On his wedding day
Let's start way back in Oak Park, I was about 3. He punched me in the stomach in the foyer. I ran to my Mom and told her. Her response? "Well, what did you do to him first?" Thanks, Mom. (Mom always liked him best. I can relate to that Smother's Brother's routine.) For the record: I was 3. What could I have done to deserve that? I was an angel.
Mom, Dad and little Scotty, 1965
Then there was the time when my parents left him to babysit me. (Really? Thanks, Mom.) He wanted to watch MASH. Now, I later learned that this was actually a pretty funny and good show. But I was about 5, and I thought it was about a monster that would mash you. I am not making this up. I told him I didn't want to watch it. He decided it would be funny to let me believe it WAS about a monster who mashed people. So he told me details of said monster. I cried. He called me a chicken. I can remember running into the dining room to hide from him behind the table. He chased after me, holding me down, yelling "Chicken! The monster is going to mash you!" while he laughed uncontrollably.
There were times too numerous to count when I was in Kindergarten and he was in 6th grade. He was supposed to walk me to school. He would get out of eyesight of our house, then take off running ahead of me. I walked my 5 year old self to school every day. (Mom, this isn't making you look very good.)
There was that one Christmas, where he told me he found my Christmas presents. "Wanna know what you're getting" he asked? "No! I want to be surprised on Christmas morning!" "OK, but you're getting a tape recorder." Sigh. (Kids...Google tape recorder to see what it is.) Another Christmas he made me stand guard at the top of the basement stairs while he removed the padlock on the pantry door with a screwdriver so he could see the presents. Then he made me look at them, too, or else he would tell Mom and Dad it was me. (Now, if you recall, I was just a little kid. It never occurred to me that I couldn't even reach the lock, work a screwdriver and that my parents knew who the troublemaker was!) I believed him and I looked at my brand new baby doll. I was so upset. Because now I knew what my present was. But mostly because it was the ugliest baby doll I had ever seen! I was so worried about how to react when I opened it on Christmas morning.
One of the worst (but now funniest) things is next. He was about 15 which made me about 9 or 10. He came out of his room when I was in bed, but not asleep yet. He was wearing just a jock strap!!! He stood leaning over the banister right outside of my room. He was yelling "Mom" and then asked her some dumb question. She couldn't see what he was wearing, just his head leaning over. I could see his naked butt. In case you weren't aware, seeing your teenage brothers' naked butt is NOT a good thing for a little kid. Plus, I didn't know what a jock strap was and I thought he cut the bootie out of his underwear. It was only years later that I realized what it was! He proceeded to lean over and ask Mom several more dumb questions.
Fast forward way ahead. He was a Dad himself now. He was actually good at it, too! I was in college, we were both adults now. We would have real conversations. I remember him talking about his job working at my Dad's company. He would tell me funny stories about his babies. He would ask my advice on what to buy his wife for her birthday. I will remember FOREVER when he called me at my dorm room just to talk. It only happened once, but I treasure it in my heart like gold.
I had only just begun to get to know him as a person instead of a torturous Big Brother. Then he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia in April of 1989. The average survival rate was 6 years. When I was home on weekends we would talk. He actually cried in front of me, sitting in our parents' living room when they were gone. He told me his fears about dying, not seeing his kids grow up. I never even told my parents this, it seemed too painful for them to know about. We talked about a then-new treatment called a bone marrow transplant. Of course I would donate my bone marrow if I was a match. Unfortunately, I never even had time to get tested. He passed away just 2 months later. Well short of the 6 years that we were dreading. It's funny, in the beginning, 6 years sounded unfathomably short. When he got really sick, it seemed like an eternity. I wish I could have had those 6 years.
Happy birthday, Big Brother!! It's been a long time since I have seen you, but I still think about you all the time! And at least now, I can laugh. And you should probably know that Mom has come a long way :)
In Kentucky, with his son Chris