My extended family

A homage to Tyson Bruce

Growing up, I was lucky to be included in an array of various families. My mother and aunties showed me that inclusion is important and needed. My grandfather used to joke, “you mix all of these children up, one day, you won’t know which child belongs to which family.”

I have always been a mother figure of sorts, I am the eldest of five children and had my first baby at the age of 20. That baby opened an entire reference book in my head that I did not know I had. Who would have thought that I would confidently know how to be a mother? Liam was my saviour, he enabled me to draw on those maternal instincts that I was subconsciously taught from my elders.

Three sons later, I have always had an open door policy, a safe house. A spare place to sleep, the ability to divide whatever food I didn’t have even further, to listen and love or even just sit in silence. Isn’t it funny how teenagers always know when it is dinner time?

There were and still are lots of great moments but sometimes it did get too much for me. Nevertheless, I have always welcomed our community’s children into my house, family and lives. I always feel especially special when I see or hear from one of these “kids.” I feel the honour and love hearts in the air from them (the same as I feel towards my female elders).

On Saturday morning, my youngest son Ryan, told me the news that we had lost one of our kids, Tyson Bruce. He had heard the news the night before, while mourning the sixth month anniversary of another friend. Instinctively, I had to get in touch with my son Dylan and my niece Jaimie.

Jaimie had known Tyson since Grade One, for fourteen years. At the time on reading the news, she was stuck at Straddie working her two jobs, while crying and serving customers. She has since returned to the mainland and has been able to grieve with her cousins and I.

Initially, I could not get a hold of Dylan and was so worried about him. Dylan and Tyson were “tight” for many years and despite the age gap, Dylan took Tyson under his wing and thought of him as a little brother. He would try to keep Tyson out of trouble, he would take him away on weekends and cared for him deeply. Tyson even followed Dylan to Alex Hills High and then back to Wynnum High. Eventually, I did get a hold of Dylan and we both wept and told each other how much we love each other. Dyl is still in shock and I am doing my best to stay out of the way but awkwardly hanging around at the same time.

Tyson was a big part of our family, he even helped my sister move a couple of times. Tyson was Ryan’s “big brother” and always watched out for him. He appreciated us and we loved him back.

I feel so honoured and privileged to have watch Tyson grow into a loving, happy and hardworking young man.

Thank you to Tyson’s family for sharing your son with us.

Love from Dylan, Jaimie, Ryan, JP and the aunties.