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Short Story Reconnecting

by: Chloe Tsakoza

I’ve always been close with both sides of my family, but I was quite too young to remember most of my fathers side of the family. My older siblings can remember most of them, but when I hit the age of 5 while my siblings were 7 and 10; mother would stop letting us see our other family since her and father were always fighting. Dad was always an alcoholic, but it progressed which is probably the reason they were always feuding, then eventually they just split for good. My father lives in the reserve and a few times when I was 5 my siblings and I would visit him for the weekend visiting most of our cousins and aunties and uncles etc. until mother just lost her trust with him. So we remained in Small town, that’s what our home was called, Small town.

I’ve lived a somewhat alright life, mother was always there for us except if she was angered or stressed or felt depressed she would go on some runaway and we wouldn’t see her for days on end so we would stay with our grandparents. They owned a farm so we normally just helped out around there. “Bear, your older siblings have decided it’s time to visit your father again..” Bear is what mother and my family called me, “Really? I’m surprised you would let us mom, I am actually kind of exi-“”no Bear, your older siblings, they are old enough to care for themselves, Jason has his license now so next week they will visit your father”. I was slightly angered by that. I’m 12 years old now and I’m more than capable of taking care of myself, but mother doesn’t see that.

I didn’t want to start any conflict with her so I kept my emotions to myself. It’s sad for my 1 younger sibling because she never met our father or any of his family, Addi is only 6 but I feel like she deserves to know about them, she has asked about him from time to time but mother wouldn’t explain well enough to her; so I told her my limited knowledge about him. Berry River Reserve was about a 1 ½ hour drive and my eldest brother Jason was going to drive there with my 2nd eldest brother Liam next week and reconnect with our father and his family. I was a little jealous to know I’m “too young” to go with them. If I knew any better I think mother stereotypes the reserve to be a bad place full of drugs and alcohol and bad people.

My grandma told me that it used to be like that though, since she used to party there with her friends until she was about 36, and she would tell me her experiences. I planned on calling my father one day, but something was holding me back, I’m not sure what though… It was odd. I have been going to school and living like an average pre-teen but lately mother has been depressed and wouldn’t really care if we went to school or not. Here and there she would have a good day and make us breakfast and get us all dressed and send us off to school. Jason usually just drives himself and Liam since they’re in highschool and he would sometimes refuse to give me and Addi a ride. I try my best to wake up early and get my little sister to the bus but it’s hard.

I was thinking about shooting a text to my father about our struggles lately. Mom doesn’t have much money and she’s always fighting with Jason, Liam is always taking Jason’s side and yesterday they decided they want to move in with our father. I was hurt knowing my brothers are leaving. After a week all the partying mother has been doing I decided it’s enough, “Mom! Please! You need help and I want to know what is wrong in your life that is making you like this, I am worried for you…is it da-” she cut me off in an instant, “Shut your mouth you little brat! You don’t know anything!..”. I could tell she was intoxicated and she started mumbling random little words and just stumbled off to her room with a broken bottle of wine in her hand.

I went to my sister’s room and as usual she was sleeping peacefully, not hearing a word just in her own little dream world. I missed my brothers, but I was angry that they left me and my sister behind with a woman who needed help. I wasn’t ever sure what to do. About half a month passed and I hadn’t heard from my brothers. My mothers habits got worse and she became a user after she got prescribed pills. I was now raising my sister, getting her and myself to school. It was a friday and not surprisingly mother was out with “friends”, and I was left home alone and had to keep my sister busy, “Where’s mom?”, she asked in her trembling little voice, “she will be back soon Addi, don’t worry”, I tried to reassure her.

I woke up to a loud bang, which sounded like a gun, Addi was sleeping by my side so I carefully krept off my bed and tiptoed to investigate the noise, I was silent I didn’t know what to think, mother was laying on the floor with her face looking completely different, not the beautiful woman I used to see everyday. I took her phone and called the ambulance because I didn’t hear her breathing. The ambulance came and took her away and a few cops were investigating our house while me and my sister were sitting on the couch. I held her tight and just started rubbing her head.

We dozed off into a deep sleep and woke to the sound of my brothers and a strange man in the doorway, my vision was blurry I don’t know why. The man hugged me and my sister tight while my brothers were watching with tears in their eyes, I looked up to see the man looked exactly like Jason and liam, he gripped my shoulders and had tears in his eyes, “I’m going to be a real father now…my little Bear…and Addi”. I looked at my brothers and slowly looked at the police, they had said my mother had overdosed and she will not be coming back this time. I let out a big cry while holding my father and Addi tight, and screamed, I just let out a big scream while my sister was streaming with tears as well.

About 2 months have passed since mothers funeral and my siblings and I live with my father now. Every relative I met from here always said the same thing, “woah! Bear is that really you? I haven’t seen you since you were this big!” and they imitated the size I was the last time they saw me. I was doing my studies at the table one day and my dad sat beside me and broke down, “Bear…oh my baby bear… I’m so sorry I was never there, I had no clue your mother was an addict, she needed help and so did you children this is the first time I even met Addi”, I looked at my father, he’s a big man and it was a surprise to see him sob like that it was quite sad, “it’s ok dad I forgive you… Jason, Liam, Addi and I are happy now, we will always miss our old mother. She’s resting now she’s done with the pain.” He let out a big smile and hugged me tight.

I learned a lot from my relatives about my culture. Cree is what we are apparently and my grandmother taught me a lot about our culture. I became good friends with my cousins, Alisha and Zack became my best friends on the reserve since we are the same age, I felt like a real 12 year old again living a life I thought I’d never have, I reconnected with so many of my family members here and I love my life how it is now, living with my siblings and my father and being around such a pretty place with all my family. I think that’s what I love about the reserve, it has a nice body of water, trees and all my family is around me and supports me no matter what. Not only did I reconnect with my family but I feel like I reconnected with nature. I will always miss my mother and I will see her again one day when I grow old and I can reconnect with her this time.