Thursday, October 20, 2011

Memories of Scott

Today, Oct. 21, my brother Scott would have been 48 years old.  He was 5 1/2 years older than me.  He was a typical Big Brother.  Most of my memories of him are of his torture of me.  Of course, now that I am a grown up, I find it all pretty funny!

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

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Who I met in Charlevoix

A few weeks ago we got a great Groupon deal for a hotel in Charlevoix.  2 nights at the Weathervane Terrace Inn, a quaint hotel on Lake Michigan.
We planned to go in celebration of our 19th anniversary.  We bought it rather hastily, not really thinking it through.  It had to be used in October, no weekends.  After the purchase, I realized that I am now working many evenings at Target.  Plus we just got back from a week with the family in the Smokies.  What were we thinking?  I didn't know how this could work.

I got my work schedule and had a Monday and Tuesday evening off, so we booked it.  Brad had to work that Monday, though, so we couldn't even get to Charlevoix before 9pm.  And I had to work Wednesday evening so we couldn't stay long on Wednesday.  I was so disappointed that we had even purchased this.  I mean, to drive 4 hours and only really have one day to do anything?  Brad was much more optimistic (as usual.)  He thought it would be great.

I thought back to some great messages at Kensington Community Church.  I wondered, what does God have in store for me?  He generally makes good things happen when I am least expecting it.  What does He want me to see?  Who does He want me to meet?  Must be some reason this is happening when I don't even really want to go now.

We left at 5 on Monday and get this....we TALKED to each other for almost the whole 4 hours!  Not serious "let's talk about us" type stuff.  Just TALK.  I like that guy!  He is so smart, funny and interesting.  We talked the whole time we were together.  We walked along the pier overlooking Lake Michigan and across the street on Round Lake where we peeked into people's giant yachts (which, for the record, Brad was opposed to.  Just in case someone was in there!)  We went into little shops, bought a few souvenirs.  We walked a few blocks away to see the "mushroom houses," which are not where they grow mushrooms.  (But come on, hotel clerk, it was a valid question!  I refuse to feel silly for asking.)  We held hands, discussed our hopes for our future, and dreamed of living in one of these unique homes.

We had a really great morning, lots of walking and talking.  We went back to the hotel to get ready for lunch.  Brad was reading one of those tourist magazines about area dining and noticed some great places about 1/2 hour away in Harbor Springs.  It would be a beautiful drive along Lake Michigan, lots of fall color.  So we left quaint Charlevoix, a bustling town even during a fall weekday, full of great eats.  We drove to Harbor Springs which was...a ghost town.  Hardly any cars.  Most stores were either closed for the season, or closed and for lease.  We looked for these amazing restaurants, finding none.  We found one ratty bar with a rather expensive menu and kept looking.  Nothing to be found.  Back to the ratty bar.  We opted for burgers, but since they were $9.95 each we decided to share.  We could always eat ice cream later to make up for it :)
I said, "It will be one of those giant, greasy bar burgers anyway!  It will be enough."  So the meal came, and the burger, when cut in half, was about the size of a slider.  And the fries were not great.  Worst of all, the atmosphere was awful in that place!  Dark, dingy, dirty.  We ate our $10 burger in about 3 bites and were kicking ourselves for leaving Charlevoix, where we came across a gourmet burger joint that boasted of grass fed, local beef.
Right near the car was one of only a few stores actually open.  It was Spice House which sounded like a good place for someone who loves to cook.  I loved it and almost immediately found the cutest owl salt and pepper shakers.  They were mine, I HAD to have them.  Brad was like "You like owls?"  Really?  He must have forgotten last year when I would stare for hours at a webcam of the owls Molly and McGee and their babies.  When I say hours, I am not exaggerating.  I should say days.  Weeks.  He once came down at 2 am to see if I was coming to bed.  "As soon as McGee comes and brings his family a rabbit, I will be there."  It was an obsession.  So we bought the S&P and a great burger spice mix (too bad that bar didn't have any!) and headed back.  Brad was mad at himself for what we missed out on in Charlevoix.  But the way I see it, I wouldn't have the cutest salt and pepper shakers ever made!

Our afternoon was spent aboard the Keweenaw Star on a 2 hour cruise around Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan.  Amazing.  Just us and about 50 senior citizens!  A tour bus full, with visors on, canes, white hair (oh wait...thatwhite hair was Brad's.)  Then a really good dinner at a cool bar, followed by watching the sun set behind an ugly cement factory on Lake Michigan.  (If you just squinted, it looked like small mountains.)

We stopped in Frankenmuth on our way home, a favorite city of mine.  We had the chicken dinner at Zehnder's, but downstairs in the cheap area!  We went to Bronner's, NOT a favorite place of Brad's.  He suffered through it for my enjoyment.  I could have spent at least an hour more, we didn't even see half of it.  But it satisfied us both that way.

So after reflecting on that question of mine to God: who do you want me to meet?  I found the answer.  It was my very own husband, Brad.  After 19 years of marriage (plus 4 before that of dating), he is still the great guy I fell in love with.  He loves me no matter what.  And that is what God wanted me to know.