Brother Tom by
(103 Stories)

Prompted By Reconnecting

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Obvious choice: reconnecting with now-wife decades after junior high crush.  Lovely, but too obvious.

So….brother Tom.

Not unfriendly, but distant for many years.  Dynamic bad with my then-wife.

Then, our mother dying.  Brings us closer together: during and after.  Tom’s lovely relationship with my now-wife makes bond even stronger. We’re still very different, but tight as can be.

Last year, we researched a collective move to Portugal if Trump won. Delighted to be spared that, but, ironically, pandemic still keeps us apart. Hope to all vacation there when travel is finally safe.

Happy ending!


(RetroFlash 100 words)


Serious Tom                                                           In repose

Profile photo of John Shutkin John Shutkin

Characterizations: moving, right on!


  1. Laurie Levy says:

    It’s so true, Tom, that our relationships with our siblings can wax and wane due to life circumstances. So glad you found your way back to yours with your brother.

  2. Wonderful Retroflash John, you tell us all we need to understand your relationship with your brother Tom, I’m glad you’ve reconnected!

    My cousin has two sons who don’t speak, they fought years ago about a business arrangement they had made. It breaks their mother’s heart and mine too.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    Nice that you and Tom have a closer relationship now, John. Sometimes different personalities can keep siblings at a distance, but it seems you have bridged that gap, to some extent.

    If you guys had elbow surgery, would it be Tommy John surgery? Just curious…

  4. Suzy says:

    Great RetroFlash, John, you have certainly taken to that format! I love the framed picture of you and Tom in the trees – did that belong to your mother? Can’t imagine that you would have had it on the wall during the years when you were distant. Thanks for sharing your reconnection with us.

    • John Shutkin says:

      Yes; thanks, Suzy. And, of course it belonged to our mother; Tom or I wouldn’t have kept it over the years. She worked on a special supplement of the local newspaper for one of her non-profits (the New Haven Symphony), and the photographer was a terrific guy — and great photographer — who offered to take a picture of “the boys” as a courtesy to her. So we were dragooned into it and spent a chilly November afternoon in our orchard posing.

  5. Marian says:

    Sweet story, John, and it’s reassuring to know that brothers can reconnect. My bonus grandsons (the two who are brothers) have grown cool to each other, having chosen very different lifestyles, but your experience gives me confidence that their relationship will warm up as time goes on.

  6. Love the story John. While I’ve never had to reconnect with my sisters the notion of frayed/broken/lost sibling connections is very much on my mind. My dad had three brothers, one, Louis, died as an infant. Younger brother Babe (Carl, Jr. after my grandfather) became estranged from my dad and never truly reconnected. Older brother, another Brother Tom, was Dad’s best friend. He died of complications from Bright’s disease – now easily treated – as a young man the fall after he completed law school. I think my dad never really recovered. Although, in a sense, there was a bit of reconnection in his naming me for him.

  7. Khati Hendry says:

    Family ties are so important, even when they seem broken. So great you were able to reconnect. Sometimes getting older and wiser helps too.

  8. Khati Hendry says:

    And now we appreciate the saying, “Too soon old, too late smart”.

  9. Obrigada! (The only Portuguese I learned during my honeymoon there–and mostly in Spain).

  10. I’m so glad to know your bond with your brother is strong, John! I have a brother that, shortly before our mother passed, decided he wants nothing to do with the rest of the family and we haven’t heard from him in years. He didn’t even go to the funeral. Neither I nor his two younger brothers have a clue as to what happened, although we think he might have been pressured by his wife for reasons unknown. Still, we can’t help feel that if he would just see us, we could resolve things. It hurts.

    • John Shutkin says:

      I’m sorry about your situation with your brother, Barb; it sounds very tough. While I hate to over-generalize about such individualized situations, it does seem to me that spouses/partners play a significant role in sibling disharmony.

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