My Brother’s Love

Andy with me standing beside him on the basement steps

Andy 14 and Sara 16 in Arizona on vacation with mom and dad

Last night, Randy and I watched the 2012 Women’s Gymnastic Olympics at my younger brother, Andy’s house. He now owns that great old house we both grew up in on Main St. It was an enjoyable evening spent with my old companion, his wife, Cheryl and daughter, Abbie. The U.S.A. Women’s team truly are the Fabulous Fierce Five. When it was over Andy teasingly offered to walk us out to our car. Laughing, I told him I thought we could make it okay on our own. I chattered away to Randy as we walked out the back door to our car. I guess that Andy’s back porch has one more step then I remember, I skipped it and promptly and heavily fell to the concrete landing below. I rammed my head into his garage but what I knew instantly, was that my knees and hands were burning. Sure enough, upon further examination, I had small scrapes on my hand and one knee. But the most damage was done to my left knee. A huge area had a layer of skin totally and deeply removed.

Later, at home, with Randy to doctor and wait on me, the pain and ugly open sore took me back to another time my whole body was covered in scrapes. This incident also involved my old companion and brother, Andy. You see, Andy has always been a special friend to me. The youngest two of a busy family of twelve, we often turned to each other for companionship. There were many times I realized his affection for me as we grew up together but the summer of my sixteenth year, Andy gave me my first real gift of brotherly love and loyalty.

We lived in a small Illinois town but my dad also owned a small farm about a twenty minute drive east of us. We spent many a day on the farm with my dad. Sometimes we were put to work, walking beans, tending the huge acre garden, helping to plant and harvest, and feeding the animals. Between the work we usually always had some time to create adventures. After the work was finished, we could be found climbing the old “monkey trees” in the northern wood,s pausing to quench our thirsts at a little spring nearby. Some days we would dive into the pond and have mud fights. There were  many hours spent swinging on a vine over the creek to drop just as you swung over the deepest part of the swim hole. When our hunger became too powerful as it often did with my dad working long hours and the lunch time sandwiches devoured hours earlier, we would make our way to the huge garden my mother tended. There we could eat all the fresh, raw potatoes, green beans and tomatoes our little tummies could hold. Life was good, we had everything we needed right there on that farm miles from civilization.

As I entered my teenage years, I found I no longer had time to climb trees and wade creeks. I had my driver’s license and a job. “Places to go and things to see” as my mother was fond of saying. Besides, my younger confidante, at fourteen, had discovered girls and was spending  a huge amount of his time on the phone. I felt as if we were growing apart and often yearned for the excitement of our earlier, care free summers. So when he came to me one day begging me to take him and a few of his friends to the farm to ride three wheelers, I readily agreed.

Besides the chance to spend a little time with my brother, I could work on improving my tan while they rode. I slipped a pair of shorts on over my swim suit and donned a beat up pair of sneakers. The boys rode for a while as I dozed in the sun. I could hear the birds chirping and the distant drone of the three wheelers lulled me as  I relaxed, enjoying the peacefulness of my father’s farm. After about an hour the drone became louder and I realized the boys were getting near. I sat up and watched as they pulled all around me. They were heading to the creek to take a dip and wanted to know if I would join them. At sixteen, I was taking pride in becoming a young lady, but the tom boy in me could not pass up the chance to have some fun. Besides, it would allow me time with Andy like the good old days. I agreed with the stipulation that I could drive one of the ATV’s.

We headed down the dusty road towards the bottom lands that held the creek. I picked up speed and the others followed suit. Soon we began racing and because I was the oldest, I was determined to stay ahead of them all. As we made the curve and headed down the steep decline that descended into the bottoms, I felt myself starting to lose control. The speed, the instability of the three wheeler, and my inexperience came together at this moment and I panicked. Instead of applying the brakes, I pushed the gas lever. Totally out of control by now, the three wheeler roared up the steep embankment and flipped over on top of me back to the road. That huge machine and I went into a slide for about twenty five feet.

Andy and the boys were close behind me and were quick to pull the heavy machine off of me. My swim suit had slipped down and my body was scraped from head to toe on my left side. As I stood up, the pressure on my left foot left me wincing and instant pain shot from my ankle. I reached out my bloody right hand to one of the boys for support and, in horror, watched as two of my fingers crumbled with a bone protruding from one of them. At this gruesome sight, the boy paled and turned away, holding his mid section. Andy had turned his vehicle around by now and was quick to come to my rescue and assist me onto his three wheeler.

