My big brother, Ben, turns 60 this week. Seems hardly possible.
I still remember him as the athletic, devil-may-care teenager I always idolized.
We always were a kind of Mutt and Jeff combination. He bordered on being lanky, and I always was on the stubby side.
While I always was very concerned with following the rules, my brother generally would invite trouble in for dinner.
There was a great disparity in our athletic abilities. This was particularly evident on the baseball field.
My brother is ambidextrous. He can throw with either hand and bat either side of the plate. He had a good arm, could catch about anything and could play any position on the field. He generally played first base.
I, on the other hand, couldn’t catch. I never learned to properly throw a baseball. I throw from the shoulder, which in less enlightened times was termed “throwing like a girl.” I occasionally could connect with a bat, but never during game conditions. I played right field, when they let me off the bench, and I played it pretty badly. But, I really wanted to be like my brother, so I stuck it out for a few years, before finally realizing it wasn’t in my genes to play baseball.
Growing up, we always had each other’s backs and as we got older and our three-year age difference began to matter less and less, we spent more time doing things together. He was, and is, a good big brother. We live too far apart to spend much time together, but we talk regularly and we’re close.
As you can tell, I’ve always idolized my brother. I will close this with my favorite big-brother story.
We were swimming at a country club swimming pool one day. Every time a kid would jump in the pool wearing cuff off jeans, a middle-aged fellow would jump and yell for them to out of the pool. Apparently cuff offs weren’t allowed. I need to point out, this fellow wasn’t a lifeguard or anything. He was just there. My brother, was, I think, 21 at this juncture.
So here’s how I remember things. I went to the concession stand to get something to drink, leaving my back to the pool.
I heard a splash. I heard the man yell “get out of the pool with those cutoffs on.” And I heard my brother calmly reply, “Come get me out, partner.”
I turned and saw the man standing on the side of the pool turning beet red. The woman with him looked amused. My brother looked calm and relaxed standing in the pool.
The man stomped off in a huff to find a lifeguard. My brother just stood there and smiled.
How can you not love a big brother like that!
Robert Shearon is editor of the Poteau Daily News. Write him at P.O. Box 1237, Poteau, OK 74953 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .