Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oh, Brother!



When I was born, I was lucky enough to have a big brother here already. He'd had two years as an only child when I showed up and changed that status.  Maybe because I wore his hand-me-downs and played cowboys and Indians and cops and robbers and Batman and Robin with him, he once told me
 "You are a girl, but you are still my brother."
I considered that the ultimate compliment.
He also told me that the weed that grew by our front steps was a Chicken Pox plant and I better not touch it or I would get the pox.
I considered that sage advice from my all-knowing big brother and steered clear.
He assured me that I would not see the devil's face if I dug too deep in the sandbox,
and pronounced the neighbor kid who told me that a liar.
I slept a little easier after that.
That's what big brothers are for.

One day, when I was 3 and he was 5 we were told we were going to get shot.
At least that's what I heard.
 My Dad packed us in the car and took us to the local grade school where we stood at the back of a long line. I began to cry hysterically because I couldn't believe our own father had brought us to this place to be shot. Jon tried to comfort me with pats on the shoulder and the ridiculous cheerful good news that
"They'll give you a sticker afterwards!"
What good would that do us when we were dead?!
As we got closer my worst fears were confirmed when I saw a big burly man in a white coat holding a gun! Jon bravely stepped up and pulled up his sleeve.
You can't imagine my relief when I saw he was still standing after the pop.
He smiled at me and I decided getting shot may not mean what I thought it meant.
So I calmed down enough to get my rubella shot. And lived to tell the tale.
(Yes, for whatever reason, this shot was administered with an air gun of some kind.)



As we grew up, he went first for other things and made me feel brave when it was my turn.
Like school.
Jr. High seemed especially scary to me. But Jon had been there for two years before me and was a big 9th grader when I showed up as a timid little 7th grader.
One day I was in the hall of good old O'Leary Jr. High desperately trying to open my jammed locker.
Jammed because I had shoved my viola in there earlier and it had fallen against the door.
I was going to be late for class and I could not get it opened.
I was near tears when I saw my big brother coming down the hall.
He saw my predicament and  walked over,
as his very grouchy math teacher yelled,
"Get to class young man!"
He gave the locker a smack with his hand and yanked it open,
He caught the viola as it tipped out and handed it to me,
then turned around and walked calmly  past the scowling teacher and into his math class.

He went to the church dances first and when I was finally old enough, I made him teach me how to slow dance. He tried to reassure me that the technique was a two-step process:
Stand there and sway back and forth.
Yeah, he was right.


He also went to Orem High first and learned to drive first.
He only let me drive his beloved 1963 Studebaker once.
I was still practicing and had to drive with a licensed driver.
I drove a few blocks and it started to rain. He decided that I couldn't drive in those conditions.
So he had me pull over and trade places and he drove us back home.
I consider it a triumph that I got to drive it at all.

He went through a Beatles phase and since our rooms were right next to each other in the basement, I heard quite a bit of the Beatles. I expressed to him my distaste for their so-called hit "Come Together" about toe jam and hair below his knees, got to be good lookin' cuz he's so hard to see,
something, something, disease....
(I know kids, I really can't mock the nonsense lyrics of your day after this)
He took this as his cue to turn up the radio full blast every time it came on.

Not long after Jon got back from his mission, I sent off a missionary. One day I was riding somewhere with Jon and we drove past the guy's house. I started to cry because I was missing him.
Jon said,
"Don't worry, you'll be here when he gets back and he'll shake your hand,
and then shake your husband's hand and pat your little boy on the head."
It made me laugh and I dried my tears.
Well, one Mother's Day some time later, I was at Grandma Hansen's house. That guy came to see her. He 
walked in, shook my hand, shook Andy's hand and patted Scott on the head.
Then he sat down and swapped mission stories with Andy like they were old friends.
So, my brother was right.


I did get the opportunity to pay him back for all of his brotherliness. I happened to play a big part (that's the way I like to tell it anyway) in his winning the love of his life. We moved from one side of Orem to the other and that meant a new ward (OK, one block would have meant a new ward!). I was welcomed warmly into the ward by the Mia Maid class. One in particular was very friendly, a pretty blond named Shellie. She wrote me a long note expressing the fact that she thought my brother was something (cute maybe?). As fate would have it, I had a hole in my coat pocket and the note slipped out and fell right in front of my brother's bedroom doorway. So, he picked it up and read it. Then, he told me to tell her that he liked her too.
So I was their accidental love courier.
It was so romantic and so Jr. High.
They defied all the odds and stayed together through high school (except for that 10 minutes at youth conference) and she wrote to him while he was on a mission in Japan.
The mailman delivered those letters.
And then they got married.
And they've been married ever since...a few months less than me and my husband.
That's one thing I did first.

Happy Birthday Big Brother.
Let's get old...
You  first.

No comments: