Posts Tagged ‘siblings’

As soon as my brother uttered the words, I smiled and shook my head.  Once again I was proven right.  I may feel compelled to put my words out into the world, but it is my brothers who are the poets in my family.  In this case, my youngest brother was simply sharing his growing understanding of what it means to be a father — the ups and downs and everything in between.  And with this understanding he was able to look into the past from a different perspective.  “I remember,” he said, “walking towards Pop.  He was sitting in that chair, lost in thought, tilted over, looking like a dandelion without light.  I don’t know which of us he was worried about that day or if he was sitting there wishing he’d done some things differently in life or maybe he was just missing Ma.  But then he saw me and he straightened up and he smiled.  It was like the sun had come out.  I was his light.  That is what my son is like for me.”

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We spoke by phone.  I sat in my kitchen in Somerville, MA while my younger brother sat outside his home in Lynchburg, VA.  After I had described my latest walk by the water and what I might write about, he said, “Mmmhmm.  I think you should write some more about porches.”


“Yes.  About what it’s like to sit on the porch steps at night, in the quiet and in the cool, with fireflies in the distance.  They look like stars.”

I imagined him sitting on his little back porch.  I thought about the seeds I had sent him and his family.  “Next year, I am sending you night blooming flowers.”

“That’s fine,” he said, and then he added, “And you should write about wearing glasses, how we wear them to see clearly, these wire frames that are not heavy but somehow you feel their weight all the time, and if you have long eyelashes you’re constantly batting them against the lenses.  Yeah, there’s always contacts … but somehow when you wear glasses and then you sit and you take them off … you can’t see as clearly and yet there is a certain sense of freedom.  A weight has been removed.  Though your view is a bit blurry somehow you can see with greater clarity the beauty all around.”

“I gave you a blank notebook.  Why don’t you write these things?” I say.

“Because you’re the writer,” he said.

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Once upon a time, I sat in my father’s arm chair while my parents sat side by side on the neighboring couch.  I’m not sure how this seating arrangement happened.  I do remember that in the big chair I was loudly sharing my knowledge of the world.  With each proclamation my parents just nodded or said, “Mmmhmm.”  So I felt completely affirmed in my beliefs, right? But then at some point in the conversation, they denied my request to do something.  I stood up with all the wrath and righteousness of a fifteen-year old and said, “You can say that now since you think I’m a baby, but when I’m 99-years old …”  My mom interjected, “When you are 99-years old, you will still be our baby.”

That story keeps coming to mind as I show pictures of my brother Keith to friends. They are used to my stories of a little boy who planted a seed in a cup.  Or stories of the little boy I used to send to collect dandelions in our empty Easter baskets.  When they see pictures of the small boy now a man who towers over most people, and of the child now a father, they always exclaim, “I thought you said he was little?”  I just shrug and say, “He is little.  He’ll always be my little brother.”

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Drawing by Henrietta Bruce Sharon

Henrietta Bruce Sharon drew this picture for the anthology, Golden Slippers.  When I showed it to a friend his eyes watered and he said, “You should send this picture to your brother.  You and he are who I see in this illustration.”  I have three brothers.  I love them all but I am most close to my youngest brother.  Given that we were less than two years apart, our parents raised us as if we were twins.  He and I have always shared a love of stories, and so, throughout our childhood we spun stories and imagined ourselves at the center of great adventures.  I wrote and he drew.  Even though we see each other rarely these days, we still connect by phone, by email and by illustrated letters to tell the stories of our every day lives.

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