Today is a special day…it’s my older brother’s birthday.  He is 70 years old, not 70 years young.  When you get to be our age, there is nothing young about it except you have almost the same odds of peeing in your pants as you did when you were in the beginning of your childhood.

As I sit here writing this blog, I cannot help but think back on the past and start to reflect on the memories and what my older brother means and meant to me as I was growing up.  This is the story of my brother and I and an old brass bed.

I have three sisters that I love and adore, but I only have one big brother.  Growing up, he was in my eyes everything that I was not.  He is and was 6 years older than me, so when I was 5, he was 11.   We grow up poor and because of that we did not have much, but we had each other.  Because of limited resources, we had to do with what we had and my first constant memories were sharing a bedroom and an old brass bed with my brother.  The mattress and the wire springs under the mattress was so shot that when you climbed in to bed, by yourself, you were ok, but as soon as my older and bigger brother came to bed, you would suddenly roll to the middle of the bed.  It was like sleeping in a hammock.  Not a lot of support, but at least you had a bed to sleep in and you were cozy.

Also, because I was younger, I had to go to bed upstairs before my brother and I was always so scared of what laid in the shadows waiting to attack.  At the age of five, there are many things that frighten a small boy, especially at night.  I hated to be sent to bed because my brother and I were the only ones who slept on the top floor and I would slowly climb the dark and dangerous stairs.  It was exceptionally worse if there was a thunderstorm occurring, because that made me twice as scared.  So, again, I would slowly climb the dark and dangerous stairs now being illuminated by flashes of lightening and you now add in the booms of thunder and I was scared out of my mind.  So, I would stop on the landing near the top of the stairs where there was a stained glass window and I would try to be brave and I would yell at the storm that I was not afraid, but the storm would answer back with thunder and lightning flashes and my resolve would melt and I would bolt to my bedroom and jump in bed and pull the covers over my head.  I would lay there shaking like a leaf, scared almost to death, and wait to fall asleep.  But often times, my big brother would come to my rescue just by coming to bed.  I remember hearing his footsteps on the stairs and him turning on a light and I know that he knew that I was frightened; he never made fun of me.  He would join me in that old dilapidated brass bed and I never felt more relieved and safe because I always knew that he would protect me and not let anything hurt me.

As I got a little older, my older brother would awaken me when he came to bed and have me scratch his back.  The plan was simple, I would scratch his back and count to 500 and then he would do the same to me in return.  So, he would always want me to start out; and being younger and dumber, I would slowly count to 500 while scratching his back and usually he would fall asleep before I was done.  For all I knew, he could have been faking it, but I never complained because it was my big brother who loved me and kept me safe.  As I got older and smarter, I would sometimes complain to him that he needed to scratch my back first. But whenever he did agree, it did not ever take as long for him to reach the 500 mark as it did me.  Thinking back later, I always thought that he was wiser than me and that he somehow cheated.  Like maybe he counted to 500 by increments of 5 or 10…or even 20.  But, the back scratching lasted for years.

As I grew older, I outgrow many of my childhood fears and by the time that my brother was a teenager, he would come to bed and practice playing the guitar and I would lay in that brass bed while he played and sang songs like “Running Bear” by Charlie Preston, “North to Alaska” by Johnnie Horton, or “Please Help Me I am Falling” by Hank Locklin and I thought that he had the best voice of anyone.

So, the years rolled by and soon I was a teenager and sleeping in that old brass bed by myself.  My brother was a man and gone and in the military.  I was becoming more independent like most teenagers and the less that I depended on my older brother to look out for me and protect me.  I continued to sleep in that old bed until I graduated high school and occasionally my older brother would be home on leave and we would have to share that old bed, but he never complained about having to sleep with his younger brother.

So, on this special birthday, this is my happy birthday message to you.  So, happy birthday big brother and thanks for all the wonderful memories.

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