My oldest brother is visiting. He is seven years older than I am. I can remember when I was a little girl, and my parents were separated, my brother would pack me and my other brother up and take us out to a neighboring town where our mom was waitressing, so we could see her before bed. While we were visiting my mom, we would fold napkins for the tables, and when we left she would give us After Eight Mints which I thought were the fanciest chocolate in the world. My oldest brother would take us home and help us get to bed.
Today we are all going to a baseball game. Baseball has been a big part of my brother’s life. I remember going to watch him play when he was in high school. In grade school, like most young children who are exposed to both fantasy and religion, I believed a combination of the two, and I used to try to use “magic” prayers when it was my brother’s turn to bat in order to help him do well. I would sit there and hum, or recite the same word over again and again, with the full belief that I was changing the course of the game.
I loved my oldest brother, and I thought almost everything he did was “right” and “cool.” I am sure he is the first person in this world that I looked up to. I can remember that he used to keep Reeses Peanut Butter Cups in the freezer and tell us not to touch them. Even though I would open that freezer drawer and stare at that candy longingly, I never took one from his stash. I also remember that he had a pet mouse that he took with him to a baseball game one day and someone accidently killed it. My brother came home in tears. It was one of those times when I wished I knew the right thing to say or do, but I was still pretty young without a lot of emotional resources or experience.
When I was still in grade school, my brother made me a concoction of mouth wash and I’m not sure what else, and told me it was “White Lightening” and that it would give me super powers. I took the potion to school, and would drink it on the playground and then run as fast as I could. The teachers questioned me about it, and took it away from me. They may have even called my parents, I’m not sure. All I knew was that my brother had given me a bottle of super powers, and I was going to use it.
Today as I watch the pitcher warm up his arm, and the first batter step onto home plate, I will be thinking about the young boy who was one of my first caregivers and heroes – a boy who had a lot of responsibility placed on him at a very young age, and never took out the pressure on his younger siblings. I’ll be thinking about him swinging a bat and I might say a few “magic” prayers that this time he wins at something bigger than baseball. I want him to win in love and in life.