A Dream

Happy Chinese New Year! It’s the year of Monkey. Wish all of you have a healthy, happy monkey year.

Jan. 2nd, the day after Chinese New Year, is my brother S’s birthday. I called him this morning, wishing him a happy birthday.

The night before last night, (after reading Tree’s article “Some People Can’t Be Fixed“) I dram of seeing two devils pointed their guns at S. He sat there, apparently drunk, wasn’t aware of their presence. I slowly walked toward them. As soon as the devils noticed me, they turned and pointed their guns at me. This could be the end of my life, I thought. But I wasn’t afraid. In fact, I was very calm and, to my surprise, I felt peaceful. Looking right into their eyes, I said, “My brother is a nice person. Please don’t take his life.”

My dream ended there; I didn’t know if they shot me or not. It doesn’t matter. I said what I wanted to say.

S has a big, soft heart. My mom said once that if S owed nothing except the clothes he was wearing, if he saw someone in need, he would not hesitate taking his clothes off and give them to that person. That is very true. In the past several years, occasionally, S would mention to me that so–and-so was poor, and ask if I could help. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I bet so–and-so had more money than he did. Although I didn’t know how much money so–and-so had, I knew S had almost none.

Every time S heard someone was ill, he would call me asking if I could send some medicine to the sick person. “If I have any healing power, you would be the first one I want to help, don’t you know?” I said to him many times.

S and I didn’t have a wonderful relationship when we grew up. When I was 5, my dad took a job out of town. Dad came home once a month (the most). Mom was busy taking care of 4 kids by herself with limited money (I believe my elder brother, the oldest kid, was away from home attending college). Needless to say, we received little parental guidance, if there was any. Each of us struggled to survive in his/her own way. The middle two kids, S and I, struggled more than the others since the first two kids and the last kid was special for parents. Since S was a boy with a lot of pride, he suffered the most.

When S was 13 years old, one day, my mom asked him to take me to a movie. “Mom, she is a girl,” he protested. I didn’t want to go with him either, but my mom insisted. I hopped on S’s bicycle; his anger was obvious. I started feeling sorry for him, desperately wanted to cheer him up. I worked hard to find something say, hoping I could make him feel better. I was relieved when S finally calmed down. However, when we arrived home later, S told my mom, “Don’t ask me to take her out again! She talked so much. I couldn’t stand it!” His words hurt so much that I stopped talking to him, which, of course, didn’t bother him a bit.

By the time I went to college, S had started his two years army training. Army life was pretty tough, he started smoking and drinking. One day after school, I unexpectedly found S waiting in front of my apartment. He had a big smile on his face. “I have a day off, so I decided to come to see you,” he said.

I was happy to see him at first, but it didn’t take me long to realize that we had very little in common to talk about. We didn’t say much to each other throughout the dinner and it was obvious that we tried very hard to connect. Before he left, he emptied his pocket and put all his money in my hands. “I want you to have this,” he said. Knowing how little he made each month, I didn’t want to accept his money. “You are my little sister crying out loud,” he said and then quickly walked away. He turned around after taking two steps. “Would you please give me 2 dollars? I have to buy a bus ticket.”

Right after I graduated from college, I came to the United States and later found a job in Minneapolis. S got married. Many years later, S and his family immigrated to U.S.

Six months after S came, I got married and invited S to live with us (his family joined him later). Living with a new husband and a brother, who I didn’t know a lot, turned out to be very stressful. Every Friday, I emptied my pockets and gave all my changes to S so he would have little money to spend. But other than that little money, I didn’t have much to offer – not a lot of time, not a lot of energy and running out of patience. I knew S was lonely but I couldn’t do more for him. S eventually landed a carpenter job and moved to an apartment twenty minutes from where I lived.

Being a carpenter was not easy. Trying to fit in as a minority, S smoked more and drank more. Several times I watched him get drunk, lie on the sofa and cry like a baby. There were so many things that he wanted to tell me, but he didn’t know how to say it.

S has been bedridden for more than 10 years. Even though he has never managed to tell me what he wanted in his life, I am pretty certain that I know. For him, nothing is more important than his family. All he wanted is a family that we all get along and love each other. Had he stopped drinking (heavily) twenty year ago, he may find out now that he, actually, had had what he always wanted.

It’s sad to know that he worked so hard and, still, he didn’t get what he wanted (not in his mind). It’s frustrated to know that even if you are willing to give up everything to save someone, you may still not be able to.

But I am not telling you this story to make you sad. As bad as it is, my brother has taught me a lot of things: I’ve become more understanding, having more compassion, and being less judgmental. For that, I thank him.

