21 February 2009

Not alone!

I have become aware that I have written so far as though the family I grew up in consisted of my father, my mother and me.

There were, in fact, one or two others :-)

To be exact, there were two others.

My sister Robin will probably have to wait until next time! My brother Peter - who has appeared in the combox - was born 20 January, 1944 (ha, ha! So now everyone knows how old you are!). We are only 16 months apart.

It is interesting to contemplate the differences between us. I will get a bit personal and trust that my brother will ... well, probably respond in kind :-) Remember, Peter, this is how things look - or looked - from my angle. I have already become very aware, having read what you wrote in the combox, just how differently the same things can look to two different persons who experienced them.

I have always thought that Peter and I exercised a sort of Darwinian ecological 'separation of habitat.' Perhaps the very closeness of our ages made this inevitable.

Peter was sporty; I was not. Peter was (later, when we were teenagers) attracted to motor vehicles; I was not. Peter was concerned about dressing decently; I was (definitely :-)) not.

I, on the other hand, was freaky about maths and science; I don't think Peter was. I was generally nerdy; Peter was most definitely not. Musically I think Peter was more attracted to popular music; I was (and am) almost wholly a 'classical' (meaning by that basically the western tradition from the baroque through the classical to the early- and mid-romantic) man.

Perhaps this only developed later. I notice that the things I am mentioning are all from our adolescence.

One of my problems - my biggest in trying to remember things about other people - is that I am, in fact, the most completely self-centred person I know.

Self-centred, not necessarily selfish. Well, yes, of course, I am selfish at times - alas! But I don't mean the choose-me-and-my-interests-before-others sort of self-centredness. I mean that I frequently don't notice things about others unless they relate directly to me.

Susan knows this better than anyone.

"I saw Jane in town today, Sue!"

"Oh, great! What was she wearing?"


I expected I would have noticed if she had been naked, so she must have been wearing something - but unless I had been interested in that, I would not remember.

So the fact is that I don't recall a lot of detail about my childhood with my brother.

But I think he does.

One incident he has mentioned to me - which I absolutely have no memory of - is the time I hit him over the head with a plank - a plank, in fact, that had nails sticking out of it - presumably causing potentially serious injury.

And I cannot recall that. I think I remember his telling me of another time, possibly more creditable to me - and possibly when we were teen-agers - when someone was attacking or abusing him, and I charged in to his defence.

Don't remember that one either.

The nicest thing I recall about Peter happened in about 1997 - long after our childhood, of course. From the time Edna and I moved to Hawai'i, in 1966, to 1997, he and I had very little to do with one another. Well, it's not too surprising, I suppose. Until the 1990s there was no e-mail; toll calls, particularly overseas ones, were very expensive.

Still, I think we had grown very far apart. Indeed, even before 1966 I don't think we were very close. And after I became a Christian - and began trying to convert everyone and everything by my own sheer will-power - well, it was pretty separating.

This was really far more my fault than his. I recall once, during those years, his sending me a book about Chinese characters, a book which tried to relate them to the Bible. I don't know if I thought much of the book - but it was, as I reflect on it, a deeply moving, touching thing for him to do. He is not religious himself. His wife - another Susan Jensen :-) - is a serious believing Mormon; his brother is a serious believing Catholic. He likes to say that he is the last heathen hold-out in the family.

But I scarcely noticed him, until 1997. He and Susan came to visit us. They stayed about a week (I think) in Pukekohe, then did a lightning tour down to Christchurch, and back.

I found out an astonishing thing in that visit. I found out that I love my brother deeply. I was 55 at the time, and he was 53, or 54. I suppose some would say that it was about time.


Edgy said...

Dad, for someone who is almost totally self-centered, you seem to have a remarkably strong and noticeable effect on other people. It seems to me that whoever I speak to about you, they always say the same thing; what an caring and loving person you are... I always get this same reaction.

On another subject, PETER! Please come back! I remember the visit my dad is talking about and it really was quite a profound experience to meet another Jensen...
So yeah, any time you want to come visit, your more then welcome and I'll be waiting in the airport terminal to jump on you howling with glee... or something similar

I'll see you when you get here :)

John Thayer Jensen said...

Thank you for your kind words, Eddie.

Dunno - about kind and loving, I mean - sometimes I manage. But then I said 'self-centred,' not necessarily 'selfish.'

Regarding Peter - absolutely right, of course, but it isn't always easy - as you will find out when you are our age :-)

Unitman said...

Thank you for your kind words, Eddy, and believe me the feeling was and is mutual. Plus, if I do come down again, we can all go to the chicken place Johnny used to work at. What would really be good is to all meet up in Hawaii. But if that isn't possible, Sue and I may well come back down again. The place is gorgeous, has mimi mounds, and of course all you guys. Take care, Love, Peter and Susan.

Unitman said...

Incidentally, I have some comments, Eddy, on your Dad's blog. Will get to it tomorrow morning. Peter