Saturday, December 12, 2009

Who Brought Brad?

My brother, Brad was one and a half years younger than I. He was also handicapped and confined to a wheelchair from birth. Brad was unable to write or feed himself. This made attending public school challenging for him. Brad and I both attended public school in the sixties which was unheard of in that era. I attended first, and at the time I was able to walk, so my disability wasn't noticeable. When my mom registered Brad a year later the school wasn't going to let him register. My mom pointed out that I had been attending for a year and we had the same disability. She also informed the school that his problem was he couldn't walk not that he couldn't think. I think we paved the way for many handicapped children in the Cartwright School District. Throughout my public school career I always saw students in wheelchairs other than ourselves attending school. This was before public law 94-142 which stated that ALL children had a right to a public education.

Brad and I did not like each other. I don't know if it was "crippled kid" rivalry or what, but I can assure you he hated me. He and my mom were best friends and they were inseparable. Brad and my youngest sister, Caren, were also inseparable. I always teased Caren that he liked her because she would do anything he said. If he told her to guzzle a pitcher of beer, she would. If he told her to rob a bank or jump off a cliff, she would. To be honest, we probably didn't get along because I was jealous of him.

I always thanked God that Brad was in a wheelchair. He was a mean brother. I can't imagine what would have happened, if he had the ability to get a hold of us. He would have been one of those brothers that would have held you down, and let a loogie slide out of his mouth to where it would just get close to your face and then he would suck it back up. Except with me, he would have let the loogie drip in my face.

What Brad couldn't do with his legs and arms, he made up for with his mouth. His tongue was as sharp as a newly honed hunting blade. His words could slice through you and go directly to your heart. I am not saying that I didn't fight back. I learned snarly word whipping from the best, Brad himself.

Brad was the cutest little boy in the whole world. He was adorable. He was witty. He was funny. He was fun. Brad was the complete opposite of me, and that is probably the reason we hated each other.

When Brad was in first grade he made one of those typical first grade Christmas ornaments. It was a star cut from Styrofoam with a pipe cleaner hook, and it had his picture on it framed with glitter. Now I am sure throughout his school career Brad made many Christmas ornaments, but that is the one that my mom kept throughout the years, and always placed it on our tree. That is saying a lot because we evolved into a theme Christmas tree family, and a Styrofoam glittered star was never part of any of our themes.

Brad died two weeks before his twenty-fifth birthday. He fought the hard fight, and he lost. Unfortunately, sharp words can't battle pneumonia. I always wonder, if Brad will be one of the "five people I meet in Heaven". I am sure we will have many things to discuss as we walk the streets of gold. I am a little leery of meeting him because he will be able to walk, and get a hold of me. But, I will be able to run, if needed.

I always think of Brad at Christmas. When my family gathers for the Holiday, no matter what sister or what theme Brad's Styrofoam glittered star is put on the tree. We make a toast to him and other loved ones lost. It has been quite a few years since we have all had Christmas together. I miss those Christmas gatherings: exchanging of the perfect gifts, daily Scrabble games, the laughing, the teasing, the laughing, the fights, the laughing, the food, and the traditional Christmas question, "Who brought Brad?"

Paco's Perspective

Thanks to you, I have a little brother. He takes all my toys and he doesn't give them back. He won't let me sleep in MY bed! Don't tell him, but I like play fighting with him, and I like going for runs with him. Okay, I guess he can stay.

The Flip Side

Thanks to you, I have a big brother. He has great toys and his bed is very comfortable, especially, the soft blankie. Please tell me that dog you call Reflection is NOT my brother!


  1. Not only run, Girl, but run in heels.

  2. I always wished for a brother, and I still do. :)