My oldest lil’ brother came down to spend the winter with Mom. I’m so thankful that he’s here while Mom is ill, for I have to tend to things here at my house, too, and she’s an hour north of me.
His father was my stepdad #1. To say that stepdad #1 was an evil bastard would be insulting to evil bastards everywhere. There were probably all sorts of diagnoses that could be applied to him by a psychiatrist, like psychopath, but maybe I’m just bitter. We came to an agreement when I was a teenager that if he beat me again I was going to kill him. I have to admit that I did go out of my way to be a pain in the ass because I was stronger than my mom and lil’ brothers. As long as he was hating me and scheming to make my life more miserable, he wasn’t bothering them. I’ve always had a strong protective streak.
By the time I was 18 and graduated from high school, my stepdad was *very* anxious for me to leave. My oldest lil’ brother was 15, and my youngest was 12. When I walked out the door for the last time as I went off to basic training, I didn’t know that for the next 35 years, I could count the number of times I would see my oldest little brother on one hand with some fingers left over.
He dropped out of school and ran away within a year after I left. I never found out why. I just assumed my stepdad was up to his old tricks and my lil’ brother was better off away. I didn’t know how right I was until this year.
Lil’ brother said that he’d been up on the roof of the barn putting on a new metal roof, and it had gotten crooked. He couldn’t see it from as close as he was. When his dad started screaming and cussing him about it when he came down, my lil’ brother said “Well, you were down here and were supposed to be watching. Why didn’t you say something?” Stepdad threw down his beer, grabbed a hammer, and swung it full force at my lil’ brother’s head. Lil’ brother jumped out of the way. Stepdad chased him, trying to hammer his head in. Stepdad’s brother, lil’ brother’s uncle, grabbed stepdad by the arm and kept him from killing lil’ brother long enough for lil’ brother to get away.
“Ohmygawd!” I exclaimed to lil’ brother. “He was really going to kill you!”
“Yep. Figured I’d better not stick around and let him.”
While most kids were trying out for the football team, my lil’ brother was sneaky killing geese in the park and cooking them over a fire to keep from starving to death. He worked on fishing boats and in construction. He worked on the railroad and at a turkey processing plant. He grew and sold marijuana. He got in trouble with the law. He had a drug and alcohol problem for years. He got married and got divorced. He has two daughters that think the world of Daddy.
You might think that with all the bad things that have happened to my lil’ brother, including losing everything again when the housing market and construction industry crashed, he’d be angry or bitter. Not so. He’s one of the kindest people that I have ever met. I am grateful for the opportunity to get to know him as an adult.