Wednesday, October 24, 2012


My parents had two families, the one in which I grew up and the other years before I was born.  You see my oldest brother is 13 years my senior.  He was an only child for 12 years and his life with our parents was considerably different than the one experienced by his younger siblings.  Our parents were only in their early twenties when he was born, newly married and just forging into adulthood. 

My brother was four years old the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.    WWII soon interrupted their lives and our mother followed our father to the west coast.  Dad was stationed with the Navy in San Diego while Mom and my brother were in Washington State where she was able to get a factory job.  My mother’s parents went with them and they all worked in the same factory on different shifts in order to have someone home with my brother.

Butch and an unidentified little girl.  Butch was wearing one of his many soldier uniforms!
On their train ride to the coast my brother was decked out in his sailor outfit and the soldiers on their way to the war played with him.  Partly to keep my brother entertained and most likely to distract themselves from thoughts of what was ahead for them.  For my brother it was simply a great adventure.  He and mother often talked about that experience on the train and remembered it fondly.  Mom said she thought about those young soldiers and often wondered if they made it back home safely.  My mother often referred to that time as one of the best and worst experiences of her life.  These were memories shared exclusively between my mother and brother.

The war left a huge impression on my brother.  So much that he spent 30 years in the army reserve and retired as a full colonel.  In addition he was a law enforcement officer so he spent his entire life in uniforms

After the war ended my parents tried to have another child.  By this time Butch was about nine years old.  After a few years they finally had David but sadly he only lived a few days.  Once again my mother and brother shared yet another tragic event.  Together they grieved the loss of a little brother and a baby son.  Our mother suffered a deep depression after David’s death and Butch was there helping our dad care for our mother.

About two years later Mike was born and Butch was finally a big brother.  Thirteen months later he became a big brother once again.  It always amazed me that my older brother welcomed his younger siblings so whole-heartedly when he had been an only child for so long.  But he really was the best big brother any kid could have.  Mike was attached to his hip from the moment he left the hospital.

For Mike and I our big brother was like another parent.  He was one more person who made us feel safe and secure.  I really don’t have any memory of Butch until he was about sixteen years old and he was already an adult in my thinking.  He was out of the house by the time I was nine years old.  I cried at his wedding not because I didn’t like my new sister-in-law but because my older brother would not be living at our house anymore.

No matter how old we get Mike and I will always be Butch’s little brother and sister and for us Butch will always be our protector and big brother.


kenju said...

You're lucky. I always wanted an older brother and some sisters, but I have none.

Olga said...

My husband has a brother and a sister 13 and 15 years yonger than he is. Growing up, they thought he was a neighbor who visited but they have gotten close as adults.

marciamayo said...

What a beautiful story.

Hughes ap Williams said...

When I was born my brother was 11-years-old and my sisters were 14 and 15.

One day they were teasing me about being a "surprise". My mother told them that I was the only one that was planned.