On my brother’s birthday, I would like to tell the world how important having a good social/communication skill is. (I know I didn’t explain this well, but it is getting too long ;-( If S had a good social skill, he wouldn’t have to keep his thoughts/troubles inside, and maybe he would be a different person now. I know this because, in my heart, I know well that I could be ended up like him. And, maybe, it was because of that that I was brave in my dream.

Happy Birthday, S.

Thanks for visiting my blog.


About Helen C

A retired computer programmer who loves writing and photographing, and has managed to publish a YA novel "Jin-Ling’s Two Left".
This entry was posted in Memoir. Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to A Dream

  1. neihtn2012 says:

    Reading your post, I thought about the beginning line in Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina novel: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks for that nice quote, Hien. We had a happy family. My parents loved us a lot and we loved them. It was many years later, I realized what a price we had paid for my dad taking that “better” job out of town. It was many years later, I realized that love someone was not just love the person deep in my heart. Complicated…


  2. loisajay says:

    I hope your brother had a good birthday, Helen. You bring sunshine into my life with every post you write. The lessons are subtle but they are there. Thank you so much for this, Helen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Lois. I am still thinking about your name. 😉 I think I rather have yours than mine. I went to a Catholic college. To save some money, my dad went registering for me (and I went there when school started). Anyway, we had to pick an English name. My dad thought “Helen” is easy for me to spell… 😉 Ha. He was right.


  3. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Helen, Happy New Year to you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amy says:

    It must be a long lonely journey for your brother. I guess the inner struggle your brother had must be difficult for him to express. Thank you for sharing the story, Helen.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy Lunar New Year, Helen!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Edward Tan says:

    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story, Helen

    Wishing you and your loved ones a happy new year!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Touching story Helen. Sometimes relationships between brothers and sisters can be difficult, apart from anything else we aren’t the same gender and often don’t have the same shared interests. Nevertheless sibling love continues even when perhaps we don’t have too much in common. Sorry to hear your brother has had a rough time of it. I do identify with a lot you have said in this post. I have a brother too, who I love very much, but don’t see too often, and no sisters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Marje. I am so glad to hear that you do identify with what I have said. 😉 I don’t see my other brother often because of the distance. But I know he is doing well, and that makes me happy. I am sure you feel the same way with your brother.
      Have a great day.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Cee Neuner says:

    My dearest friend, I felt sad for you as a child losing out on having a brother who could be there for you as a friend and brother. That had to be hard on you. For that I am so sorry. I also felt sad for your brother. How hard it must be for him to get through a day let along a life time.

    Deep inside he knows you care and love him very much. It’s sad it doesn’t reach his surface though. You have come a long way in working with how you feel about him. He has made you a stronger and more loving human being. What a gift he was able to give you in his own unique way.

    Happy New Year. I’ll catch up with you later.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Cee. I think there is some advantage of being a girl. I have good relationships with neighbor’s kids. The next door girl was like my sister and the boy was just like my brother. Even now, whenever I go to Taiwan, I would spend a lot of time with them.
      We (my siblings and me) grew much closer after we became adults. I wish we were that way when we were little, but better late than never, I guess. 😉
      Have a wonderful day.


  9. Sue says:

    Very powerful story, Helen. Thank you for sharing it!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Grand Mader says:

    It’s amazing 🙂


  11. Dalo 2013 says:

    You sound like an angelic sister, and your brother as well even though in an unconventional way. A wonderful story and a tribute you’ve written here, highlighted by such a powerful dream. Wishing you and your family a great year ahead Helen, take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Your single flower is an apt image for the story you share with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. restlessjo says:

    What a good heart he has, Helen. It always amazes me how some people seem to be able to give without even thinking twice. I’m sorry you weren’t close but siblings often have a hard time, just rubbing along together. It’s still wonderful that you share this love. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Prior says:

    Helen- what a moving post…. Powerful story about your brother and enjoyed how you looped the dream Back in at the end (well written)
    and what an interesting dream – advocating for your bro -I think it shows true love through and through….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Yvette. S passed away 4 days after I posted my dream. A week or two before he died, I wrote him a letter telling him I was proud of him and happy to have him as my brother. I didn’t know he would die so soon. I am glad I did.
      Have a great day.


  15. mlmuldoon says:

    This is a very powerful story, and beautifully told. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thank you for your comment. Sorry it took me so long to reply. Shao passed away and it took me a while to sort things out.
      Life is good. Treasure every moment. 😉


      • Meghan says:

        Helen, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. It sounds as though he had been in a lot of pain, although I can’t imagine that makes coping with him being gone any easier. Please take care, Meghan


  16. Sue Slaght says:

    Helen the story of your brother grabbed at my heart. I so agree that communicating one’s feelings and not holding it all in is so important to good health and happiness. It took me decades to get that figured out I admit. Thanks you for sharing this. I will be reflecting on it. The very best to you and your brother.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: A Dream – 2 | HHC Blog

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