Family Values This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   From the time I was a young girl, my brother Jon has been one of the most important people in my life. He is ten years older but that age difference makes our relationship stronger and unique. We are both illegitimate children of our single mother, which made hard financial and emotional times for us growing up.

While our mother worked and went to school, my brother Jon was a mother, father, and brother to me. As soon as the school bell rang, he'd take a bus to the other side of the city, pick me up from kindergarten and walk me home while we played "Don't step on the cracks." On weekends Jon had to forego hanging out with friends because he had to take me to the local welfare office for a free lunch and then babysit me for the rest of the evening. He sacrificed a lot for me and I am very grateful.

When I was a little older, my mother, who was now disabled, decided that I was old enough to understand what was happening. I found out a little about my father, why he wasn't around like other fathers, and why we had to work so hard for what we needed. Then I found out that I had four more brothers and two sisters! My parents had never been married to each other but he had been married to other women.

I couldn't believe I had other siblings. I was so excited. I dreamed of all the great times we would have, how happy we would be taking my newfound year-old niece and seven nephews to the park. But those dreams would never be realized. Because of my father's affair with my mother, they were never to know about me. It breaks my heart to think that I will never have a relationship with them, like I do with Jon.

My father gave me a picture of my sisters, Colleen and Erin, taken at my niece's baptism, and a picture of my brother Patrick. Examining every little detail of their faces, I try to see if we look related. Would they stop if they saw me on the street? I think of the special times I could have had with them, like Colleen's graduation or Patrick's wedding. I get so sad. A strong sense of family values was instilled in me at a young age. I'd like to know who I am, what my heritage is, my blood, my family, and to not be able to know them kills me.

Yesterday I spent the day washing Jon's dishes after I had lost a bet with him. He stood by me, cooking dinner and joking with me as usual. In my mind I think maybe someday, with luck, I will be joking around with my other family too. c


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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