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Hero

Hero

Tim1

River Rest & Sunset Hills Cemetery – the current address of most of my relatives…

 

This may surprise you, but I was a weird child.  I was plagued with night terrors and picked on at school.  It didn’t help that I peed my tights in 3rd Grade while standing in front of the class reciting from the Weekly Reader, or that I brought a live bullfrog in a bucket for show and tell.  Those are the kind of images that die hard in the minds of elementary school children…  I was the definition of misfit: a mark for my more self-assured classmates who used my ponytail as a handle and called me “witch” on the playground (believe me if I was a witch, they would have been turned into bullfrogs, and who named that hellhole a playground?).

 

I don’t remember a lot from my childhood.  I have specific memories (like refusing to eat cream of asparagus soup or sitting on my mother’s lap in a rocker) when I was a toddler, but the big picture is fuzzy and comes to me in snippets.

 

The one thing I remember vividly is my big brother.  He was my hero.  Tim was eight years older than me; nerdy-cool; a budding scientist who actually blew up our garage; and above all else – kind to me.  I have this mental picture of my brother in a white tee-shirt, standing in his bedroom doorway (his was directly across from mine) opening a new purchase he’d ordered from a catalogue.  There were gag syringes with retractable needles, chocolate covered bugs, beakers and microscopes, formaldehyde, suture kits and live reptiles he’d move to cages in the basement.

 

For some reason, Tim let me hang out with him.  I’d sit at the end of one of his twin beds with the dog, while he held court.  His nerdy-cool friends were more like an experimental control group: their hair standing on end to study static electricity, the dirt beneath their fingernails smeared onto petri dishes.  When Tim looked at me or asked for my assistance or included me in a secret, I felt like a warm sun was shining on only me.  That’s my definition of a hero.  Not a dude in tights who scampers over tall buildings, but the person you admire, who steps in at exactly the right moment, and makes you feel worthy.

 

Tim died eight years ago yesterday.  The platelets plumbed from a catheter in my crotch were a perfect match and he was pronounced Leukemia free, but he died shortly afterwards from “complications”.

 

As adults Tim and I were not as close.  I stopped needing his particular light.  In fact, for the past few years I haven’t really thought about him.  Two nights ago I sat up out of a sound sleep with TIM in my mind like a beacon.  I’ve been thinking about him ever since…

 

He was Lauren’s favorite relative.  When he died she had the Irish Blessing tattooed on her shoulder, and every year on the anniversary of his death she remembers…  This morning as I think of Tim, I feel a strong bond.  I haven’t cried for him in a long time, but I cried today.  I now understand his battles with the bottle.  I understand when he used to stare off into space as if he were communing with God or aliens or his own thoughts.  I understand how very sad it is he lost his life, when he was about to start really living it.

 

I’m feeling a sense of urgency about this.  I am worried.  I hope he knew, all those years ago, he was my hero.

M.

 May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

 

Today I’m not drinking because I’m remembering Tim…

How come you’re not drinking?

 

Comments (15)

  1. Robert Arleigh White
    Feb 13, 2015

    This hits home. Hard. Thank you, Marilyn.

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Feb 13, 2015

      Thank you dear Bob. Thank YOU. This one was rough. I almost didn’t push the button…
      xxxooo
      M

  2. Kim
    Feb 13, 2015

    Fantastic post but I do want you to share the pre-transplant woe. It speaks to to your alcoholism,advoidance, and ultimately your bravery. After all Mare, you are a hero too!

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Feb 13, 2015

      It is true that when my brother was sick and needed me, I hid. I didn’t answer the phone for weeks because I was afraid to go through with the bone marrow transfer (platelets transfer). I had heard it was painful and I have a phobia about hospitals. It was not my finest hour (or weeks). When I did go and submit to being plumbed, I was so overwhelmed by how sick everyone was (MD Anderson) that I was ashamed… I was drinking pretty heavily in those days, but it’s no excuse – my behavior was too little too late. I am happy to be able to think about him on the anniversary of his death with a clear head AND heart.
      Love.
      M

  3. Richard
    Feb 13, 2015

    How come you're not drinking?
    I am. Coffee.
    M. Thank you for the heartfelt words. My older sister is my hero. She has always been there for me during my years growing up in an alcoholic household, and guided me through my crazy years as a young “adult”. She guided me to a career that has, with all its challenges given me a happy and rewarding life. She is going through some heart issues now……I am very concerned. I cannot imagine living in a world without her in it. I focus my prayers for her on Thanks and for her health and safety. She has truly been my hero.. Richard

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Feb 13, 2015

      You know Richard, I really didn’t think about my brother for a number of years after his death. I did not cry at his funeral the way I should have. This feeling of sorrow came out of nowhere, and I guess it is just one more step toward the greening of Marilyn Spiller: facing my brother’s death and paying him tribute (the way my daughter has been doing it all these years).
      I am so happy you have your sister and I pray for her good health.
      xxxooo
      M

  4. Geoff
    Feb 13, 2015

    Gosh, I love your stories Marilyn. You are a very gifted writer – each one leaves me wanting to know more. Go well, Geoff

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Feb 14, 2015

      Thank you Geoff. For everything.
      M

  5. Liz
    Feb 14, 2015

    My brother died in his early 20’s. At home in his bed. The death certificate says from complications of hypoglycemia and pneumonia. But the reality is that he died from the complications of our family disease. Shame and denial. Thank you for being so vulnerable Marilyn. Reading this helped me. This is how we all get better.

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Feb 14, 2015

      Thank you for reading. And you are right – bringing alcoholism (or as we called it in our house, “The Irish Flu”) to the bright light is certainly the way to force the issue in guarded families. Thank you for your empathy and I am so sorry for your loss.
      M

  6. Ines Labick
    Feb 15, 2015

    Marylin, When I talked to your mother today she told me you had written a tribute to Tim so I looked it up. What you wrote is so beautiful and heart warming. We all miss him so much. Ines, Bonnie’s sister.

  7. Mrs D
    Feb 13, 2017

    Lovely post, very moving.. love that you’re reconnecting with Tim now xxx

  8. Theresa Watson
    Feb 13, 2017

    How come you're not drinking?
    trwstat@aol.com
    What a beautiful tribute to Tim. You are a gifted writer.
    I remember you from Bonnie and Tim’s wedding. Tim’s cute little sister. All of us in our rainbow dresses and Bonnie looking so beautiful.
    Tim, Bonnie, and I lost track of each other for many years. What a waste of a beautiful friendship. We had so much fun double dating in college. We had so much fun just talking.
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. How very fortunate you were to have Tim as a big brother and as your hero.

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