We had no phone on the farm back then and no way to contact anyone. The nearest neighbor lived a couple miles away. As we sped back to the pickup truck, my eye sight began to dim. I yelled to Andy and he grabbed my arm around him and screamed “Just hold on tight!” He delivered me safely to the truck and helped me into it. By now, I could not see at all. I could hear my little brother’s shaky voice pleading with me to “just hold on a little longer”.  For some reason I lost my ability to speak, I could hear Andy’s panicked voice begging me and praying, but I could not reply to reassure him. I had lost my sight, my speech and my mobility. I couldn’t even raise a hand to pat him. I remember trying unsuccessfully to pull out of the darkness and comfort my frightened rescuer. I could only sit and listen. The sudden loss of so much blood had caused my body to go in to shock.

Later at the hospital, the doctor told me what I already knew. I was very fortunate to have a brother who “kept his head” and acted quickly when the other’s had panicked. I was so proud of my little brother and remembered the tender love and concern I had felt as he came to my rescue. It was at that moment that I realized we were not losing each other. We would go our own ways and take different paths but this day my baby brother had shown  me how deeply implanted love had already become in our young hearts. That special closeness that had been ours in childhood would continue to follow us as we grew.



Some evenings when it’s not so hot and I have my windows open, I can hear the call and laughter of children at play. No music in this old world could be sweeter.  Ahh, childhood, when everything is possible, where there are no limits and you have yet to discover the burdens of life. So many adventures my brothers and sisters and I created. How do I help you to feel the intensity of every magic moment. The burden is great and I am humbled.

Let me start with the smell of the earth. This is the one smell that can instantly take me back to childhood. The heavy whiff of soil and the ground rushing up to meet me as my favorite old cutoffs tickle my legs, the pound of bare feet running across the lush green grass, rushing to get to that old barn. I hear those calls from within, the clubhouse and my brothers and friends await me to come join them? The plans we made, the overnight camp in the far corner of the yard with only a fire and a couple old sleeping bag to protect us, sneaking out to walk through that sleeping little town, feeling like we owned the world, stopping to “borrow” a watermelon or some tomatoes from a lonely old garden that someone else had tended so carefully. Oh the trees we climbed and the creeks we conquered. I hope to share some of these great moments in future blogs. But for now, a poem comes to my mind. A poem of youth and first love, my poem.

Summer Love

I remember you, I do.

Though you were just a boy

And I, a little girl.

You came to call me your friend.

I remember the fast wild rides on your bicycle.

My heart pounding ever fast

As I clung to your sturdy little boy body

The sound of speed surging in our ears.

I hold precious memories

Of campouts in my backyard

The transistor radio turned down low

While I rubbed your back

By the fires soft glow.

I recall the sultry days of a youthful summer

Sneaking out at night

To walk through that sleepy small town

And watch the morning sun awaken it.

I remember the hand holding

And the sweet innocent touches.

I remember scribbling my goodbyes

Onto the snow

And staring up at your window

When you moved away.

I remember the hot tears

And a little girls broken heart.

I remember you, I do.

~Sara Jane~

Here’s To You Dear Lady

I saw a car yesterday with logs of driftwood strapped to the roof. I thought about her. She feared the ocean but loved its gifts; driftwood with its “smooth as an orgasm” surface, odd stones, sand crabs, water smoothed colored pieces of glass, starfish, tons and tons of seashells. Hours and hours she would scour the beach as her love fished for his dream catch. I thought about her and these were my thoughts. Working the flower beds today, I smelled the fresh wet soil. I flashed back to when I was young and working by her side in the gardens of her life, flower, vegetable, rock. She planted and tended them all. So many thoughts and memories swirl in my head. Her motherly smell when I climbed into bed with her and dad after a nightmare, what comfort and peace it brought me. Her absentminded back rubs as I stood by her side while she talked with a friend; I remember hoping she’d never notice I was standing there and let me enjoy that back scratching all day long. But after a while she’d shoo us kids away to give them some adult time. I remember the prayers she prayed with this young teen asking blessing for the future of my unborn son and me. I remember her teaching me how to care and love my baby when I was just seventeen. I remember her stepping back and letting me rise in the night to diaper and feed and rock my crying babe. I know she loved me enough to allow me to be the only mother of my son. I remember her. I love her. She’s the background to my whole life. Here’s to you dear lady, I’m missing you, wishing you were by my side digging the rich soils in the gardens of my life.

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