Tuesday, October 19, 2004

I thought of Bart tonight

I'm not going to use names alot on this blog. I decided early on to go with initials only. But now I'm going to break my rule.

I thought of Bart tonight.

Maybe it was because of a line in the play I saw that spoke of how much love a brother had had for another. Or maybe it was because a friend of mine lost a child through miscarriage this week and so death was on my mind. Or maybe it was because it was just time to think about him again.

Sometimes weeks . . . even months go by and I don't do him that honor. And so tonight, I wanted to remember him and do so "publicly" even if no one is reading this thing. At least tonight, his spirit is alive on this page.

Bart, my older brother by three years, died almost ten years ago. I actually had to think a while to determine if that's correct, but it is. He would be amazed at all that's happened in the last decade. The two that would devastate and delight him most (as far as connections to my world) is that I divorced (he was a very good, very conservative Baptist who was troubled by the women deacons we had in my previous church) and the Houston Oilers went to Tennessee, our home state.

The former would devastate him only because it would seem some how wrong to him and he didn't want bad things to come to me, to anyone. He would have had a hard time understanding it. But, I know, he would have accepted my act and he would never have made me feel less than, or judged.

The latter would have thrilled him only because it would have been more fodder for harrassment. And that man loved to pick at a person. Not just me, actually, he was pretty tame with me. But his children, his brother (my twin), my then-husband, my mom . . . he loved to push their buttons with a smile on his face and a pretend cigarette in his fingers. He had this odd practice of holding his fingers in such a way as to suggest he was smoking and even going so far as to inhale and occasionally stamp it out on the floor. I write this and think, that sounds strange no matter how you phrase it but he did it and it was amusing and I always smile when I think of it.

He was not concerned with fashion. The only thing I wanted when he died was one of the many colorful windbreakers he wore over a while cotton button down with a color coordinated fabric and mesh baseball hat. His "ensemble" was completed by a pair of blue work pants. As a postman in a small town, his "uniform" was informal but standardized.

The funeral for Bart include a "viewing" from about 6 p.m. until well past when it was supposed to have ended. Our hometown only had about 2000 residents and they all came. At least it felt like it.

He was one of those "never met a stranger" guys. He would start off with a grin (and his was a grin, not really a smile) and then ask a few questions, find your vulnerable spot and start the picking. If he liked you. If he didn't, he'd be polite, always the gentleman, but there was little time for picking. He gave of himself freely, but quietly, and we heard many stories we'd never heard from him about his generosity and compassion the night before we buried him.

He was a smart man but he didn't like the college life and left before finishing his degree. He had simple needs -- be a good husband, father, and church member. I think he succeeded at all three.

I vividly remember a Christmas eve where he was determined to make a memory for his then five year old twins. By the time I got to his house, they were watching TV and he was in the kitchen faking righteous indignation that his green icing was sliding down the side of his inverted sugar cone "trees" and the kids had already eaten most of the M&M ornaments that were supposed to have been used as decorations. I don't know that the kids got a Christmas memory out of the experience, but I certainly did as we laughingly cleaned up the mess and lamented that Ward Cleaver he was not.

We never agreed on much politically, spiritually, religiously, or socially. But we did agree that we could love each other as we disagreed. He was a man of peace, often the peacemaker in our little disfunctional family, and even though he was only 13 when our dad died, he never complained that early on mom turned to him as the man of the family.

I think of his kids . . . one loves music, the other is probably heading for a career in medicine, and the third -- the one born after his death -- is so very much like him, even down to the grin . . . and I know that he would be very proud. I have a bit of a pang that he won't get to play out the role he was probably most right to play -- grandfather.

And yet, while I do have the occasionaly pang, I don't fret for him. He would have abhorred that. Ever the pragmatic, he would be good with the fact that his beautiful wife remarried and has a wonderful life and would want that life, indeed, has gone on.

Still, I don't want it to go on at such a pace that I forget. He's too good a memory. So I thought of Bart tonight. And now I feel better.

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