Birthdays: About a Brother

Grandpa Dieter, Jerry and me.

My brother Jerry was born exactly 14 months after I was.

Because my dad was in the South Pacific fighting in WWII, he didn’t know immediately that Jerry had arrived. He received the letter about it, not from my mother–that never arrived–but from his sister. That letter arrived in mid-summer–4-5 months later!

Nothing like these days with emails, Skype, and cell phones…

Because Dad was gone in our first years of life, Mom took many photos to send to him. A few of them survive. But not my parents or Jerry.

I miss my brother often, but especially on his birthday. Why? Because we’d always be in touch that day. One of the few times we missed was when he was onboard ship while he served as a Marine. My card arrived when they reached a port and mail call was held.

Because he was the oldest boy and I was the oldest girl, we grew up feeling a strong sense of responsibility for our younger siblings. One of the stories Jerry loved to tell (always with great embellishment) was the time I threw a knife at him. Almost killed him, he would conclude his story.

Jerry is the one to the right of me in the dark jumper. My dad’s parents’ home and their grandchildren.

Now he knew he’d irritate me with that last because it wasn’t true. But he loved to tease me with a good story.

But here’s the real story.

Jerry was he was out with his teenage buddies, and I was taking care of my younger sisters. Mom and Dad had gone out on a Saturday night which didn’t happen often. I can’t remember where my two other brothers were. But no matter.

My sisters had finally gone to sleep, and I was settling in to read a book when I heard noises from outside. It was well after ten at night and dark.

I looked out the windows but didn’t see anything. Then I heard more noise and what sounded like scratching at the back door. A low light flickered in the back hall when I checked out the sound. I didn’t go down the stairs because I saw the back door handle move. I heard rattling and some rustling noises.

My protectiveness kicked in.I was alone and my sisters were sleeping. Dad and Mom had left me to care for them.

Only a lightweight chain lock held the old door, and since I had been reading a mystery, my mind flipped to burglers. Or worse. (Okay, I admit–I was a drama queen back then)

So I crept to the kitchen to find something to protect my sisters and me–just in case. I found a small paring knife. I would have taken a broom, but I’d have had to pass that back door and go into the basement to get one.

I crept back from the kitchen, my ears alert to any other unusual sounds.

Still nothing except the scraping and rustling outside the back door. Then I heard voices.

“Jerry, is that you?” I asked thinking he really should be home by now. Since we didn’t have housekeys (who needed such things back then?), he wouldn’t be able to get in with the back door chained.

No answer–just more scraping. Then I heard the muttering of several voices. All deep, guttural, male.

“Jerry, is that you?” (And how stupid was that on my part? A burglar or worse would say yes, right?) But I was getting irritated.

Jerry a few years before he died.

Still no response. But the back door eased open more slowly than water boils when you’re watching it.

“Jerry, is that you? Answer me or you’ll be sorry. So help me you will.”

A black-gloved hand slipped through the doorway opened now the width of the chain.

Then hand slid up toward the chain and started yanking at it.

You guessed it. I threw the knife. It landed on the floor–at least 2 feet from the door.

Laughing erupted from outside the door.

You guessed it. It was Jerry and his friends–all very satisfied that they’d gotten the best of me.

Mom and Dad never heard that story until long after Jerry and I were both adults and out of the house. Naturally, they heard it from Jerry who each time he told it, I had drawn more blood. Practically killed him, he told them with a wink.

He loved to tease, Jerry did, and I was a perfect target. But we loved each other dearly.

He wasn’t a perfect man–who is? He believed in family and loved big family gatherings. He had a generous heart which sometimes got him into trouble. I wish he could be here today with us–to see the little grandson of his who looks so much like Jerry’s photos at that age–the ones Mom took to send to the South Pacific for Dad.

He’d love to spoil and to tease his beautiful granddaughters just as he did his daughter, his little sisters, me.

He’d burst with pride at the wee grandson who was born shortly before last Christmas–a holiday he loved.

My brother Jerry. The story teller long before I thought I could weave stories for others. The son who loved his parents. The brother who always wanted to protect unless he was busy teasing.

Happy Birthday, Jerry. I hope you, Eric, John and Jimbo, Mom and Dad and all the others we’ve loved and lost are enjoying the most heavenly day — and for you, Jerry, here’s a cherry pie, too. 🙂

Early March sunrise

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23 Comments on “Birthdays: About a Brother”

  1. Elle J Rossi Says:

    Wonderful, wonderful story! Happy Birthday Jerry! What a prankster. He’s really lucky you didn’t bash him over the head with a frying pan.

