And the thing is ... it's easy to assume that everything changed for the worse.
I don't think that's true.
Here's what I think - Horrible nonsensical things happen, wonderfully sublime things also happen. I'd like to get "stuck" on the amazingly cool stuff.
Thumbing through Momma's picture tin I came across these two mug shots. My brother is sporting a silver cap on one of his top front teeth. The dental idea was that he would get the cap off when he turned 18 and they would "fix" it. I don't know the rationale behind the cap. But ... the cap became part of a top secret communication between my brother and I (or me - idk).
Here's the true story.
We spent a lot of time out (running wild) on our own. (How we survived was an amusing treasure chest of conversations for Tommy and I as we sat in the hospital "surviving" the cancer ordeal, but I digress.) Pete, my older brother who I actually called Petey even after everyone else had to call him Pete, Petey was great. A truly great big brother. Anyway ... busted tooth ... we loved to shoot stuff up in to the air. We were always looking for ways to send stuff aloft (that's why I needed the bow and arrows for Christmas when I was in the fourth grade ... I got quite good at hitting a horizontally located target, but it was really all about shooting straight up. I don't know why. I think it must be part of the reason why I needed to fly though. So ... the busted tooth. We built a launcher with a board and a fulcrum (yeah, like a teeter totter) and the idea was to stomp on one end to launch a rock from the other side. It worked pretty good, but not good enough. The next plan was to leap from the top of the arc from as high up as I could swing - which I did all the time - and land in such a way as to really stomp on the launcher. It took a few tries and a lot of coaching from Petey. I remember him saying "Alright, just look at me and jump when I say go." He was situated just in front of my landing spot. After several failed attempts I finally landed smack dab on the vaulting point. And the rock flew. For about two seconds. Then blood and lots of it. The rock popped my brother in the mouth, busting his lips and breaking his tooth. I'd never seen so much blood coming out of someone's face before. "You're gonna get a spankin' for this." That was the first thing he said. And he wasn't crying, I remember that. He never cried. (Which was a source of pride for him and awe for me.) I don't know what I must have looked like ... sweaty, grimy from the serious playing no doubt, but at the idea of a spanking, probably incredulous since the whole thing was his idea. "Look, we need a story here ... ". And he went on to contrive some tale of falling out of a tree and coaching me on the lie. I was a terrible liar ... meaning, I wasn't good at lying, Momma always knew. "I'm gonna get a spanking for lying." I probably started to cry (like a little sissy girl, lol). You know what he did? He climbed a little ways up a tree with blood pouring down his shirt (seems like it was, maybe not) and jumped down. "There. I fell out of a tree."
Years later he might signal me that he had my back by touching his tooth, the silver one, and winking ... or smirking. Sometimes he might be telling a story and he'd look over at me and say, "It was just like falling out of a tree." It's good to have brothers. And, honestly, even with them gone the memories are ... precious.
My eldest son is a lot like Petey. Same naughty twinkle in his eyes. It's cool how families have such similarities even when the exposure across the generations is lacking. There is a good deal of comfort there.
The picture of me says it was taken in '65, when I was six and Petey woulda been nine. The tooth incident was around this time. Had he survived our younger years he would be turning 59 this year.