The reason why I don’t have kids. Part one.

As you know, a few weeks ago I turned 39 again. Which in reality is 45 but that doesn’t matter. Or does it? I’m 45 and I have no children. Will I end up alone? Let me tell you some personal stories.

When I was born my mother was almost 40 years old and my father 47. Which makes me an offspring. At the time my youngest brother was 12 and my oldest brother was already 18. As I got older I started to notice the age difference well, my brothers already had a girlfriend by the time I got 10 and they had different interests and things to do. Obviously I was too young to join them but that didn’t mean they didn’t make time to play with their little sister but still, basically I grew up as if I were only child. Around the age of 11 I found out that I had a sister, one I never knew because she died -at the age of 13- before I was born. My parents never talked about her an I found out by accident. As a child you have many questions when you find out something huge like that but I was smart enough to understand that my parents were hurt and didn’t like to talk about it so I let it be…

I still remember the day -I must have been around 16- when my mother told me in tears ‘Peggy, don’t have children, they only die’. She was hurt.

personal, This Is Peggy, children, no children, my brother Danny, story

My youngest brother Danny moved to Taiwan when I was 14 or 15, I don’t quite remember the exact age. After 5 years in Taiwan he moved to Japan. He visited us once a year, always around Christmas which made the holidays really special for all of us. Until that first day of November…

It was November 1st. As that’s a catholic holiday here in Belgium I was home. The phone rang and after a few minutes my mother called me because the call was in English and she couldn’t understand what the guy on the other side was saying. So I took over and my heart stopped beating. A guy told me that my brother had died. I don’t know how, but I was calm and asked him to tell me who he was, his name, the company he worked for and his phone number. I wrote it all down. After hanging up my mom asked me what it was all about and I still remained calm and told her I had to call my older brother and would tell her afterwards. Thankfully I could reach my older brother immediately, I told him what happened and about 15 minutes later he arrived at my parents house. In the meantime I had to inform my parents about this call…  Imagine. It felt like I was the parent at that moment and told them to remain calm until we were all together and we could could call this guy.

personal, This Is Peggy, children, no children, my brother Danny, story

So we did. And it was true. Danny didn’t arrive at work for two days and that was very unusual. He was not likely to take holidays and certainly not without informing the company so his colleague -the person that called us- got worried and went to his house. Where he found him laying on the floor next to the couch. Autopsie showed that his heart had stop beating. He was only 35…

Japan is not next door. So we had to arrange a whole lot of things. My mom, older brother -his name is Jos- and me decided to go to Tokyo because of the distance, the travel time and costs we came to a mutual agreement that my brother would be cremated over there. We would bring the ashes back home and have a ceremony once back in Belgium. Danny didn’t believe in the Catholic Church and we wanted to repect that. But my father got sort of a nervous breakdown and I couldn’t leave him alone so we decided I would stay with him and arrange everything for the ceremony, inform people and take care of my dad.

My mother and brother went away for 10 days. The company Danny worked for arranged a catholic ceremony with a French priest they found over there just for my mother, to give her what she needed. It was in a temple, decorated with white orchids.  I don’t know much about it, I know some people were present and it was really just to please my mom. She was grateful.

After the cremation -which was seperately- my mom and brother received the box with the ashes with the words ‘this is your brother, may he live in peace with you’. At the time, this was unthinkable to happen in Belgium, where everything is strict and costs money. They were really surprised and confused. The box stayed in the hotel room of my older brother till the day they left. On the plane it was put away seperately and once arrived in Belgium it was transported by the undertaker. Irony. I remember Jos saying ‘listen I have spend a week with the ashes of my brother, I took the box with me on the plane and now we can not even transport him home?’. Instead we had to pay 7000 Belgian Franks for the transportation. The law is a strange concept.

All this time I didn’t cry. I have no idea what came over me but it was like someone had taken over my body and mind. I arranged a nice non-catholic ceremony at the mortician and you are not ging to believe this but this ceremony was lead by a vicar, who was one of the friends of our family, even of my non-believer brother Danny. I remember him saying during the ceremony ‘Dear Danny, I’m going to direct myself to your parents now, please make sure you cover your ears’ when he said some words about God. Afterwoods we went to the cementry where I put the box in the wall, covered with white orchids as those were Danny’s favourite flowers. It was a beautiful ceremony and even though we had already decided not to organise the well know ‘coffee table’ because Danny was against it my mother changed her mind as to our surprise people from Taiwan and Japan came over. So she bought some sandwiches and invited them home. At the time I was really upset but now I’m older and I understand she felt she had to. I went to the gym to get rid of my frustrations.

My tears came a few days later. When everything was over and my brother was at my parents place with some Rolex watches, gold and other valuables that belonged to Danny. That was the moment I broke.

I still miss him. And every year around the end of October I get sad. Christmas doesn’t mean much to me anymore I simply celebrate it because of my parents and because even though I’m not a real family person I want to spend as much quality time with them as possible. They won’t be around much longer and I could never forgive myself for not being there for them on that day of the year when we see that empty place at the table and miss him so deeply.

To be continued…

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Peggy Timmermans
Written by Peggy Timmermans