He was the Luke to my Leia. We would jump/swing across the abyss that was our neighbor’s walk-out basement path, narrowly escaping Jabba the Hut and the sarlacc. Or we would sit in the back of the car on the way home from Sunday dinner at Nana’s, pressing our fingers to the speaker holes on the rear deck, pretending they were the triggers of our spaceships’ laser guns- our target: the headlight horde of TIE fighters following close behind.
My partner for doing “floats” before we’d agree to get out of the bathtub, and later the trailblazer for jumping off the deck railing into the pool at Aunt Gayle and Uncle Joe’s.
He was the dad when we played house under the dining room table, poor Molly relegated to being Aunt Lucy since the BIG sister got to be the mom in “play pretend” games of three.
My “foot fight” rival, though, it was not really much of a rivalry, since my legs were still longer than his then, and the soles of my feet would slip off his (accidentally on purpose) kicking him in the butt, and sending us both into hysterical laughter.
Always swinging a stick, or a wrapping paper roll, or a toy sword, making swooshing sounds out of the air. Wrestling the pink bunny in our grandparents’ basement and then looking up at the actor in a commercial and saying, “I could beat him in a match,” nevermind that it was a grown man, while he was a fourth grader.
My biggest competitor for the front seat, or control of the television, or the radio station.
The smart and sensitive artist who probably could have written the world’s worst self-help book, but who on many occasions was able to help me out- with a move, with putting together a home gym, with tearing out a rug, or sealcoating the back deck (for a very reasonable fee, of course). 😏
The one with the sense to say, “That’s it! We’re turning this off!” when the creature popped out of John Hurt’s chest in Alien, and the one who would stay up late on Saturdays waiting for SNL, watching Sisters. In each episode, someone on that Sisters tv show would say, “The men in your life may leave you. Children grow up. Parents pass away. The only ones who are there for you, from cradle to grave, are your sisters.” That was true of me for Tom, but I thought that quote applied to brothers too. I guess I was wrong.
There is no Tom here for me to think back on these times with, or to confirm that I remember them as they really happened, or even that they ever really happened at all, and that I haven’t just created them out of a wistful- wishful imagination. There isn’t someone needing me to pick them up at Kelly Square on my way to Sunday dinner at my mom’s anymore. No one to watch turn into my dad or my uncles and then my grandfather. No Uncle Kerm to show my kids the latest computer game or to talk new sci-fi or fantasy movies with. No grown man to worry about constantly any more, but one who still takes up his life-sized space in my waking thoughts. -A
“My brother’s lover, she wore dark veils, had smoky eyes, and these crimson nails- that dug in deep and held on tight and made the bed where he’ll spend all his nights…”From “Ecstasy at the End of Days”