THE CHARACTERS OF MY LIFE: Blood is thicker than water
Updated: Oct 20
Allow me to introduce you to the characters of my life.
Growing up, I always concealed part of myself in my household. With traditional, immigrant parents, it wasn’t exactly customary to discuss boys, drugs or the ever so cursed ˢˡᵉᵉᵖᵒᵛᵉʳ.
So I found my solace in my own bonds.
“Friends are the family you choose,” I would say.
I did have some out-of-a-story book friendships. Connections I would swear on my life would never come to an end. Despite all possible calculations, some of them left my life as gracefully as they had entered.
“Family is always there for you,” my parents would dutifully say.
“Blood doesn’t mean true connection,” I would blasphemously reply to traditional parents that were taught that blood is everything.
And although I still agree with what my parents would call rebellious beliefs, I am blessed with a family that truly loves me. A family that applauds when I answer the FaceTime call after only 1 day of not answering. A family that doesn’t sit on my spot on the couch, even though I now live on the other side of the country because they’re patiently waiting for me to come back. A family that calls me “Princess” and does their best to satisfy my every heart's desire.
My dad- Oh, I could write pages upon pages about him. I know parents aren’t supposed to have a favorite, but I’m not so subtly his. I am the youngest and the only girl; a simultaneous blessing and curse. The first thing I always say about my dad is that his favorite movies are Taken and Finding Nemo. That man would go to the ends of the earth for me. He was the first to show me that a man should unconditionally and with his entire heart, love a girl. I guess that’s why I found such deep and intimate love. My dad is an underdog, so I will forever cheer for him. He came from a poor household in Ecuador with five other siblings. He played soccer on the street barefoot. He split a single egg between eight people for dinner. He studied his ass off and immigrated to Canada.
I look at my life and all the opportunities and experiences I was awarded at the hands of his hard work and I feel eternally grateful. There are languages that I wouldn’t know, countries I’d never explore and people I would have never met if it weren’t for him. I have his work ethic. I have his unwavering belief of self; something he’d bestowed on me.
Sometimes he says, “Oh no! I’ve created a little monstrito!” Adding ´ito’ to the end of words to make them cute is a Spanish thing.
He says he gave me too much belief in myself because I constantly want to wander and explore this beautiful world.
“Why do you want to leave me?,” he’ll ask.
He’s got it all wrong. I don’t want to leave him. I never leave him. Even when I’m strolling the streets of Osaka or securing my dream job in Jasper; he’s always with me. I am a reflection of him.
“You should be proud! It means you’ve taught me everything I need to know. I’m ready to be on my own,” I’ll say.
“There’s still more to learn,” he’ll cry.
I have no doubt about that. I am looking forward to still learning from him. Even if I am on the other side of the world.
My mother is the most selfless human being I know. I suppose that's the defining trait of a mother. To sacrifice sleep, energy or your own pleasure for the sake of your children. She taught us all how to drive; my father was way too nerve-wracking for the task. She would tell me to step on the gas pedal gently.
“As if it were a flower,” she’d say.
She is a flower. She glooms and beams. Not for herself. No, mother’s never do anything for themselves. She made herself beautiful so onlookers would see and it would revive their faith in this world.
When Daniel died, my family moved houses and I refused to be a part of the home decorating initiatives. It would be a long time before I did anything remotely close to ‘living on.’ She’d ask about what I wanted my room to look like.
I’d say, “Just make it all black.”
When I arrived at the new house and entered my room for the first time it was almost
She said, “Even if you feel darkness, I will make sure you are surrounded by light.”
Sometimes I think about how seeing me walk through life as a shell of a person must’ve been for her. To see your own flesh and blood in excruciating pain and not be able to do anything about it.
Even though I don’t believe in the power of it, I know she prays for me everyday. She would pray to bring him back to me.
Don’t ever question the depths of a mother's love.
My brother Diego is referred to as “The Balance” in my household; as if he was Avatar: The Last Airbender, here to restore harmony to the four nations in our house. I always call him “The Original Serpent.”
He is the epitome of the perfect child. Doesn’t hide things from his parents. Doesn’t really go out. Always asks for mother’s approval. He always snakes me, hence his title. It sickens me.
I, of course, was his opposite. I don’t consider myself to be a problem child by any means. But any child would look bad next to Diego. He always does the right thing.
He is the sibling I am closest to; we are only two years apart. We look so similar though that we could pass for twins. He hates that. He hates it even more when people assume I’m the older twin. We run around the house like cat and dog, as all siblings do. But at the end of the day, we’re pals.
My eldest brother Daniel is an interesting and complicated one. He’s about eight years older than me, which in theory makes it harder to connect. Although, our disconnection probably stems from something else.
Throughout my childhood, he had a wild and all-consuming temper. His mood would change as quick as we would flip through TV channels.
Now he takes medication to regulate his moods. Don’t ever pill shame. I’ve seen my brother be a terrorist in our own home to calling me “Princess” and saying “Yes my highness” to make me giggle. Sometimes there are two kinds of people within the same person.
People always ask me how the youngest girl in the household got her two older brothers to dote on my every command. I like to think it’s because I have two brothers. I had to overcompensate. It was always me and one brother against the other. They wouldn’t dare team up against me. They know I would win anyways.
That’s the voice of the little monstrito my dad talks about.
I have a third brother but I also call him my best friend. Pluto is the epitome of unconditional love. There is no greater validation than being your family dog’s favourite. He was the family member I most confided in. He met Daniel and gave him his paw of approval. He would bark as I led Daniel upstairs to my room when no one was home. Just your typical overprotective brother.
I made it my life’s mission to make him happy. It didn’t take much. We would just go on walks together. I say ‘go on walks’ instead of ‘walking him’ because I let him walk freely. You don’t walk your best friend- you just hang out.
It was a level of trust no one else in the family could command from him. He would listen to me as we stopped at crosswalks and looked both ways before crossing; even if there was a cute little puppy on the other end of the street.
He was the absolute goodest boy; worthy of improper grammar. When Daniel died, I lost my will to go for walks with him. Although he’s usually fickle with other members of my family, he was very patient with me.
He sat beside me as I lay like a zombie on the couch and surrounded me with all his toys. That’s what made him happy when he was sad. He knew about Daniel, I know he did. I did tell him- but I know he understood.
He was my most loyal and truest companion. We grew up together. It’s still weird calling my parents on the phone and not asking about him.
So that’s it folks. That’s the love I was always shown within the walls of my home. I know it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of your life. I know it’s easy to celebrate milestones like drinking alcohol for the first time and your quarter century birthday bash with your friends. But just remember, as you are growing older, so are your parents. Call them regularly. Say “I love you” when you leave the house even though affection makes you uncomfortable. Just how you go out and make experiences with your friends, make sure you also do with your family.
Blood doesn’t mean everything, but it does mean something.