I remember the first time I saw him. He was in the company of his mother, two sisters and a brother. They were all of the same age, though none were identical. They had all been born at home in varying time intervals over a period of quite a few minutes. There was so much happening at the time, with so little help, that no one had been able to keep track of the order in which they were born. In the scheme of life, that bit of information didn't really seem to matter given what ultimately happened to the family. They never knew their father, nor he them. Their mother seemed nonplussed by that fact. They reflected her uncaring attitude and may never even have realized a father could be part of a family unit.
As time passed the family drifted apart, first one sister, the brother, and then his other sister left home. He was finally the only one remaining at home, alone with his mother. The brother and sisters never again had contact with him, or his mother, to the best of my knowledge. Any sense of loss the son and his mother might have felt was not revealed. They proceeded with their usual activities. Then, one day, inexplicably, his mother left -- just disappeared. He showed no signs of even noting her departure. He went about his business, was quite independent, though he clearly welcomed being given the opportunity to stay with us and have us provide his meals.
Considerably later, when any sorrow he might have felt had by then lessened, the unthinkable happened -- his mother suddenly reappeared but she had a new family of little ones in tow. They were without the company of a father, nor did he ever come around to visit them either. As before, the family members showed no discernible awareness or distressed feelings with this apparent abandonment by their father, or, I thought, perhaps the mother had just run off. I finally concluded that they might never ever have had any contact with their Dad and thought about what they all were missing.
Distressingly to me, the mother displayed less than warm loving feelings toward her older son. She even kept him some distance from the new young family, but I thought in time they might begin to reconcile and integrate as the new little ones grew older. But that was not to be.
In the early morning hours one day, sudden traumatic annihilating disaster descended on the new family and the mother's life ceased forever when she was attacked outdoors in a most brutal manner. The older son was inside the house at the time, and neither he nor we knew what had occurred until some hours later. Not only did his mother not survive, neither did any of his younger brothers and sisters for very long after her death. Again, his feelings about this tragic outrage were hidden from me and everyone, but then there had been a lengthy estrangement between the two of them. He had long since been completely enclosed in the arms of our family, so our caring atmosphere may have protected him from any pain he might otherwise have felt with this final, clearly permanent loss, of his mother, along with any semblance of family he ever knew.
Our family openly, reassuringly and lovingly offered him our continued caring. We provided him a home, food, medical care, embracing him as one of our own. He returned our affection in a multitude of small actions and gestures. Of course, there was that time when he soiled the guest room bed pillow, but we later learned he had a medical problem that caused him to be unable to avoid this accident. We felt badly that we had been angry with him and had behaved so poorly toward him at the time. In retrospect, I realize he probably had difficulty understanding our change in attitude toward him then. But once we knew the nature of his problem, were able to get him treatment, we did our best to redeem ourselves in his eyes.
His life was of lengthy duration, rich in experience as he travelled across the country with us, living for a time in a desert climate, then later to the west coast. Our lives were enriched for his having been a part of our family. Our actions toward him through his life's years at least partially accounted for the fact that he thrived as he did, gave so much pleasure to our family, I believe. His mere presence, demonstrated that empowering love which flowed as revitalizing unseen energy between us, each time we stroked his furry body and he gently rubbed responsively against us in tandem with a purr which seemed to motorize his movements. When his health deteriorated beyond his ability to recover we all cried, but each of us was bound together by that invisible ray of energized memory that is the power of love.