Shades of Blonde

Monday, June 05, 2006

Karl and I

Most earliest memories involve my first real friend, my older brother, Karl. They are extra-special to me because they are all I have left of him, losing him to suicide when he was just 19 in 1985.

Every so often, Karl and I would catch simultaneous nose bleeds. Thick and dark, the blood slowly oozed from our noses like a twisted ketchup rope. Our mother would run to the bathroom in a frenzy, rustling through the closet, looking for old towels. We couldn't use the good, white ones. My brother and I would cup our hands together, trying to catch the blood before it hit the carpet, so our mother wouldn't have to clean that up, too. I don't remember feeling scared like our mom. We were not only fascinated by the peculiar coincidence, but tried to outdo each other on who could get their nosebleed closest to the floor.

Karl and I had been sent our to our Grandmother's lush vegetable garden to weed one day. We had to fill an entire bushel basket with weeds. Working our way to the tomatoes by the time boredom set in, we started bickering about who was doing the most work. I became irritated and picked up a nice dirty clump of weeds and flung them at Karl. We soon began throwing weeds back and forth. I was laughing at the game we had made out of work, when suddenly I felt a large tomato splatter on my cheek. Before I knew it, we were gathering all Grandma's prized tomatoes and running through the garden pelting each other with them. By the time we were discovered, we were covered in tomato puree from our hair to toes.

Another memory on our grandparents farm with Karl, was the time he told me to open a big barrel to see what was inside. Karl knew beforehand that there was a beehive in there. Doing whatever my older brother and best friend said, I dutifully lifted the lid. A swarm of bees flew out, and one stung me in the eye. Karl and I ran screaming, as they chased us back to the farmhouse. No one could get the stinger out. I was taken to the hospital. They put a yellow dye in my eye to help locate it. At the age of 5, this was a very traumatic experience for me, and I remember crying on the hospital bed, thinking I was going to die. My brother stood over me, holding my hand, apologizing, but admitting that my yellow-dyed eye looked pretty cool. He didn't really think we'd get stung, and just thought it would be fun to get chased by the swarm. I forgave him. And it was a good thing he wasn't stung himself, since he was deathly allergic to bee stings!

Grandpa sent us out to the apple orchard one day to pick apples. We were to fill every crate. It seemed as if there were a thousand. After an hour or so, I became bored and hungry. I decided to take an enormous bite from each apple I picked off the ground, and then throw it in the crate.
Karl noticed and warned me that Grandpa would not be happy about selling half-eaten apples. Feeling rather carefree, I replied with, "No big deal, this is The Land of Plenty!" He must have been amused, because soon he was doing the same thing. A bite here, a toss there. Work was play. I do remember Grandpa finally checking on us and catching us, with quite a few choice words. That was one of our most favorite memories and all we had to say to cheer each other years later was "The Land of Plenty."

I have so many other many memories of Karl, too many to write down. A few more are.. running through sewers in Detroit and popping up in a golf course, being chased by club-weilding golfers.. sitting in our plum tree, pegging kids with rotten plums as they walked past our house, skipping school to play Chess and exasperating Karl everytime I called the knights "horsey-guys." We definitely weren't angels, but hopefully, he is one, now.


At 2:36 PM, Blogger Cate said...

What an absolutely beautiful piece of writing. How grateful I am that you were willing to share your precious memories with us--I laughed or I cried as I read each one.

As an only child who has never personally known the kind of love siblings have for one another, you've not only schooled me, but moved me with your words.

At 9:18 AM, Blogger DuhhhBlond said...

thank you.. your comment means so much :)


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