My Brother’s LIfe Journey Chapter 4


2007–present, notice that the curved lines are...

I remember Christmas the following  year. Al got a train set. It had a soft whistle. I think Mom and Dad were hoping to calm his fear of trains. The track went around the Christmas tree and I can still see Al laying on the floor watching the train go round and round. When Dad made the whistle blow Al did not cry.

Mom and Dad were very smart in this idea. It worked and in time Al became less and less afraid of trains. Our entire extended family spent Christmas together. I still have photos of my two cousins in their new striped bib overhauls. The silver tinsel tree is standing in the background.

The  next year Dad received an inheritance from a family member who passed a way. He and Mom decided it was time to move our family out to the country. I didn’t realize exactly what that entailed. I was excited because I was going to get my own bedroom.

Al and I had slept for a year or two in the same bedroom in bunk beds. Now he and I would be separated by a hallway. When the house was finished, it seemed that Al and I parted a little bit.

He stayed in his room a lot and I rode my bike in the summer and went sledding in the winter . Al did eventually learn to ride a bicycle. He was so proud and he would ride up and down the country road. He would have freedom to choose to stop in at Grandma’s house or ride back home.

I should add that our Grandparents sold their city home and bought 80 acres and a home. It was shortly after our parents built a house a quarter of a mile down the road. Another neighbor that happened to live in the same city block that we all did also bought a house on the same road.

I always laugh when I think back to how four neighbors living in the same block and not all related ended up buying or building all within walking distance and remained for years to come.

Al was now 11 and I was 12. This is the year that started the big change for my brother. Our Granddaddy was in seventh heaven having the dream of farming come true. I can remember watching baby calves and piggies being born.

Granddaddy had the patience of a saint. He took Al with him everywhere he went on the farm. He taught him about life. He was silent while Al worked at becoming more vocal. Dad was already showing that he was uncomfortable around Al. I always believed that Dad carried guilt from our birth years and also shame that his one son was not like other sons.

Carrying these feelings caused great stress in our family. Then Granddaddy would come along and swoop Al up and take him to a calmer environment. While he taught Al and me how to pick up baby chicks, he also taught us how the circle of life works with farm animals.

We bottle fed new calves, we gave water to baby chicks. Al even laughed out loud as the baby lamb drank milk from the bottle Al was holding. We were shown how chickens laid eggs and then how chickens ended up on our kitchen tables. We were taught that calves were grown to feed us and to also purchase more farm animals.

Granddaddy taught us that living off the land was the only way to go. I will always treasure these times and Al still talks about Grandma’s big, soft, chewy sugar cookies. They were as round as  grapefruit. If we were real good we could have two at one time. Sometimes Al got three but I understood what Grandma was saying. Al was skinny and needed to eat.

She made the best ever potato salad too. Lots of big pieces of boiled eggs in it. She used mayonnaise in hers and Mom used a vinegar sauce in hers. I preferred the sweeter one and still love my sweets today.

I remember one time when Granddaddy was cleaning out the barn where the cows lived. He was cleaning the manure with his pitch fork. Al wanted to try it and so Granddaddy handed him the pitch fork. Al wasn’t too strong at this point yet and he got a fork full and then fell right in it. He started to cry and Granddaddy laughed him right out of his tears. All three of us got a good laugh over this and Grandma got stuck cleaning Al up.

These farm loving Grandparents were not our blood relation, but I can tell you that they were the best ever, and  when you talk about them to Al today,  his eyes always light up, and for his memories that he still has of them I will be forever grateful.

Since three families lived on one big property there was a great big garden. All summer long canning and freezing was done. Al got the jobs of taking garbage cans of corn cobs to the pigs. He had sort of the gopher job, but yet it was one of the most important jobs. While everyone had their hands in food, Al would go get things that everyone  needed.

Sometimes when we worked real hard our Grandparents would take us to the Dairy Queen. We would get great big ice-cream cones. I will share with you something that will tell you a difference between our parents and our Grandparents.

