The Birth of My Brother Johnny

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I guess the most unusual thing about me is my naiveté. During the years I was growing up, I was naive about life and the ways of the world. This was due to my strict upbringing, the discipline of not being able to voice an opinion whenever I wanted to, and not having permission to question decisions and authority. Permission was not given as it is to the younger generation today. When we were children, we were not allowed to speak until told to. It was almost like being in a court of law. We spoke only when asked to speak and not before.

There was a lot of strict discipline in my family. It was all right in a sense, but considering conditions today, it might have been carried too far. But that was the tradition my family lived by, and that was the custom they brought over with them to this country. That was their doctrine, and they lived by those laws. People like that were very seldom in trouble. My family managed to live a safe, good life without getting into any problems.

When I was a teenager, I was still naive and ignorant of much of what was going on with my family. All the family news, facts, history and business were strictly confidential, known only by adults, and off limits to children. Everything was secret, especially pregnancy. In those days babies were delivered in the home by a midwife or a doctor. It is not like today, where young children share the experience of birth with their parents. When a mother is pregnant, for example, they are encouraged to feel and hear the baby in the womb.

When I was 18 years old (shame on me), I didn't know that my mother was pregnant with my brother Johnny. She was a big woman, and seeing her every day, I had no hint of her pregnancy. I thought it was just a case of overeating good Italian food.

Since I was innocent of any sexual knowledge, and naive, I was surprised, to say the least, when Johnny was born. But as fate would have it, I had a date that night and when I returned home, "No later than 11:00 p.m., or else," I found anew baby brother had been born. There were no questions allowed about how he was, or how much he weighed- just acceptance of a brother.

This will give you some idea of what life was like under the strict discipline I had during my younger years. This acceptance of discipline became so embedded in me that it makes it difficult for me to fight back or argue any topic of discussion. I was taught to show humility to anyone who spoke to me. It even carried over into work and business.

There were many times when I felt that I should speak up, but just couldn't. This fear has been with me as long as I can remember. I thought that getting married would change things, but it hasn't, and I see no end to it. It will be with me until the day I die.

This is the reason for my being so sentimental. I give in to everything. I just search for a corner and cry it out. But I'll live through it. It is my fate, my destiny. I am happy in my own way. I love children, and am sorry we didn't have more-- but it was not my choice. Peace must be maintained in the family, no matter what.