Today’s my older brother’s birthday so of course I’ve been thinking about him. He lives in Georgia and I’m in South Florida so I only see him a couple of times a year. I call him pretty often so we keep in touch. But, when I really start to think about him and our relationship I have only one point of reference that really matters to me and that goes back to our childhood.
My mother had to work because she was the sole support of the family so my brother was left to keep an eye on me. Mother left for work really early so my brother was supposed to get up and get me up and make sure that I got ready for school and of course ate breakfast. Not so difficult one would think but I was a brat. I didn’t know it at the time of course but thinking back now, I’m surprised my brother didn’t kill me.
The first thing that happened every morning was my hair was in knots all over my head and I would scream and carry on about brushing it. My poor brother would be left to try to get the knots untangled but invariably ended up pulling out half my hair in the process. I was mean as a snake in the morning and didn’t cooperate in the least. If my brother was lucky, I would drink some coffee and then I was a little nicer. I was seven and there were no Starbucks so he would boil water for me to have some instant coffee. I’m thinking about now that he was way too nice to me.
Once this ordeal was past and I had dressed, he would try to hurry me along so we wouldn’t be late for school. I would put up a fight every morning and try to get out of going but he managed to get me there. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make sure that I stayed. He would walk me to my class and see me inside and then go upstairs to his classroom. I would wait for a few minutes and if it was a morning when Mrs. Oliver, my second grade teacher, was out of the class for some reason, I would sneak out and leave the school and walk the seven blocks to where my mother worked at the dry cleaners. I can’t even imagine now what it must have been like for my poor mother and my brother wondering what I would do next.
My mother would call the school and let them know that I was with her and then some days she would walk me back to school and some days she would let me stay with her at work. I’m not sure whether I disliked school that much or whether I wanted to be with my mother, but I was a terror. Thankfully, I managed to grow out of that (or somewhat anyway).
All of this came to mind this week when I was going through some things and came across a drawing that my brother sent me a few years ago. It’s a simple stick figure drawing with him dragging me by my hair and a caption, “Come on, June, we’ve got to get to school.”
Ah, memories. For some reason, this just struck me funny and I laughed until I cried. I guess my brother earned his spot in Heaven putting up with me. That’s why whatever he’s done or failed to do over the years, I can only see the brother that combed knots out of my hair and dragged me to school. He’s not much on sending cards or calling on birthdays and always apologizes for that but I just draw out of that bank of memories if I ever feel slighted and so far, he’s still way ahead.