Selecting a B-word for today’s challenge was … a challenge. I had so many themes bobbing around in my brain – everything from Baubles to the Toronto Boardwalk, but I finally settled on something near and dear to my heart – my brothers.
I was blessed with 2 older brothers. Our age differences meant that I wasn’t particularly close to them growing up. As a child, I viewed them more like demi-gods while I suspect I barely registered on their radar. They were quite different in personality and temperment. The oldest was quiet, thoughtful and soft spoken while the second son was the bad boy of the family. Because he had a knack for making virtually anything funny, Brother #2 could usually charm his way out of his various shenanigans.
This was the brother who taught his 2 younger sisters to play poker one Hallowe’en and then proceeded to clean up on all their loot from trick-or-treating. Mom was not amused and made him return our candy. I don’t think I’ve played poker since.
One day he came home with an old hearse he had bought – complete with the velvet interior and rollers in the back. Mom was mortified and wouldn’t allow him to park it anywhere near the house.
This was the same brother who accidentally set my hair on fire when he was tinkering with the flame setting on a lighter. It could have ended badly if he hadn’t acted quickly. I didn’t know what happened to me until he clobbered me in the back of the head with a towel to kill the spreading flame. He gave me a whole new definition of dry and damaged hair. Our poor long-suffering mom was clearly not amused.
Ironically, he eventually became a volunteer fireman. Early in his firefighting days, he was always full of funny stories about the dumb things other people did – until one day karma caught up with him. He was behind the wheel of the fire truck when they arrived at the scene of a burning building. In his haste and excitement, he leaped out of the truck without putting it in Park. As they were unrolling the hoses, the truck started to roll away on the slight decline in the road. We laughed as he related the story of the chase for the runaway fire truck while his fellow firefighters were hanging onto the hoses in a tug of war with the massive vehicle in an attempt to slow its progress.
My brothers live far away from me now but only a few blocks from one another. Since the passing of both our parents, my relationship with these two men has become stronger. While some siblings get driven apart by petty grievances and childhood jealousies that fester into adulthood, we’ve managed to become closer and kinder with each other.
The oldest brother is still quiet and soft spoken, the second son still fills a room with his booming voice and endless storytelling, and I still look up to my big brothers with a sense of awe and a great deal of appreciation.