STORIES OF A TOO YOUNG GRANMA? YEA RIGHT….
BY PATRICIA FOX
The year 2011 ended in a great way, so I thought. My brother, Vicente, who was 3 years older than me got sick at the end of December. I thought all was going to be fine because he was my big brother. He could do anything. He was invincible. He didn't make it, we lost him January 18, 2012. He had promised me that we would not lose another member of our family in 2011. But I guess he knew 2012 would be different. I am devastated. How could this happen? He beat polio, he beat alcoholism, he beat a liver transplant. However, he could not beat loosing his only son who died suddenly. He fell into a major depression and his body stopped working eventually going into liver failure.
How does one recuperate from this? I have an older brother but he is 15 years older than me, we didn't play together. He was a cool guy who had cute friends and never said much to me other than tweak my cheek and smile. I have a younger sister, 9 years younger. I took care of her; we didn't play together I used her as my real life doll.
I never shared dreams or playground stories as I did with my brother Vincent because we created those memories together, they were our story. We would go exploring, he would find an injured bird or cat and we would bring it home so he would nurse it back to health. We would go to the candy store, back in the day, and buy a candy bar and split it. One day we even stole a candy bar, Hersey's chocolate big bar. We were so guilt ridden that when we were walking home we talked about it and suddenly he was trying to make a joke. I don't remember how or why but he said something about petunia. For some strange reason it made us puke. So he said it again and we puked and again he said it and same reaction. Needless to say we puked all the candy bar before we even made it home. Then my mom and dad talked about what they saw on the street leading home and said without a doubt it must have been a drunk guy. Vincente and I just looked at each other and giggled. Only he and I knew what we did and how sorry we felt about stealing.
He knew my nuances and he played them like a fiddle making me cry or making me burst into tears sometimes at the most inopportune times. Like when we would go to church and as soon as the nun was within visual range of us he would say something stupid and I would try not to laugh and made some strange guttural sounds. Then the nun would hear me and just like a stealth missile she would engage her eyes onto mine. I would sit there eyes wide open paralyzed in fear as she floated towards me. At the last possible moment my brother would either drop a thick hymnal book, cough like he was choking or even went as far as gagging like he was about to hurl just to take the attention off of me. Action aborted and nun was now disengaged on me. Once I would catch my breath and gave thanks to be alive I would reach over and give him a pinch on his arm and he would just in turn give me a smirk.
Throughout out lives I knew when he was trying to pull a fast one on me or when he was fibbing by that little smirk. How I miss his smile and his silly jokes. I know have no one to sit across the room and recall the fun things we did. Because we came from a family of 5 siblings we never needed outside friends when we were home because our home was always full of us kids in youth. Then as we all married and had kids of our own the number of people grew even more.
Little by little our family has moved away, my oldest sister passed in 1985. Her daughters moved away as our gatherings were too painful for them to attend. My oldest brother lives far away and my sister moved to Charlotte. This passage of time has turned somewhat sad as we have lost family members. How I miss those carefree days full of laughter and banter. All I now have are memories.
Death can really pull a family apart. I do not know if it the fear of never seeing them again, the guilt of maybe we could have done something to help or change that dreadful day or just the pain one feels when we are together and a void exists where our loved one's position in the family now sits empty. I don't know, I don't understand but a loss affects the whole clan. It is like a picture, where all the brushstrokes and colors whether smooth or strong creates a smooth landscape and the picture is complete regardless of the style. Suddenly this portrait has a tear, does that mean the portrait is different or is it just missing a small piece? Some become closer to try to not let the tear grow and for some the pain is too great to bear and they need to try to erase the picture completely. In our case we seem to try to smash what is left of our picture.