Of all my siblings, my relationship with my oldest brother, Larry, was the most difficult. As with each of my older male siblings, the absence of my father throughout my childhood meant the predominant male influences in my life were my older brothers (older by 6, 9, & 11 years).
Larry was everything I wasn’t – tough, strong…. very, very alpha…. All things I wasn’t – but desperately wanted to be. But for the most part, Larry was at best always an arm’s length away and not anyone I talked to. I observed and even worshipped a bit from afar.
That’s the best best it would ever be.
And it would get much worse.
There would always be a tense, tacit competition for my mother’s affection among all my siblings – particularly the boys – a contest I never realized I was always leading in. I was the favorite long before I ever knew it. My mother, once my father had exited our lives, latched her hopes and dreams on the next person who was most dedicated to her – me. This didn’t sit well with my remaining siblings. I was the favorite – though never applied for the position.
Larry, seemed to have taken great issue with this. Again, more than I ever realized. I was blissfully buried in a world of my own creation – where all siblings loved each other and one day Dad would walk back through the door., and any day we would be The Waltons. These things eventually happened – in my mind.
My childhood – even my adolescence – was a happy delusion of my own creation. I was a painfully honest child and if asked a question, answered honestly and without agenda…. I am far more devious now (who am I kidding?).
Larry did something for what he thought was a good reason, and when I was asked, “what happened?”, I told my mother Larry did it. I was 13.
This enraged him. And from that day until only very, very recently, I was person non grata to Larry. So much so that an order of protection was nearly issued (prevented by Larry’s going to live near my Uncle Dick in Mississippi). This was preceded by several incidents I won’t go into (but do in #TheBoyOnTheBureau.
Four years later I was hitchhiking home and an old pick up truck with Mississippi license plates pulled over to offer me a ride. I never even thought twice about it. The moment I closed the car door, I realized it was Larry. He didn’t recognize me. the last time he saw me I was a stocky 4’ 10”. In the 4 years he had been away, I had shot up to 5’11” and only gained about 10 pounds.
I never even thought to lie about my address when it was obvious that he had no idea who I was. I told him that I was going to the red house on the left with the sleigh in the front yard. As the truck came to a halt, he said with a smile, ”hey, I used to live in that house.”
It was at that moment – the moment I said, “thank you” and jumped out of the truck and ran to the back door looking back to see Larry’s look of shock rather than anger.
From then on, he hated me from a distance and I avoided him at all costs. Word came back to me that he had a beating in store for me should we ever cross paths – though at this point I realized this was his way of terrorizing me 24/7 rather than beating me up and going to jail for it.
With my assistance, his plan was a complete success. I was traumatized for years.
When I was making my wedding plans, again “word came back” that he was thinking of driving to New York just to mess up my the ceremony. This was ten years later. My own fear crushed me. Larry just knew he could take advantage of that.
I saw Larry 23 years later. He was still loud and angry… and not so scary anymore. We’ve talked a couple of times. Once almost civilly.
Larry’s birthday is tomorrow, July 10th.