At the end of last month, I wrote an entry about one of my little brothers and I wanted to share it here with other Pranksters. Normally this is not the type of stuff I share, so getting it down was pretty difficult. I knew if I didn’t do it, it would eat at me until I did. So here it is…
I was at a loss for words, which rarely happens, so I got my son (The Boy) ready for an outing. Which means I handed The Boy off, informing my husband (Gadget Guy) that he needed to take a break, so I didn’t go outside smelling like a gym shoe.
Given the promptness of Gadget Guy’s willingness, I must have smelled pretty bad.
Once I got cleaned up, changed a massive poopy diaper, and got in the car, I decided to go to the mall. I had to take my wedding rings to get cleaned and decided that walking the mall would be as thought-provoking as anything else. Plus, it’s still reaching the low 100′s here in the afternoon, so outside was not an option.
Normally, the mall provides lots of things for me think about: obnoxious teens, people who touch my child without asking, panic attacks in the elevator, using the family bathroom, and the list could go on.
However, this is what caught my attention:
It’s an ornament. I found it in Hallmark.
And this little thing was enough to make me start crying. I was bawling like a baby in the middle of the Hallmark store. My son, who is a 5-month old baby, looked at me like I was a crazy person and the Hallmark lady asked if I was okay.
I muttered something about stubbing my toe, picked up the ornament and paid for it. Then, I high-tailed it out of the mall, as to not make a bigger spectacle of myself. I’m sure you’re wondering how this tiny replica of a 1939 musical fantasy character made me break down like I did.
Sit tight, because I may not make a whole lot of sense here, as I’m already getting teary-eyed at the thought.
I’m the oldest of four children. I have/had two brothers and a sister. I say “had” because one of them died.
Little Brother #1 wasn’t even the one we thought we would lose, but Little Brother #2′s story will have to be shared another day.
Little Brother #1 was a little over two years younger than I was. We grew up together and were bestest friends until we hit puberty. Then we fought, argued and generally didn’t get along. All fairly normal sibling rivalry.
When I went off to college, things between the two of us improved. We appreciated each other a bit more and decided we just needed to agree to disagree and move on.
For the most part, this worked.
Little Brother #2 did things in his own time and in his own way. He had severe ADHD and at 14, decided not to take medication to treat it anymore. He graduated a year later from high school, didn’t go to college, and was (medically) discharged from the Navy. He bounced from one job to another. We were complete opposites in most of those regards, and I had a hard time relating to him.
And he always had a difficult time in social situations which was particularly hard on him. He was a friend to a lot of people, but didn’t have a lot of friends. He was easily taken advantage of. I didn’t understand why he would give so much of himself to other people when they didn’t give him the same in return.
He did excel in dramatics. He was one of the youngest students ever to be inducted to the Thespians Cub when he was in high school. He wasn’t cast often, but tried out for every play and he became the go-to guy for backstage production, lighting, and set design.
People referred to him as Tin Man. I’m not sure where the nickname came from, but he wore it proudly. He had it put on his Letterman jacket instead of his name. It was on his track jersey, the back of his drama t-shirts, and even on his class ring.
In the beginning of 2007, he died.
He was 21.
He was in a car accident, but it wasn’t drugs or alcohol, thankfully. He fell asleep at the wheel and rolled his car.
If there was anything fortunate about his death, it was that no one else was involved, and the freeway was completely empty when it happened. He was pronounced Dead On Arrival. The Medical Examiner said that it would have been quick and that he hadn’t suffered. I HAVE to believe that. I can’t believe that he sat in pain, I just can’t.
My parents didn’t handle it well. I stepped up to take control of things where they couldn’t. Gadget Guy was a live saver and helped support me while I tried to support them.
Little Brother #2′s funeral was epic. There were almost 400 people in attendance. It was amazing to see the sheer number of people crammed into the small chapel as I gave his eulogy. And after the burial we had a huge party in his honor.
In the end, all those people that my brother was a friend to came to say goodbye.
To honor his memory, and celebrate the one thing he loved the most, my parents had “Tin Man” engraved under his name on his headstone.
Now, I can’t watch the Wizard of Oz without crying. I can’t even look at an image of the tin man without choking up.
That is why I was bawling in the middle of the Hallmark. I didn’t even keep the ornament.
Instead, I gave it to my mom.