Tough Stuff

Slice 29

My baby brother moved to Kentucky a while back. He’s my baby brother even though there are 4 of us and he’s 3rd in line. The last one was born when I was 12. The first three were born before my parents were 21. EddieLarryJoey was one word, the way a quick list of kids becomes when constantly rattled off in order. I could write a novel about his journey. But Kentucky is only 4-5 hours from us and he has a reliable car now so hopefully his visits will be more frequent. He’s the funny one. My kids love him and we spent last night, after he arrived, doing what the elders in my family always called “visiting” which pretty much just means hanging out. My daughter and middle guy peppered him with questions about my brothers and I. He answered each question thoughtfully even though it was really just a silly little exercise. 

My daughter asked who was most athletic and he said he didn’t remember much about lots of his childhood, and the middle of the 3 is technically the correct answer – quarterback, 3 sport athlete – but he explained his memory to my daughter in terms she could understand. He said he had a memory like a screenshot in his head of me, her dad, playing football. And went on about how my size and stature conflicted with the position I played and, more importantly in his recollection, the way I played it. Bottom line, he said, was that her father was tough. I know what I know about all of that but it touched me to hear this memory. 

My brothers are all their own people. The one born when I was 12 is fairly obviously the most successful in all walks of life and I’m proud of him. My parents worked a billion hours a week back then and at 12 I did the diapers and laundry and made lunches and such. The middle of the 3, the quarterback, was nicknamed Woodstock to my Snoopy after we moved to Florida because in his shyness it always took him a while to find his own groove (he has). But the baby brother who’s visiting was me. Wanted to be me. I knew it then as I do now. That meant individualism and independence. Close knit friends, and wild living. Only, I left just as he was getting into his formative years. Things derailed for him in ways I was lucky they did not for me. He was not as into academic pursuits as I was, was held back in 2nd grade for what they called a learning disability and what they’d call now severe ADHD. He has had a tough road but has battled back with a vengeance. And from everything he could’ve saved as a screenshot from those times, it’s that I was tough. Phew. 

I just got back from casting up my middle guy’s finger. It wasn’t totally necessary but he didn’t trust himself with just a splint. He’s a lot like my baby brother. He finished the game he broke it in after trying to yank it out when he thought it was just jammed. I then watched him go through about 6 hours of 3 different baseball workouts where he constantly caught 80 MPH baseballs and hit hundreds of balls as hard as he could. Which is hard. I wrote about my middle guy recently. Like me, and like my brother, he does have a sensitive side. But I guess like me, and probably more my baby brother considering all he’s overcome, he’s pretty darn tough as well.

One thought on “Tough Stuff

  1. I loved the way you talked about your kids peppering your brother with questions. You know, it’s a fun thing to watch when that happens. Like, they often know the answers because they always ask those questions – but it’s the telling and the retelling that make it so wonderful. Simply put, I loved this slice. Hoping at some point both your brother and your middle son will get the chance to read it as well. =)


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