Life Changing Days – Sibling rivalry

Not all is as peaceful as it might seem.  We siblings each have our own personalities. That we are all given the opportunity to develop and be who ever we are is not just a blessing but a responsibility.  And it is very much a life-learning lesson.

My first learning experience was when I was young.  Never, ever tattle on my older brothers.  It meant pain, plain and simple.  If my sister and I dared that – besides hearing – ‘that’s once, that’s twice…’ (very irritating and grating – something we never want to hear) it was always a fact they spanked us for all our tattling when mom and dad went to town for groceries.

Jimmy at Adolph's

My little brother and our cousin.

After spanking us, once they tossed us out of the house, with our little brother, barely walking and kept us out – while they stayed inside doing those wonderful things I imagine older kids do…  My sister and I made plans to just go into town and find our aunt’s place instead of just sitting around babysitting.  We were doing an excellent job too – we were nearly a mile away from our home on our twenty mile trek.  Looking around – we saw and heard the tractor coming towards us.  The satisfaction we felt knowing they couldn’t catch us walking was short-lived as we scrambled into the grass and weeds in the ditch.  We dragged our little brother with us.  Covering his mouth – just in case – we trembled in fear.  No – not yet another spanking – all on the same day?  And we succeeded as well.  The tractor went right by us.  We were so pleased we let go of our little brother.  Wanting to escape he immediately crawled out onto the road.  We were caught.  Boys!!

As I grew a little older I picked one of my older brothers to follow.  I was sure he was always going away to do some wonderful, exciting things – even though he said he was going to visit a friend a few miles away.  Sometimes he took the rifle and I was very curious.  Was he shooting bad-guys maybe?  So, regardless of whether he drowned me by sticking me head down into the rain-barrel or not, I was intent on finding out what exciting things he was doing.  I would stand up, gasping for air, crying but continued to follow him.  Sometimes he outran me and fearing I might get lost I would go home.  But sometimes he was laughing so hard – he couldn’t escape.  Those were wonderful times. He would sit down and whittle a real six-shooter from wood with his jack-knife.  Or sometimes he taught me glorious, dangerous things.  I would put my hand down and spread my fingers.  He taught me how to place the jack-knife, blade first, down between each finger then back.  As I learned this exciting activity –  my speed picked up – and that seemed to please him as he laughed then too.  I was very careful not to tell our parents.  But I knew he was actually going to do exciting things and kept following him for those times I caught him.

Dad with Dusty and Reg

Sometimes I wished my older brothers were still this small. I would have showed them.

As I grew older and my brothers moved away, my sister and I became the older ones.  My sister is a very gentle soul.  She is kind, generous, great cook and a wonderful mother too.  Life is much easier.  I only have one problem.  One of my younger brother’s turned into me.  He is stubborn and insistent on coming along  when I decide to take the hatchet and go build a real log cabin a mile away (where there are lots of trees). Or when I practice to be trick-rider – standing and doing tricks on a galloping horse.  The trouble – he is too little and couldn’t do it.  Besides he is so slow he could never learn either.   I decided I would stop him once and for all.  I didn’t try drowning him because I certainly hadn’t liked that.  I would create my own punishment.  I hooked him up to the electric fence instead.  Contrary to some beliefs – there is not much electricity going through an electric fence – enough to startle, not hurt an animal – or in this case a human.  But the cruelty of my actions – me who vowed to always help those weaker just like those cowboys in the books – was inexcusable.  It was one of the only times I was mean. It made me aware of how easy it is to falter from your beliefs.  It made me aware of my actions.  Fortunately, my brother didn’t hate me or call me mean.  Unfortunately, he kept following me.  So, sometimes when I was feeling generous, I taught him some exciting, dangerous things too.

Nola's First Holy Communion

Nola’s First Holy Communion