Hello and welcome back! In Part Two we came to learn of yet a third half-brother. We ended Part Two preparing ourselves to learn more about my biological father’s family and its influence on my views on nurture verses nature. I will explain why below but for now, what I have experienced since Part Two was published is worthy of its own part and the time for sharing it is now. Moreover, what I will share below in this part further fortifies my views on nature vs. nurture.
As I write this sentence, I am in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas the morning after meeting for the first time the third biological half-brother. Yesterday was April 5th and my 52nd birthday. It was also the first time that three grown men bonded by paternity would be together. God as my witness, it will not be the last. We are all familiar with the expression that “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!” I promise you that for this experience, that rule will be defied with a vengeance. This will be a birthday I will never forget – not only because of the significance of this meeting of brothers, but because the level of over drive in which my heart and mind were operating. I don’t know if there is a psychosomatic or placebo-like component to all of this, but I believe I can safely speak for all three of us. It took no time at all for us to feel comfortable with one another. Does DNA do that? Does the belief in DNA do that? Or does the want for DNA to do that, do that? Who knows? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we now know more about our bloodline to human history that hitherto we only knew existed, but had no knowledge of – and we share that bloodline with others.
Among the three of us, I am in the middle age-wise. The oldest, Dan (who I met first and of whom I spoke in Part Two) and I were both adopted. We both grew up with siblings in our adoptive families. The youngest of us three, Scott, who we met for the first time in Las Vegas (where he now lives) was raised by his biological mother as a single mother. He grew up without siblings. At one point in the night, I showed Dan and Scott a picture of my adopted brother, Andrew and me. Scott asked if we were close. I responded with the colloquialism “we’d take a bullet for each other.”
Later that evening Andrew came up again in conversation. Scott paused and then said, “You said you two would take a bullet for each other.” I nodded and he replied, “That’s pretty cool man.” At that moment it hit me that he grew up without someone with whom to fortify a true lifelong bond. My emphatic response to him now was and remains this. “You now have brothers and while we just met, this experience binds us in a way that is no less meaningful or enduring.”
Dan and I grew up with our separate experiences of common working-class family struggles. Scott however shared with us that the environment of his youth had some rather rough edges. I must clearly distinguish that with my use of the word environment I am referring to the neighborhood comprising all that was outside the walls of his childhood home. As he talked about his mother and his relationship with her, there was no doubt that inside those walls was a home to a boy and his mother who was determined give her best and make the best of everything for her son. Scott holds his mother with love and reverence that is unconditional, unwavering and unending.
When I began communicating with him a few weeks before this first meeting, he requested that his relationship to us be kept on the down low, at least initially. He was thoughtfully concerned with how his mother would process the knowledge of other children from the same man with whom she had Scott. This request is not only understandable but also quite noble on his part. The events that led to his mother remaining a single parent will return us to Part Two and how it was to be that Dan and I would first meet at the gravesite of the man who was father to all three of us. I will share more about that in a future part of this series.
It fascinates me that I, along these two with whom I am genetically linked are so unique – no doubt due to the widely varying life experiences. Dan leads a life rich with honor and commitment as a family man. He and his wife Jenny are proud parents to five grown children. They also have five grandchildren. During our first meeting a month earlier, I learned about the richness of his faith and strength of his values and I was awestruck. Even through I’ve spent nearly the past thirty years in the white-collar working environment and have held senior roles and consulted with and for the highest echelon of the executive ranks, I am a little bit of a rebel at heart. I often march to my own drummer and I’ve been told that can be viewed as irresponsible or even selfish. I view it as what I truly believe it to be; an epic internal battle between who I think I am supposed to be and who I really am and desperately need the courage to be.
Dan is a highly principled human being and I am proud of him for that. Dan is the one who instigated this entire meeting of brothers. Without him, I cannot imagine how much more time would have elapsed before any of this would have happened, or if it would have happened at all. For that, I will be grateful to him for the rest of my life.
Preparing to meet Scott on this trip to Las Vegas, I learned, in part with Dan’s help, that Scott was a musician in Las Vegas. I found some pretty cool rockin’ pics on social media. Man! I gotta meet this guy. There is one component to meeting Scott that for me personally is ushering in an epic paradigm shift in the way I view myself looking both inward and outward. In spite of, or perhaps due to, the challenges with which Scott observed his mother struggle, he has made a life for himself as an accomplished rock musician and vocalist, and more important, he is good human being who is grounded. Here is where my paradigm shift begins. My relationship with music since I was about ten years old has been revived in the past few years and in Scott I came to know the man I once-upon-a-time hoped I would grow up to be. There is still a chance – when I grow up. He has amassed neither fame nor fortune, but he gets by. He has played with rock bands who were topping the charts in the 80s – my generation’s decade of music. Every generation has their own timespan for music that defines it. Many bands that my generation grew up listening to still do perform, be it in smaller venues. Learning that I am sharing blood with a guy in this scene is, well, that’s way cool bro! I can imagine the challenges in his life and the fortitude from emerging the stronger for it. I am quite proud of Scott. I need to stop here and visit this very important point. I now have two younger brothers and an older brother – one I’ve known and loved since the day he was brought home nearly 50 years ago. I am proud of all of them each in their own uniquely powerful way. I am grateful to God for each of them in my life.
On the second night of our weekend in Vegas we went to a bar where Scott knew the band. I am a country music fan and those of you who are with me on this might know of Toby Keith’s song “I Love This Bar”. The bar we went to is a chain inspired by this song. And the name of the bar? Yep, Love This Bar. We’ll see shortly why I now love that bar too.
Once the band was taking a break, I spoke with the lead guitarist to share our story with him and requested that he say a few words and maybe do a song about brothers. His response? “We know your brother. He’s back stage getting ready to take lead vocals on a couple songs with us.” Can I say it again? That’s way cool bro! Minutes later the band emerged, and the lead guitarist announces that they have a guest singer to help us rock out a little. Yeah, let’s do it! Scott begins by revealing to the crowd he recently turned fifty. He then made the following announcement:
“Tonight, I met two guys who kinda look like me, kinda act like me….. and we just found out that we have the same daddy. Our father seems to have been quite the rebel. This goes out to him.”
With that, the band tore into the opening for Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell. Well how about this! Scott not only nails it but also is no stranger to working a stage.
I don’t want this one element of the whole experience of meeting these half-brothers to overshadow any other element. They are all important. This one just seems to have a slight edge in the ‘cool factor’ department.
It’s cool for the obvious reasons. But it’s especially so to me for a deeper reason. A reason that motivates me to ponder deeply about the balance of contributions from genetics and environment in determining who we are as individuals and the life we are meant for. For me this is what makes the nature vs. nurture dialogue so fascinating. I mentioned at the end of Part Two that we would be visiting this in Part Three. As I reviewed my completed first draft of this part including my reflections of nature vs. nurture my word count was way beyond my self-imposed upper limits. Moreover, I realized I was cutting out too much for the sake of brevity. So, in Part Four I will invite you back in time to visit me in my youth where we explore some interesting things. The good news is that most of the heavy lifting in getting that part organized is complete.
As always, I am humbled and honored to have you, the reader, here with me.
Thank you. See you soon!