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My Brother Rick

May 18, 2008

 

 

Slice of Life Sunday is a meme dedicated to preserving the accounts of events cut out of the lives of average people just like you and me from all over the world. And like having ice cream with your pie, there is more to this meme than meets the eye – it’s a meme a` la mode . I hope you will join me and share a Slice of your Life.

 

A friend is a brother who was once a bother.  ~Author Unknown 

 

My brother Rick (aka Raymond Richard –yes another family nickname) is five years younger than me. I find it interesting these five years in age difference seemed to have disappeared as we have gotten older. As siblings trying to find our way in a somewhat dysfunctional family, those five years represented a lifetime.

 

 

My very first real memory of Rick is about his ears, or ear I should say. He was three years old and had some type of ear infection that not only affected his inner ear, but also the outer lobe. I remember mom always kept his entire head wrapped in a bandage. We three older loving sisters affectionately called him “mummy boy” which would make him cry. Of course we would receive a tongue lashing from mom, and sometimes a whip lashing for our teasing, but it was just too much fun to resist. The teasing ended from me when mom requested my help in changing Rick’s bandages one afternoon. My stomach still gets a little queasy thinking about what I saw when those bandages came off. His ear was completely raw – absolutely no skin! I was so repulsed by the site I vomited into the pan of water mom had for cleansing his ear. Yes, that was the last time I teased him about his ear and the last time I had any thoughts about being a nurse when I grew up.

 

Another very vivid memory of Rick involves my older sister Toupey. I should begin by saying there was no love lost between the two of them as children or, for that matter, as adults. Throughout our childhood, those two fought – both verbally and physically. One such argument, the summer when Rick was 9 and Toupey 15, escalated to a level in which knives were brought out to see which one was the toughest. Being the coward, especially when violence was involved, I ran to the bedroom and hid under the bed until I heard the sirens. It seems their knife-fight ended up out in the yard and a concerned neighbor called the police. My parents, who were both at work during this escapade, had to appear in Juvenile Court with my brother and sister. Needless to say, they were not pleased. Some good things do come from being a coward.

 

Other than those two memories, my brother seems to not have been a part of my life growing up. An early marriage at 16 caused me to leave home, thus I have no recollection of his teenage years. I was even surprised to discover by way of looking at a picture album that he was an usher at my wedding. I actually have more childhood memories of interacting with some of our cousins than with my brother. As I said, we lived a lifetime a part as children. I am so grateful to say that has changed in the past ten years.

 

As adults in our 20’s, 30’s and into our 40’s, we remained holiday siblings. I rarely saw or spoke to my brother unless it was at a family holiday dinner at mom and dad’s. It is not that we were mad at each other, or that we didn’t like each other. It was more to do with both of us deciding to not play the game of winning mom’s love. As children, mom always pitted her children against each other with her love and approval as the prize. I actually quit playing the game long before I left home and was definitely not going to be a part of the madness as an adult. Rick obviously made the same decision and kept his distance except for the required appearances. This was really quite a feat since Rick lived next door to my parents for more than fifteen years.

 

Dad and Rick were always close. They would work on cars, or one of their houses, or on some project. Rick had moved to the country about a year before mom died. After mom died, I moved in with my dad to look after him. He was 73 and although he still was able to do pretty much what he wanted, he needed my companionship. With the exception of a few times, Rick has come to see and work with dad every Sunday for the past ten years. Sometimes he is here for the morning and sometimes he spends most of the day. Through these weekly visits, my brother and I have become acquainted. The past couple of years, dad has been unable to work an entire day with Rick. His need to take a nap has created a time for Rick and me to talk and share our thoughts, our feelings, and grow our love.

 

My brother recently displayed his true commitment to “family” late last summer when he and his wife let my younger sister move in with them. Joy-Joy had a series of strokes the previous winter, thankfully with no physical side affects, but was left with the loss of her memory and the onslaught of Alzheimer’s. Her alcoholic-abusive husband left her after 35 years of marriage because she could no longer financially support him and his habit. She moved in with our older sister for a brief time, but their lifetime of competition and jealousy ended the living arrangement quickly. She has three sons, all of whom refuse to let her live with them, due to many unforgivable deeds she had done to them. Dad and I did not have a bedroom for her in our home, and to be honest, due to many unbelievable acts of cruelty on her part towards me over the years, I did not have room in my heart to take her in either. Although I knew she and I could never live together for a long period of time, I could not stand to see her with no place to live. She was sleeping on our couch while I was in the process of helping her work with the “system” to make living arrangements at the County Home when our brother stepped in. Rick and I talked at great length about the problems he and his wife would face by having Joy-Joy live with them. She had been cruel to them also. His final thought was, “I have a spare bedroom. I could not live with myself if we didn’t at least try to help her. Grandma would roll over in her grave if I let Joy-Joy go to the County Home with me having room.” So, Joy-Joy has a home.

 

Yes, my little brother grew up to be the man of the family. I am so proud to be his sister.  

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2008 6:10 pm

    Funny how our relationships with our siblings change as we get older. I can identify with most of what you’ve written. There’s 4 years between me and my brother and our relationship has followed a very similar path to the one you describe with your brother.

    ~~Thank you for stopping by. Yes, it is strange how relationships change. I remember being so concerned about what “my friends” in high school thought, but a couple of years out of high school and they were not a part of my life anymore. But, relatives will always be your relatives. Cricket

  2. morgansvoice permalink
    May 19, 2008 1:07 am

    🙂 Each of my brothers are 5 years from me, one older and one younger. 🙂 Loved this slice of life. I’m going to participate again this week! 🙂

    ~~Hi Morgan – good to hear we will have a Slice of Life story from you soon. I will look forward to reading it! Cricket

  3. May 19, 2008 1:00 pm

    Does your family read this blog? You’re so candid and honest! My siblings and I are far apart in age too and my sisters and my relationship came as we grew up also. Not so much as children. My brother was always there so he and I had more of a relationship growing and less as adults when we both had our families and don’t live close anymore. My Dad traveled with his job so my siblings were more like the other parent to me when I was growing up except for randy. When I grew up and no longer needed the parent relationship, we slowly built that sibling relationship. I guess we’re functional….LOL

    ~~Hi Jen, No my family does not read my blog because I have not told them I write one. To be honest, I doubt they would read it even if they knew. I do think my son and my daughter-in-law would read this, but I like having a source to write my feelings and my memories without having to gloss over imperfections. He knows I write, but I haven’t given him the address. Cricket

  4. May 19, 2008 4:31 pm

    Reading about your memories of your younger brother reminds me how birth order shapes family interactions. I’ve written of my older brother previously at Small Reflections for a Fun Monday post a few weeks ago A Hero in My Life.
    Hugs and blessings,

    ~~I have often thought about reading books about birth order, but have not so far. I do have heard quite a lot about what has been written and do believe there is a connection to birth order and roles in a family. I have tried twice to read your A Hero in My Life story but havn’t been able to get in. I will keep trying. Cricket

  5. May 25, 2008 9:54 am

    It is good to hear your brother was able to take your sister in. Things sure don’t turn out the way we expect, do they? Families can be a blessing but also such hard work. Thanks for sharing this story.

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