Kim Drury is a mother, daughter, and sister, who instinctively took on the role of anchor when her family needed it most.
A retired professional hockey player. A gay son. Small-town Ontario, 1970’s. My dad was 34, retired and unemployed in 1976. Alcohol began to be a daily habit, then, a lifelong medication. My Mom tried to hide the battle zone we were living in, my brother struggled with who he was, and I was trying to stay out of everyone’s way.
Being the anchor really isn’t something you choose, it evolves. Bob was my first and only friend for a long time. In late September, starting at yet another new school, we stood waiting for the bus. I was eight, heading into third grade, my older and much more confident brother was heading into fifth grade. Right there at the bus stop, Bob eyed up a set of twins. They appeared to be about his age. He said, “hey” the boys came over. It was that easy. He never forgot about me, “This is my sister.’ he said. I smiled.
My parents tried to adapt to a new way of life, a young family, no money. They couldn’t seem to rally to my brother’s needs. The support wasn’t there for them or him. It fell to me, or I took it on, I’m not really sure which is true. I answered every call, day or night. My brother’s struggle raged for over 20 years and finally came to an end with an accidental overdose. My parents crumbled. It was me collecting his effects, arranging the service, making the phone calls.
Our family unit carried on. Loss affects people differently. My Mom became quieter, an emotional stone. My Dad became more tolerant and open to people’s differences. I continued to love them and learn that they were once younger parents trying to learn the ropes. Once I realized that they were like me, I accepted their failures and celebrated their successes. They became the epitome of Grandparents.
During my Dad’s brief illness, my Mom couldn’t cope and again, everything was on me. As soon as he passed it was her turn to slide. When I reflect on becoming the anchor, whether it fell to me or whether I choose to grab it, I’m thankful for the honour.