Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Two For The Price Of One

My grandmother was going to have another baby. At the same time two or three of her cousins were also having babies. Of course the cousins had twins running in their families so there was much speculation about which of them would have twins. Surprise! It was Grandma.

My aunt and uncle are twins. Two more different people you will never meet. My aunt is slightly vain, my uncle could care less. My aunt is aloof and haughty, my uncle is just one of the folks. My aunt has dark hair, my uncle has light brown hair (or they used to anyway). My aunt was very cerebral, my uncle was more sports oriented. I think you get the idea.

You know, I do not remember my aunt being around much when we were real young. She is only about 5 years older than I. Odd that I do not remember doing things with her then.

When we all lived in Washington on the dairy farm, my aunt was the one who tried to keep us supplied with worms for fishing. She had dug around and loosened the dirt in an area about the size of a frisbee. She covered it with a rock. Every day she would empty coffee grounds and a few bits of vegetation in it and stir it gently. We went fishing across the highway often so we were glad to have a good place to get our bait.

When we moved back to Nebraska from Washington there were a lot of us. Grandpa drove his car and Daddy drove ours. Our car was poulling a trailer with all our belongings in it.

The cars were crowded so us kids took turns riding in the trailer on top of a lot of nice soft blankets. I liked riding back there so I rode as often as I could. My aunt and I had a long turn once. Remember that Daddy liked to drive with as few stops as possible.

I think I probably annoyed her. She was a teenager and I was a lowly child. She liked to peek out the back of the trailer and flirt with the men who were following us. Not to be outdone I tried to flirt too. After all I was not that much younger. I realize now how ridiculous I must have seemed but there was a bit of a rivalry at that time. Anyway she just laughed at my efforts.

After a few more years we were attending the same school. She was very intelligent. She was in high school and I was in grade school (there was no such thing as junior high). She graduated at the same time as my best friend's brother.

The two of them were in a tie for having the highest grade point average. It was finally decided that my friend's brother would be the valedictorian, partly because he had lived in that town all his life and mostly because he was a boy. With everything being equal a male always took precedence over a female. After all someday he would have a family to support.

I can remember my aunt coming in to town to go to church on Sundays when I was small. She would ride the horse and tether it in our yard. It was good for Daddy because if she put it in a different spot wach Sunday he would not have to mow the yard; the horse kept the lawn short.

She married. I am not sure I ever met her husband. When I first learned she was married she had a baby boy and her husband was in prison sending her threatening letters. I was not supposed to know all this but I liked to listen to the adults talking so...

She did remarry. Again I did not meet her husband. Her family moved to another state. She is now battling leukemia. For the time being she is winning.

My uncle worked hard on the farm as did most sons of farmers. But I remember us all playing together sometimes too. He was enough older that he was one of the milkers who would squirt milk from the cows so we could catch it in our mouths at milking time.

When he was around 9 or 10 he had to have an emergency appendectomy. That was a major operation then. He was in the hospital for a long time. Then he had a long recovery time at home before he could do any chores or go back to school.

The doctor finally cleared him to return to normal life. So he went back to school. One weekend he and some of his friends were doing whatever they did at the farm. Off in the distance they could hear a train.

My uncle decided to climb a tree and see if he could spot the train. He climbed to very top. And he lost his grip.

He slid all the way down the side of the tree trying to stop his fall. He lost a lot of skin from the friction. There was another longer hospital stay.

He needed to have skin grafts all over his body. He still has scars and puckers from the trauma of it. He missed the whole year of school. That made him graduate a year behind his twin sister.

My uncle was tall. He participated in all sports. He played basketball, football, and track. Football was a major sport in Nebraska. Friday night was game night. The whole town turned out for home games.

It was a chilly autumn night. Perfect football weather. The game was in full swing. The coach sent my uncle in to take the place of another player. As he ran onto the field the laces that held his pants on came loose and his pants fell to his ankles.

He was much younger when we were going home after school one day. One of his friends lived right next door to the school. A bunch of them decided to have a contest. They were going to see who could urinate over the top of the garage. It was a major event and practically the whole school was there to watch. I do not remember who won.

My uncle married a nut. And I do not mean it kindly. They had a little girl and a little boy. Then they divorced so she could remarry. Soon the authorities were knocking on my uncle's door to arrest him for physically abusing his children.

They had marks from cigarette burns and bruises and cuts from being hit. They said, "Daddy did it."

It took a while for them to discover that the stepfather was the daddy they were talking about. It was their mother and stepfather who were inflicting these injuries. My uncle gladly took custody of his children. They have grown to be worthwhile adults.

After a few years my uncle remarried. I have not met his wife but we correspond regularly. She had children and they had some of their own. It is a big happy family. My uncle is more than content.

After a rocky start to their adult lives both my aunt and my uncle found happiness. In the end that is what we all strive for.