Saturday, March 28, 2009

My brother, Jimmy part one

My brother, Jimmy, was a lot of things to a lot of people. He was a natural born comedian who hid an abusive past behind a wall of comedy. He almost never let his tragedy side show.

He was the kid who gave my uptight mother wet-willies, and she would laugh. He was the kid who told our mother that he was growing tomato plants in his bedroom in the middle of winter, and she believed him right up until those plants started growing stuff that didn't look at all like tomatoes. He was the kid that took care of both his older and younger sisters, because he felt he had to be the man in the family after my father moved out. He was the kid who took the brunt of my father's brutality before the bastard moved out.

I remember an exceedingly cold night in which my father had told my brother not to let the fire go out in the living room fire place. Jimmy could not have been any older than 11 or 12 at the time. When my father got home from the bar in the middle of the night, Jimmy had fallen asleep on the couch in the living room, and the fire had gone out. He made Jimmy go out in the snow in his pajamas, bare foot , down a set of stairs, over the driveway and up a hill to get more wood for the fire. I can't put a number on how many other similar situations the kid had to endure.

Jimmy started getting into trouble when he was 12. He started using drugs and alcohol around the same time. They sent him to the military academy for ninth grade where my father had gone to high school. Jimmy hated it and made sure he got kicked out. That was pretty much the end of school for him. It turns out that not only do mental health issues run in my family, but also dyslexia. Back then, they just thought he was stupid. He used to ask me to fill out his job applications for him because his "hand writing was so bad." He was pretty much illiterate.

He was the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. He was funny, he was kind, he was generous. He loved kids, he loved wildlife, he loved to go fishing more than anything else in the whole world. He may have eventually looked the part of a dirty, greasy alcoholic who got into bar fights and did some time in jail, but he was never any of those things to us. To us, he was always the only sweet little boy in a house full of girls. "Excuse me, ladies, but I believe someone left their soiled panties to soak in the sink, and I would like to brush my teeth."

I pretty much adored him. Even when he threatened to break the thumbs of a much older guy who I thought would be dreamy to have for my boyfriend, when I was 13. He taught me how to play baseball and how to throw a football. He taught me basic self-defense, and gave me a knife to carry when he found out I was hitch-hiking.

When I was 16 and finally had a much older boyfriend, he offered to give the guy a ride home. I found out much later that Jimmy had waited until they got to my boyfriends house, pulled out an unloaded gun and put it to the boyfriend's head and asked, "are you sleeping with my little sister?". Apparently, the guy nearly shit his pants, making my brother a much better judge of character than I was, in retrospect....


Cora said...

You gotta love brothers! The things they do for us. They're amazing. :-)

Paige said...

Great story. What a rough time he had to start out--how did he end up?