I had three older brothers, and when I was growing up, all three were my heroes, my models. Each one in his own unique way showed me how to live, how to get along in the world. Each one was an authority on things that interested him.
In 1938, on our way home from school, they talked about a new product that could not be torn, was transparent, but could easily be cut. Only years later, plastic became part of the fabric of everyday life. It was so very astonishing that my brothers knew about this. They simply had such wide experience.
They were my go-to guys, they were young men, at fourteen, fifteen and sixteen. When they approved of something, I was elated. When they were annoyed at me, I was deflated. They were helpful to their younger kid brother, took him sleigh riding, even against Father’s command, down a hill with a barbed wire fence at the bottom. A cut on my face gave Father good reason to lash them with the Russian belt.
On a perfect Spring day, with the slough filled with runoff, and all of us with new shoes, we found that the new gophers were out, enjoying the water, the new grass, and the sunshine. We came home with great joy, having spent an exciting afternoon chasing the little creatures through the mud. My brothers all got the lash, and I was the only one with muddy shoes and not crying. They took it for me.
When they were tentatively deciding on career choices, I followed their dreams with my own, and changed phantasied careers many times. I worshipped them.
It could not last, of course. As the years went on, and we all, more-or-less grew up, cut our own path through the unknown underbrush, developed our own ideas, chose our own careers, disagreed with each other. They turned out to have, like myself, feet of clay. It was a terribly disappointing discovery for each of us.
All of us, at the end of the long journey, painfully, came to terms with ourselves and with each other. I think we all forgave each other for the pain we inflicted, for the arrogance of knowing more than the other, for believing that our convictions were somehow wiser that the other.
Finally, we all asked forgiveness, assured each other of our lasting love, said our final goodbyes.
They are still my heroes.