Monday, February 24, 2014

My Big Brother

My brother has a girlfriend!  And I am tickled to death!

I remember when I was 14, a freshman in high school.  Wade was 17 and a senior.  I remember being totally shocked when girls would tell me how cute he was, how sweet he was, that they had crushes on him.  Several tried to get ME to help THEM get a date with him.  And I would think, “You’re talking about MY brother?  Wade?  You have GOT to be kidding me.”

Growing up, I idolized my brother.  He was the only son, the only grandson on my father's side of the family, and we all thought Wade was the greatest thing since sliced bread.  He was smart.  He was funny.  He was mischievous.  And he was downright mean to his little sister!

EASTER, 1966
 I remember the summer when I was about 5 years old he would somehow convince me to play this game where I would step wherever he pointed.  (Give me a break.  There was no such thing as video games.  Our one, 12" TV had 3 channels.  In black and white.)  How many times do you think he was able to get me to step on a bee perched on clover?

If he didn’t have me stepping on bees, he was convincing me to try one of mother’s skinny little green peppers, fresh from the garden.  He would take a bite and say, “Look, Kerry.  It’s not hot!  You’ll like it.  I promise.”  Or, “I SWEAR this one’s not hot.”  And, like a puppy wagging its tail, I would stick my tongue to the tip of the pepper and start screaming from the heat.  Nothing made him laugh harder that summer.

Then there was the time mother gave him the chore of knocking a wasp nest off her clothesline in the backyard.  He managed to convince me, his naive little sister, that a real live wasp looked way cooler, way different, than a dead wasp lying in the corner of the carport.  He chose a spot for me to stand and instructed me that as long as I didn’t move a muscle, I wouldn’t get stung.  He threw a large dirt clod at the nest and ran away laughing as I stood bug-eyed and mesmerized by all the angry wasps buzzing around my head.  And of course I got stung.  Right.  Between.  The eyes.  (This was before Botox was all the rage.)  But although mother yelled at him, he still turned it around to his favor.  Mother was out of Clorox that day and allowed Wade to chew up some of daddy’s Beech-Nut to take the sting out.  He always wanted to chew tobacco because daddy chewed tobacco, but usually mother would not have it!  But she did that day.  She even ASKED him to!  And afterwards, Wade happily went galloping off into the sun to find other exciting things to get into while I lay prostrate in my bed, suffering from a hot, sweaty, stale summer day, with a wad of tobacco perched between my eyes.  (Which was wet from Wade’s spit!)  Talk about adding insult to injury...!

I won’t even try and count the number of times he left dead snakes in the path between our house and Granny’s to scare the living daylights out of me.

And so, when all those giggling girls in high school starting saying, “Oooooooh, Waaaaaade!” I would roll my eyes and think they were nuts.

A lot has changed since those days, though.  Now I am 47 and Uncle Wade is 50.  But he is the one person in my life who shares the same memories I do:

Being banned to the apple tree in the middle of the pasture and pretending it was a fort.  Riding his pony around our grandfather’s 40 acres, playing cowboys and Indians. The smell of Paw’s cigarette lighter fluid; the sound of his laughter.  The taste of Granny’s biscuits and
dumplings and fried apple pies.  
Riding over to Pea Ridge with Granny to help her pick blackberries so she could cook one of her cobblers or make blackberry jam. The sound of mother and daddy and Granny singing around the piano after Sunday dinner. The back bedroom at Granny and Paw’s house, where we would run and slide across the cold linoleum floor in our sock feet.  The sight of Paw and Granny playing Rook around the kitchen table with Uncle Bud and Aunt Myra.  Watching Granny take such loving care of Paw while he was bedridden with Rheumatoid arthritis.

So after Wade’s divorce last summer I became extremely protective and territorial of him.  I had been through the newly divorced, single and vulnerable game and I had learned a lot of the tricks that people play.  I made a point to warn him against the pitfalls of dating at our age.  The things to pay attention to and the things to avoid.  I talked him into joining Facebook to ward off some of his nighttime loneliness and, when he thought he was ready, I encouraged his joining an online dating site to try and find a suitable companion.  But I would log into the site as well, to point out the women I thought he should avoid or the women I thought he might want to get to know.

MARCH, 2008
I realized that some women may not think that my brother is perfect, but that others would think he is awfully close.  I saw his tender heart, his handsome looks, his charm and sense of humor.  I saw what the single women our age would see.  A good man.  An honest man.  A dependable, loving and loyal man.  A hard-working man.  A one-woman man.  A man of integrity, strong values and morals.  A man that isn’t easy to come by in this day and age.  And I worried.  I worried he would fall, fast and hard, for the wrong woman.  A woman who would take advantage of him and hurt him.  A woman who wouldn’t appreciate him and love him the way he deserves.

But I didn’t give him enough credit.  He found a girlfriend!  (Of course he did.)  Someone very kind and warm-hearted, loving and giving, who takes good care of him.  Who fits right in with the rest of our family.  And I am tickled.  To.  Death.
JULY, 2013

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful, loving tribute. Makes me realize how special BOTH of my children are. I love you both so much it almost hurts.