It is raining in central Indiana. Since I grew up in northwestern Indiana, this does not surprise me. It is the reason that all I want to do is stay in, drink hot oolong/Jasmine tea and curl up under a blanket with a good book.
Actually, I love the rain. One of my favorite memories is camping with my family in the rain. Sitting in my living room, I can smell the wet canvas and hear the sound of the tent zipper. My brother and I would play Cribbage by the fire, after the rain cleared, or while sitting at the picnic table, under a tarp. He also taught me to play chess. He loved games. I don’t. I have a compulsion to create and, the whole time I am playing a game, I feel I am wasting time when I should be painting. But, I do make an exception for Cribbage and chess and would give a lot to have one more game by the fire.
My brother, David, was under two when our dad went off to war. He, mom and our sister lived with our grandmother during this time. David loved our Uncle Donald. He followed him around like a puppy dog until Uncle Donald DeWitt shipped out. One day, he woke up from his nap screaming. Grandma and mom went running in to comfort him. He told them that Uncle Donald was hurt, and they put him in a jeep, and they drove him into the forest, and he was never coming back. David was inconsolable. My grandmother said, she knew right then that her son was dead. David’s dream was a warning for her.
It was true. Uncle Donald was fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. There was a company in the U.S. that ran out of gunpowder so they decided to try TNT (excuse me if I have the names of the powders wrong). Uncle Donald’s weapon exploded. An ambulance was not available, so they put him on the back of a jeep to take him to the field hospital; through the woods. He was DOA. When they received the death notice, the day of his death was the same day as my brother’s nightmare.
My brother was born six years before I was. I understand he liked to spoil me when we were little. I don’t remember much of that but I do remember that he was always there to listen, when the world seemed to be crushing me. I also remember him reading or listening to music. He would come to dinner with his nose in a book. In fact, one day he came out of his bedroom when mom had company, and the company asked her who the boy was, who was visiting. They had been to our home several times but he was always in his bedroom reading and they had no idea she had a son.
David went off to the Air Force and became a phlebotomist. Mr. Nasty Nice would draw blood, take bodily fluids, and test them. In those days, I believe they just put their thumb over the end of the test tube and shook it up. However, you would incur his wrath if you took a drink out of his water glass.
When he signed up for military service, he got the deal to pick where he would be stationed after basic training. As any sane person would do, he chose Hawaii. He actually spent the last years of his service at Ernest Harmon Air Force Base in Newfoundland. The Air Force has quite a sense of irony, doesn’t it?
After he left the Air Force, my brother worked at a hospital lab in Illinois. His co-worker invited him to dinner one night and introduced him to her daughter, Terri. They married and had four wonderful kids. He was head of the lab at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Hammond, Indiana, until he got involved with computers. It was a passion for him and when he became ill, he was able to work from home as he became more ill.
Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma took his life. He fought it for two years. As the disease progressed and the treatments took their tole, he developed a cough. One of the few things he could enjoy was eating lunch with friends in the hospital cafeteria. One day he was coughing in line and another hospital employee told him, “If you are that sick, you shouldn’t be here.” I kind of understand, but he wasn’t infectious and for the rest of the time he had left on earth, he ate lunch alone in his office. Which was not right either.
People tend to panic on their fiftieth birthday. My brother didn’t. He panicked when he turned forty. This was before they diagnosed his cancer. I joked that he should wait and get upset when he turned fifty. Something in him seemed to know he would never make it to fifty, and he didn’t. He passed away in 1990. I miss him every single day; especially the rainy ones.
Read Full Post »