On the eve of my oldest brother’s birthday I must consider the pivotal role that he served in saving my life, in more ways than he probably realizes. My brother was the conduit to showing me the power that words could hold on those who might be on the receiving end of them.
When we were kids my brother would keep a journal that I would find, regardless of where he endeavored to hide it in his room. When I was assured of his absence I would drink the words from the pages, being swept from the travails of what plagued me as the middle child.
The prose, emotion and the unvarnished honesty that was contained in the pages led me to create my version of a journal, even though I felt that it paled in comparison, I continued unruffled, the seed for writing was something he planted and cultivated. I admired him from afar and up close. In trying to take my cue from him, more often that not I fell short. I soon realized that his unselfishness was trait that I didn’t possess at the time.
The trips that we took downtown to Aladdin’s Castle,
to the library and various places throughout Chicago on the buses and the “L” were priceless, as my eyes were opened to the majesty that was Chicago. Whether it was real or imagined, I always felt as if had time to spare for me, but when he made the decision to join the Navy, I felt as if the bottom had dropped out of my world, with a heavy heart I recall, wondering when I would see him again.
Not long after he left, I received the first letter that he sent me from basic training and we started a campaign of writing back and forth on a weekly basis. I looked forward to mail being delivered so that I could regale myself of his adventures on the other side of the world, often I would re-read the letter several times for effect.
In retrospect the joy, the peace afforded in writing and crafting words to harness what I felt surging through me started at that point and that is a debt that cannot be repaid. I am grateful because he set an example that gave me pause. Growing up many of the actions that I took forced me to look at through the prism of… Is this something that my brother would do?