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Friday, November 11, 2016

My Brother

G was born exactly 14 months after I was born, on November 11, 1947. He would have been 69 today. I really miss him. We were close.

Mama said she took him to the doctor soon after he was born, thinking there was something wrong. It seemed he only pooped once or twice a day. She laughed about this. She explained to the doctor that I had poop in my diaper every time I peed. The doctor told her I was the one with an abnormal habit.  Since I was the oldest, she just accepted my habit as the norm.

Because I would not allow anything but the tip of a baby spoon in my mouth when I was fed, Mama gave me tiny bites on the tip of the spoon. When G was first eating from a spoon, Mama put a bit of food on the end of the baby spoon. She said he would raise his head, move forward, sort of jump, and get the whole spoon in his mouth. So, she started shoving spoonsful into his mouth and he was happy. Poor baby, having to follow me and my habits.

While I had dark hair and brown skin, he was a pale, translucent-skin little cotton-top. Mama said when we walked outdoors, I was brown after the walk and he was red-faced, red wherever the sun hit him. I was always tanned and he was sunburned.

We ate at a little restaurant in downtown Memphis when we walked to the park when I was two-years-old. He was so tiny and loved beets. I can remember looking at G eating, sitting in the booth beside me and wondering how he could stand beets.

Mama said G would at six-months take his finger and turn the wheels of a tiny car as he held the car. She said she showed him once and he kept doing it over and over.

My earliest memory of him was when he poked out the eyes of my doll, my only doll. I was two and he had just learned to walk. The eyes opened and closed until he poked them. I never, ever, trusted him again with any of my toys. That one incident made me very territorial. He threw a rock at me and chipped my front tooth. I was teasing him, so we both got into trouble. However, I, the injured one, got in more trouble. I learned not to tease when I could get hurt.

When I was eight- and he was seven-years-old, our family was going to the Fair in Jackson, MS. I contracted measles and could not go. The rest of the family left me with a sitter. At the fair, we only had a certain amount to spend. He took his money for rides and bought me a little heart with my name engraved on it. You know that by jewelry standards it was and is cheap. It was and is precious to me. I still have it. When I mentioned that heart about a year before he died, he was all choked up, saying he figured I did not remember it at all and had thrown it away. He was touched that I treasured it. I cried and told him what the heart with my name on it meant to me.

When I was ten- and he was nine-years-old, we were picking plums on the side of the road, but still on our ten acres. I looked down and fire ants covered one leg to my knee and the other leg to my very short shorts. I ran and jumped off the bank into the ditch, cutting my foot on something. I continued to run and scream to get home. He ran me down and pulled me to the asphalt and took his hands and scraped the fire ants off as I screamed. Fire ants hold on to sting so they must be forcibly removed. I was forever grateful!

I remember how we played baseball in our huge front yard. Daddy finally relenting and getting a television when I was fourteen ended lots of outdoor playing. We rode our bikes and traipsed in ten acres of woods. Since I was afraid of snakes, I made G go

He was very smart and talented. He taught himself to play the guitar, could sing, wrote poems and could draw and paint. I can do nothing on that list! He could build things and did. I remember being shocked by the fact that at 18, he cut a door from the kitchen in my mother's house to the utility room that opened to the outside. Of course, he framed it and hung the door, too. When I married and had a new house built, he hung the wallpaper and did a perfect job.

He liked to shoot squirrels and frog gig. He even ate the frog legs! Squirrels, too, I suppose.When there was no more corn in the serving bowl, he was so sad that I scraped mine off my plate and gave it to him. He didn't like birthday cakes; he wanted a cherry pie, so that is what he got.

One time when we were visiting my mother, my son who was four went to the backyard and stayed for a bit. My son came in and told me that Uncle G's girl had a beard. This was in 1972 and my brother had long hair. My son saw the other guy from the back and just assumed the person was a girl because he had long hair. I explained it was a guy. Then, my son told me that Uncle G was undressing a squirrel and that the squirrel had catsup inside and running out. I sent him back out to watch. G was highly amused.

2001 was a terrible year for me. First, in May my best friend died, the hoarder who died from his hoarding habit. Second, the World Trade Center was attacked in September. Then, in December, my brother died. He was born on 11-11 and died on 12-12. I was very depressed when my friend died, devastated on 911, and devastated in December. He was 52.

G called his son's name and was dead when he hit the floor. While he had a job with good insurance, he had not been to the doctor in 25 years, according to his wife. He had been complaining of his chest hurting, feeling tight, for two weeks, but ignored it. He had three sons in teens and early twenties. His wife was beautiful and a saint.

It was a hard trip to Nashville for his service before the cremation. Actually, so service, just friends meeting in a room and talking, sharing things about him. I took my sterling silver charm bracelet to a jeweler and had all the charms removed and put the little engraved heart on it. His friends and co-workers in Nashville were touched by the little heart.

Your turn
Have you lost a sibling? A younger sibling? Have you ever had a year that absolutely devastated you?


  1. Sorry about your brother- he was sort of like a twin to you, wasn't he? I'm the oldest of 6 and my youngest brother died at age 19. I was 21 years older but my youngest sister was just a year older than he was. Mom and Dad had 4 kids and then 10/11 years later the last 2. I have experienced a lot of death in my life too. My husband died of his first heart attack at age 48. Our kids were 8, 20 and 22. My parents both died in their 70s- Mom just made it to 74. It's really sad and as I age, I have tried to tell my kids (especially the girls), I might just have another 10 years. Of course, they never want to hear that but that is life. I believe in Heaven so I am not scared of death but I also remember you never know if you'll be here tomorrow.

    1. NAN,
      In one year I will have outlived my mother who died at 71. Daddy died three years before at 77. Since I am not exposed to the things they were exposed to, I think my chances are better for a longer life...maybe. I think that being the oldest child makes one more aware of life and death. It is sad your children were so young. I hope they cherish you.

  2. I am so sorry.
    This is a beautiful post.

    1. EC,
      Thanks, I was afraid it would seem mean. I miss him very much.

  3. My thoughts are with you. Both my husband and I lost siblings and the loss is overwhelming at times. This was a lovely post filled with sweet memories.

    1. SAM,
      Yes, it is still so fresh that I am shocked that I am still stunned and overwhelmed some days. Sorry about your losses, too. Thanks. I felt like I was rambling. But, how can you sum up 50+ years?

  4. This was a lovely tribute; thank you for sharing it.
    I am the oldest with four brothers. I better go first.

    1. Urspo,
      It was hard to process the fact he was younger and died first. It seemed unfair he died first. You understand.


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