Grandma worked at home, taking care of family and gardens. Our mom worked full-time. Granddaddy was laid back and enjoyed every minute of breathing. Dad was always afraid Al and I would make mistakes so he was always on edge. When Dad was dating our new mom-to-be it was in the fall and early winter. Dad would bring us two kids along but made us stay in the car. He truly did believe that we would make noise. Grandma would yell at him every single time and tell him to go get those kids out of that cold car.

When our Grandparents took us to the Dairy Queen. We all went in and we made messes because by then Al and I were both big gabby mouths. They would laugh at us and talk to us and with us. When we were finished, we all cleaned up and went home laughing.

When Mom and Dad took us to the Flagpole to get ice-cream Mom was antsy because Dad was always on the edge of yelling. She became embarrassed for Al and me as Dad made us stand outside and eat our ice-cream. He didn’t want any accidents.

I always felt bad for Mom. Although it took me many years to bond with her she was an excellent Mom and she cared about us kids. She did the best she could with what she had considering Dad was always a grouch, but she loved him for a long time.

 

28 thoughts on “My Brother’s LIfe Journey Chapter 4

  1. Terry,

    Isn’t it wonderful how the Lord gave you a set of grandparents to love you unconditionally? He knows just how much pain we’re able to bear, and He took great care to give you grandparents who would love both you and Al as you should have been loved.

    The memories you shared tonight brought a smile to my face, and I’m so glad your stepmother loved you too. How sad that your dad didn’t know how to love. It’s that way for so many people. I don’t think they mean to be bad parents or spouses. They just don’t know how to love.

    Thank you so much for opening yourself up to us Terry.

    Much love to you,
    Cheryl

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    • you are welcome Cheryl. I do believe that was my Dad’s problem or disability for a better word. His own parents lacked in showing love and he learned from no one but I always knew inside my heart that he loved the best he could

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  2. I love this story, Terry. It must have been wonderful to live on a farm. I was raised by my grandparents too and created my own farm (meaning I always had animals 😉 Looking forward to the next chapter!

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  3. This is so wonderful, Terry–I feel like I’m right on that farm with you. I think this memoir is a gift to Al and to yourself. I will bookmark this post as you have the past posts linked and hope I can find the new ones as my eyes can only read so much. Can I ever convince you to maybe throw a few categories for your ongoing stories (hint-hint)?! 🙂 I’d hate to miss anything. Glad I found this one!

    You have so many stories that are bigger than WordPress, my friend. I know you have 1 book in the editing process, but have you heard of Lulu (self-publishing)? I have no clue–but bought a text book for a French class via them in my seeing days and have seen bloggers with books via Lulu on their blogs. Food for thought..

    Big hugs… A 🙂

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    • I put this under the category of Parkinson Journey. I didn’t realize you wanted my other posts to be under categories also. I can do this if you would like…….hugs my friend. I have never heard of Lulu. I will have to check it out! Thanks….

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      • Oh, I’m blaming the keratoconus (corneal disease). How did I not see categories! Sorry–now I know. I was just referring to a few things I’ve stumbled upon that are like a series; My Bother’s Life Journey and the novel you’ve posted excerpts on (only caught 1 of those). That was all–no need to change things for me! Lol! Just hate to miss your writing and my vision doesn’t allow me to follow people. Well, I know where to find Al’s story now. 🙂

        Please do check out Lulu or a similar company–this is such a story for the Boomer generation and deserves to be in print. A teacher at my language school published that big French textbook there as mentioned (softback/good quality). I think there are fees up-front if you can’t do the graphics, but I have faith you can do about anything! 🙂 Hugs… A
        http://www.lulu.com/us/en

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      • I am just thankful that you can see. It is obvious that you enjoy reading, whether it be mine or your own choices. If there is anything else I can do to make things easier to find my post, please let me know my dear friend. I will check into LuLu!

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