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February Is Hard For Me
February for me is always a little sad. My baby brother, who died in 2000, was born on February 15 and my older brother Neil died February 13 1994. Both were way too young to lose and I've never really gotten over the loss.

My baby brother Darrin was fourteen years younger than me, and I left home a few years after he was born. So due to the age difference, we didn’t have as much history as I had with my older brother Neil. He was about seven years older than me, which was just the right age to keep me in line.

He was a good kid but he had a mean streak that came out now and then. My parents bought him a Benjamin Franklin pellet gun when he was about 16 and he immediately proclaimed himself god over the other kids in the neighborhood. Not THE God, but in those days he was the god of firepower, and anyone who didn't like it could talk to Mr. Franklin.
If he pumped that thing up five or six times, he probably could have brought down an elk, but when you pumped it once or twice, it would only leave a nasty whelp if he popped you on the rear end. He used this mode for behavior management.

One spring day after he got Ol’ Ben, I was being a total pain and Neil decided it was time for a little attitude adjustment. He pumped a little air in the chamber and popped me on my left thigh with Ol’ Ben. It felt like I had gotten stun by a hornet! I headed straight for the house to rat him out to mother.

She was judge and jury in such matters and while she often fought back the urge to choke me herself, she took a dim view of his approach to behavior modification. I knew in fact that she would make him pay dearly.

Neil headed me off at the pass and tried to derail my mission. “Come on you little baby! That didn’t hurt!” he sneered. I could often be swayed when my maturity was questioned, but I was undeterred. My mom was on the back porch feeding blue jeans through the wringer of the old Maytag washer. Washing clothes always made her irritable for some reason. I knew when I delivered the news about the shooting, she would serve up a fresh helping of hickory tea for Neil.

"If you tell mama, she’ll hit the roof,” he said with a little desperation in his voice. “You got that right bubba," I agreed, knowing that justice was about to be served. He changed tactics and said with a hint of malice, "If I get a whuppin, I'll catch you sleeping one night and put a grub worm in your ear. It will eat out your brains and all your wiring and you'll spend the rest of your life walking around like a zombie."

Now I had seen my share of Saturday morning zombies on the old Motorola and I felt an involuntary shiver race up my spine when I thought about that grub worm munching on my medulla. I was pretty sure he was bluffing, but that threat put a nasty picture in my head. I actually had bad dreams for a month afterward. I decided to give him another chance.

This evening I felt a little melancholy when I sat down to write, but remembering this story brought a smile to my face. And even though it’s been several years since they passed on, I still miss my brothers.


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