Thursday, September 22, 2011

My brother

Today was the thirty first anniversary of my brother's death.  My brother was my half-brother.  We shared the same mother.  He was much older than I was.  If I remember correctly he was sixteen or seventeen when I was born and left for the Army not long after.

He was the one who took my parents's admonitions about being tough to heart.  (My father was his step-father during his late teens and he admired my dad).  He became a fighter and the family protector.  He rescued my cousins that were closer to his age more than once from the perils of growing up in my home town.

This protective streak unfortunately landed him a stint in prison.  But for the young men in prison, it was a blessing.  There were plenty of young men who were spared the horrible prison "initiation" (at least for a while) because my brother was not afraid to fight or spend time in solitary protecting someone.

But I learned of all this after the fact and second hand.  We did not have any of the sort of traditional brother relationships that I have seen with my friends and their brothers.  I did not grow up idolizing him.  I did not grow up being pranked by him.  I did not grow up in conflict with him.

Our relationship was strained by the age difference and by the fact that he was a very physical active person and I was (and am) a very cerebral inactive person.  However he was responsible for two very positive things in my life.  It was he who took me bowling for the very first time, a sport I enjoy to this day.  And when he went into the Army, he left all his comic books at my house.

It was his comic books and Mad magazines I first read those many years ago, the ones which introduced me to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and friends.  I have had an almost life long love affair with superhero comics in general and DC Comics in particular.  And it would not have happened if he had not left those books behind.

I never told him about that, about what he did for me just by that.  It actually took many years for me to even figure out that was what happened as I started reading very very early. By the time I did he was long gone.  But his spirit touched everyone in the family indelibly and if there is a hereafter, I know he knows now what he did for me.

Rest in peace, big brother.

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