My earliest memory of my oldest brother, Bill was of he and I sitting at a window and him teaching me how to count to ten in German. He was a very good teacher because I still remember how--but that is what big brothers are for.
Then there was the time Bill saved my life when I was four. Or at least that is how I remember it. We went to the pool on the army post. It was one of those El Paso days when the hot sun and the dry air got together and waged war. All I could think about was that pretty blue pool of cold wetness. At the first opportunity I jumped. But Bill, at nine a great swimmer, dove in right after me.
Bill rescued me again on my first day of school. I was lost. I didn't know where to go or what to do. I remember Bill taking me by the hand and walking me to a teacher and fearlessly asking her where I should go. I thought he was the bravest person I had ever known.
As we grew older, I was still in awe of him. My brother Bill was always a leader. The commander and chief of the five of us kids growing up. He was the oldest and a boy and naturally took charge. He was the one who counted “one potato two potato” to find out who was it when playing tag. He was the one who divided us in teams for kick ball. I always thought he would have made a great general.
Bill was kid-rich too. He always had money: quarters and nickels in bulging in his pockets. Or better yet, always and I mean always a big crinkly brown bag of candy. He always had more than he spent. I always thought Bill would be a great banker.
By the time he was 15, Bill had reached legendary status in the neighborhood. He always was trading something. Gum, candy, comic books. He always came home with a bigger bag of marbles than when he left -- he never seemed to lose. And in the event that Brother Bill did lose, he would trade his way to the top again. I always thought that he would have made a killing as a stockbroker.
Bill was the man. He was a charming, funny, a cool kind of kid. He was a guy with always something going on with friends or girls. He had a sharp mind. He could have been anything he wanted. I always wondered where Bill could have gone.
But life happens when you are trying to live it and things didn't go the way I always wished for Bill. But hope springs eternal and I have still have my bets on him. Bill is 50+ years old and starting over. It's scary and hard but he's trying.
It's times like these you just don't remember what's inside you. Often it gets impossible to remember that you can ...that you still have it in you to be the man. Now and then you have to be reminded. I guess that was what little sisters are for.