When my three brothers from Kansas called to say they were coming for a visit, I was pleased but a little nervous. The last time all four of us were together was in 2002 when we met at the attorney’s office after Mom died. That was an excruciatingly painful experience, and we’ve had limited contact since then.

I knew their main purpose for coming to Oregon was to see our 87-year-old Aunt Jean, but I invited them to stay with us.

Here’s what happened . . . We acknowledged that the years after Dad’s stroke were painful. None of us defended, explained or apologized for anything that happened. We avoided conversations about politics and religion. Everyone was kind and thoughtful, and we found common ground.

My oldest brother Larry said, “I have often wondered how we could have grown up in the same house and all turned out so differently.” (It’s a question I have asked many, many times.)

However, as we shared stories from our youth, it became very apparent that even though we shared the same DNA, we had very different experiences as kids. We may have grown up under the same roof, but our gender and birth order heavily impacted our sense of self and our world view.

We discovered some surprising differences as we recalled the distant past. However, I believe the things that had the greatest influence on who we have all become is a result of the choices we made about who we married, where we lived and what we did for a living.

We have all done some things well, and we have all made some mistakes for which we have paid dearly. This weekend, we cut each other a lot of slack. There was no need to dredge up old hurts, misdeeds or failures.

They left early this morning, and I know our relationship has been forever changed. We will never be alike. Our recollection of past events are different, and we will never view the the present or the future through a similar lens. But we have reached a place of peace. We have accepted one another for who we are. We have reconnected, and today I am giving thanks that we are once again a family.