We buried my little brother Saturday. When my nephew informed me of his death in the middle of the night last week, I was flooded with emotions. I felt an immediate sense of loss and regret tempered with a measure of relief. Tom has been moving ever closer to death’s door for the past several months. Finally the door swung open and Tom was ushered in. The relief I felt was because his body would no longer be wracked by the ravages of the condition that eventually claimed his life. Even so, losing my brother hurt.
We go back three-quarters of a century. Born to a mom and dad, short on resources but rich in family values, he and I grew up simply. I was the oldest so my hand-me-downs went to him. We didn’t have much in the way of “things and stuff” but the way we were raised, we didn’t feel short-changed. I never remember feeling less fortunate than the other kids because the shirts he and I wore to school were made by our mom out of material she bought at Milam’s store in Winnfield. She could work magic with her old foot-operated Singer sewing machine, needle and thread.
Tom and I were fortunate to have two first cousins growing up on the hill just across our uncle Sam Brewton’s pasture from us. Our dads were brothers; uncle Walter’s two boys, Doug and Sambo, were like brothers to Tom and me. We were stair-steps; I was the oldest; Doug one year younger than me; Tom a year younger than Doug with Sambo a year younger than Tom.
Tom’s death has brought a flood of memories that seem so much more important now that he’s gone. One memory brings a chuckle – he, Doug, Sambo and I had a spot down on Molido creek we claimed as our own. There was a swimming hole where the water ran cold and clear located in a bend of the creek with a high clay bank on the outside bend. One night the four of us had set out hooks for catfish and were spending the night there on the creek bank.
With the hooks out and baited, we settled down on blankets for the night. Sometime in the middle of the night, Sambo decided we needed to go run our hooks. I was sound asleep, jumped up and still stuporous, began walking toward the creek.
When Tom got the least bit excited, he would stutter and stammer and as he saw me walking toward the bluff bank, he tried to warn me. All I heard was “GL…GL….” before kersplash; I stepped off the bluff in the dark and into the cold water below. The other three had a good laugh; I had to contend with spending the rest of the night soaked to the skin.
Years passed, we grew up and ventured out into lives of our own. Half a dozen or so years ago, cousin Doug offered a suggestion that the other three of us jumped at. He has a nice pond near his Goldonna home and invited us for a get-together to catch, clean and cook fish, sit under the shade and rehash old memories. This initial gathering has been followed every year since and it has become one of my year’s highlights. We’re meeting there again soon but it won’t be the same without my brother.
Tom and I were benefactors of a mom who loved birds and taught us to identify those that visited our yards. In his adult life, Tom became an expert at bird identification and often conducted birding tours.
This time of year, I am always on the look-out for a rose breasted grosbeak, a stunningly beautiful bird that makes a brief appearance on our feeders each spring.
I had not seen a grosbeak thus far this year but on the morning of Tom’s death, I looked out at the feeder and there sat a gorgeous male, black back, white under parts and crimson bib. It was as if Tom had sent me a final farewell message. I love you and miss you brother. Thanks for your parting gift.
Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.