  2. Edie Ramer Says:

    Great story! Thanks for sharing. It’s a good thing you didn’t have a broom handy. He would’ve made witch jokes instead of knife jokes.

  3. What a really heartfelt story, Casey. It almost brought tears to my eyes because it’s so obvious you loved your brother and miss him. The picture of him is just great! It’s sad to think about what the people in our lives are missing because they’re gone. But they live in our hearts, our minds, the pictures we hold dear, and the memories.
    Thank you for a lovely start to my Sunday.

  4. Your story about your brother made me cry. My big brother died a few years ago, and I have LOADS of stories to tell about the times he teased me! Like the time he… well, I’ll save them for a blog. Though I don’t get to see him or argue with him about who started what… brother Billy is still with me. Thanks for the memories.

  5. Elle,

    My brother would have appreciated you. Really. And I’m sure he’s very glad you took the time to wish him happy birthday. Back then I never thought of a frying pan though now it would be my weapon of choice, the big, black, cast iron skillet.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Edie,

    Funny you mention the broom and the witch jokes. He used that phrase often, especially when he knew I was not in a teasing acceptance mode.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Patti,

    I do miss him every day in so many ways. He could be a pain in the butt but he was always there with a helping hand and offered it many times when I needed one.

    Thanks for stopping by and enjoying my little tale.

  8. Anne,

    I imagine Jerry is loving all this attention he’s getting with the memories my tale is stirring up. This is good and I’m sure your brother will appreciate once you tell your tales about him. Be sure to let me know. What is it about brothers and the teasing?

    Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  9. Nancy Kaye Says:

    I just loved the story about Jerry. It reminded me of my brother who I miss every day. I’m sure Jerry is up in heaven laughing at the story and adding even more stories. There’s nothing like the love of a great brother.

  10. Nancy,

    You’re so right about the love of a great brother. I was fortunate to have 3 to put up with though death has taken 2 of them. But the family stories and memories live on.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing about your brother. 🙂

  11. Such a wonderful story, Casey. Sounds like story telling runs in the family. 😉

    I had two younger brothers, but lost one several years ago (he was only 34), and your post has me thinking of a few fun times we shared. Hugs to you and Happy Birthday, Jerry! 🙂

  12. Donna,

    I have to say that Jerry is loving all the female attention today–wherever he is. I can hear him crooning his imitation of Frank Sinatra’s My Way with each birthday wish he’s getting,,,

    Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  13. Casey, love this story. And as long as you keep those memories alive, he’s with you. Happy Birthday to Jerry!

    Beautiful pictures, too!

  14. Stacey,

    I’ve got a million of those stories and they pop up at family functions when we start the “remember when…” to bring up members no longer with us. That allows the stories to keep on in the lives of this newest generation too.

    Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  15. Anne Parent Says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your brother, Jerry. Although my brother is much younger than am I, you’ve reminded me to call and let him know I love him. Thank you!

  16. Hi Anne,

    Jerry would be happy to think because of him you were making a call to your brother. Oops, I should probably do the same and call my one remaining brother. Funny how different time zones can play around with phone calls. Thank goodness for emails which we do a lot.

    Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  17. Wow! You come from a large family. And that was a great story about a brother you clearly love. He looks like a character, alright…

  18. Lorna,

    Yes, very large family here. I was the oldest followed by 3 brothers who were forever beheading my dolls or whatever they could do. I loved them dearly and was furious with them a lot. Finally, after more than 10 years, I had 2 little sisters. By then I was more mother to them than sister though that has changed since we’ve all grown up. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by and believe me–Jerry was a character. 🙂

  19. carol gianforte Says:

    my favorite of all your marvelous writings! How we have loved and still love the precious people who have been part of our lives.

    And my hope remains that I I surely expect to meet them all again!!

  20. Oh, Carol,

    I hope you meet once again somewhere in time all those people you hope to meet again.

    And I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. Thanks for stopping by!

  21. […] And here’s Jerry… […]

  22. Ah, yes, I remember this one! 🙂 Happy Birthday, Jerry and I KNOW you’re still singing… 😉

  23. Sandy Says:

    What a wonderful story about you and Jerry. It brought some great memories back for me and my brother, too. Only, we teased our brother.

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