Saturday, August 01, 2009

My brother's 70th birthday

Top - David at Mangrove Bay in Bermuda in 1959
Middle - David at 15 or 16 with Uncle Ralph's red/white Olds 88.
Bottom - David at 21 with his wife, Sue.

Today is the 70th anniversary of my brother David's birth. Of course, he's not around to celebrate - at least not in the body. His spirit may be here somewhere, and I can almost hear him, "What are you doing up? Go back to bed." He said that many times when we were growing up. He would awaken and find me crouched with my face to the window where the cool air came in, my back against the side rail of his bed.

After more than 40 years, I still miss him. He's never aged in my heart or mind. I cannot imagine what he would be like. To me, he's still the wannabe "tough". He was learning a profession - welding - but I absolutely cannot imagine that. He had long slender fingers that were made for music, which he never mastered. I think of him as delicate even though he had good shoulders and body strength.

I cannot imagine him as a father or coming home as a husband after work to his wife, Sue. He has never grown up - Peter Pan.

Belief - like with Puff the Magic Dragon - my belief in him is strong. He was my advocate, my idol, my teacher, my friend. He loved me without reservation, and he put up with me even on dates when I was in 5th and 6th grade. He took me to school with him before I was old enough for first grade. He and his friends played with me and taught me the rules of "brotherhood". You take your licks, you don't rat on your friends, you share what you have, you play close to the edge but safe, you call for help, you give help when needed, you respect your elders and mentors, you have time alone, you have time with others, you dress the part, you play your cards close to your chest.

You clean your gun when you come in from the woods; you hone your knife and oil it; your take care of your tools and your toys. You don't point a gun unless you intend to shoot it. You don't pull a knife unless you know you can keep it. Desperate situations call for desperate measures. Running is better than dying or being hurt. You laugh about the close calls. Quiet means safety.

I don't know if he taught me about winning but possibly - you figure out who has the power and what you can do to use their power for what you believe. You pay back or pay forward for favors received. You are thankful for what you have. You know that God is with you whether or not God is on your side because God may not choose sides. Praying is what you do in conversation.

I never went to kindergarten; so I never learned the rules of life that you're supposed to learn there. But, my brother who died when he was 22 had already learned those rules and thought his little sister ought to know them, too. Thanks, buddy.

Happy Birthday, David.