much fun it is to be an aunt, it’s like being the mama, but still able to send them to someone else at the end of the day. I have 3 neices, soon to be 4. I keep pictures of all of them here on my desk.

I have gotten to know anne over the years, and had several conversations with ben. I think if they lived closer, we would obviously spend more time together, but as it stands, once a year is what we’ve got. anne, mandi and I hang out when they are here, which is pretty cool. I’ve always wanted a sister, now I have two sisters-in-law. I think that ben and I have a decent relationship, I don’t harbor any ill feelings, and I don’t think he does, either.

I know that we’ve got a ways to go, but I think we’ve established a good foundation. rome wasn’t built in a day, and a close bond can’t be quickly built in just a few days a year. if you had seen our family 10 years ago, you wouldn’t believe where we are today, and hopefully you won’t recognize us in another 10 years.