STORIES

His Day

Here we are October 25th.  I can’t believe that we are nearing the end of 2018.  Time flies, faster and faster with age!

October is filled with some fun things!  Halloween for one!  SO fun for the kids and this year I decorated a bit more for this scary evening!  We also have a lot of birthdays this month.  It seems that June, July and October are filled with the majority of our birthdays, with a smattering here and there throughout the rest of the year.

The 8th is my sis-n-law Becky’s birthday, she sort of kicks off the birthdays for the month.  Then it’s followed by Ally on the 17th and Dawn on the 23rd!  And we end the whole month with Halloween!

October seems a busy month.  Of course in between all the celebrating of birthdays, it is time to start readying the house and yard for the inevitable snow.  Also, the planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas starts and soon October gives way to some festive times!  I also love that the leaves turn and start to fall (though not the raking) and the days a little shorter.  I love to come home after work, do a couple of things around the house and then settle on the couch for a show or movie (I feel less inclined to do that in the summer when its warm and sunny outside!).  I also love to pull out my fall and winter cozy clothing.  The days are so crisp and for some reason it feels fresh.  I love the fall….I feel as though it is a time to slow down a bit and just enjoy the scenery around me. All in all, I kind of like October!

Of course, October wouldn’t be….well, October without Halloween and the kids LOVE it!  It’s been weeks in planning for their costumes and helping them dress up for the evening is always so fun!  As I said earlier, I actually decorated more this year than I have in recent years.  I used to really go all out decorating, but lately not so much.  I decided to step it up this year and I let the kids take the lead.  I have to admit, it was a little fun!

As I set about decorating I couldn’t help wondering WHY we “celebrate” this day with goblins, ghouls and witches?? Okay, I know…I should probably have known, and I did know the broad idea that it is the evening before All Saints Day.  But I wondered how it came to be that we now dress up in costumes and go “trick or treat” for candy.  I read a couple of articles and found some very interesting facts about HOW Halloween came to be what it is today.  This one via the History channel was enlightening.  Essentially, there is rich history behind this “holiday” but being America, we commercialized it to what it is today.  Go figure that it would really be about costumes and candy for us here in the US! 🙂

I will not get into all the specifics, but I linked the article above if you want to read about it more about how this day came to be.

For me, I find this month fitting for one particular birthday, today October 25th, as it is my brother Daren’s birthday.  As it is with July 19th, the day he died, this day always gives me pause.  For 33 years now, this day has come and gone without a birthday card sent, a phone call or a text wishing him a ‘great day’, or a 40th or 50th birthday celebration.  I sit here and think about that and it fills my heart with sadness, a heaviness beyond repair no matter the time that passes. 

I stopped and looked at his picture on my wall this morning….

“Happy birthday big brother”….I whispered quietly, almost anticipating a response.  And then, “why?”.  There is never an answer for that.  For 33 years that answer has alluded us as a family.  Each of us internalizing it in our own way.  Some of us partly broken.

He is forever frozen at the age of 22, taken too soon.  The unfairness in that is plenty.  A life cut so short.  I realize that there are sadder stories, and loss cuts deep for each person in whatever their current situation is.  No matter the age, young to old….death always leaves us begging questions, and yearning for answers that will never come.

You may ask why I think October a fitting birthday month for Daren, as my brother was far from a saint.  I am giggling as I write this and if my brother Randy reads this, his stories would be numerous to attest to that.  But that is what made him….well, Daren.  A bad boy with a good heart.  Isn’t it funny that at my age, 48 that I still feel as though I have bragging rights for the baddest, coolest big brother?

When Daren was young there was more than once that the police ventured out to the farm.  None of his “crimes” were ever bad, just juvenile pranks that usually resulted in damaged property.  I won’t lie, I thought it so cool!  If people ever teased me at school I would be like, “stop teasing me or I will sic Daren on you!”.  Of course, they had NO idea who he was but the stories of his antics (I may have embellished upon) usually quieted them quickly!

Or the times that he would drive around the farmyard in the TRACTOR whipping COOKIES…I mean really sit back and envision that!  Tractor and “whipping cookies” just don’t relate…but Daren managed it!  My dad would come from the barn hollering for him to stop (knowing he was going to break another tractor) and Daren would…eventually, and every time he walked away laughing.  My dad would just there shaking his head and say quietly…..”oh that kid” or simply, “Daren”.

Another time, I was sleeping by my brother Randy (truly a saint!…as I was always scared to sleep by myself at night) and we had the window open as it was summer, and I’m assuming we didn’t have air).  Regardless, the bed was right under the window. In the middle of the night I awoke to yelling and commotion…and flew from the bed!  In the dark I couldn’t quite make out what was happening but once my eyes adjusted, I saw Daren shaking Randy by the shoulders and head through the window!  Keep in mind that the window was on the second story!  My brother had put the ladder up (that had conveniently been laying on the ground outside the window), and scaled the ladder to wake his brother.  He coerced Randy into sneaking out….of course, Daren was up to mischief!  Randy, ever the saintly brother went along and did his best to keep them out of trouble that night…and many nights!

That was one side of my brother.

The other was the one where he let us crawl on his lap (for as long as he could sit, which wasn’t long, he never seemed to stop moving), or the MANY times he helped us put together our Christmas gifts.  Or the guy who loved to play board games with us.  He teased and chided us, mostly in a fun way.  He was protective of us, although at times I am sure the lot of us younger siblings seemed annoying.

That was Daren.  You could see the mischief in his smile, and the eyes that held just a twinkle of naughtiness that was ever his trademark.  But also in his eyes was a softness, and a vulnerability beyond measure.  For all the times he acted out, I believe it was a defense mechanism of sorts.  I believe that his short life held hardships that even the strongest have a hard time adjusting to.  His mother died when he was just 6, and then a life that followed where I don’t believe he ever felt that he quite “fit”.  My mom and he had a difficult relationship, only easing and finding a common ground just shortly before he died (the irony in that).  But the years in between were hard for him.  He was hard to understand, and even harder to control.  Dad did his best along with my grandparents.

You may think he sounds “bad”.  Truly, I believe that he was just ‘broken’, and broken people do things that are misunderstood by many.  In my mind, there was so much beauty in him, as I believe that each day was a challenge for him.  I believe that each day he struggled to find a peace within himself, and yet he never gave in to weakness.  Each day he put himself back together.  His strength immeasurable, although his actions misunderstood.  He was damaged, and yet he knew how to survive.

I think that for me, the irony in the fact that he was one of the most normal, and probably troubled souls in his own way, leading to his ‘unsaintly’ image is somehow poetic that he shares his birthday month with saints that we are to honor.  I feel like it gives a realness to life.  And I also think that even though he wasn’t perfect, this month is fitting as he was a saint to me.  Right now if Randy is reading this he is raising an eyebrow at the one.  😉  But it is true, I idolized Daren in every way (as much as I idolized, and still do so today with Randy!).  When I was older, and saw him less often I would sit mesmerized by Daren.  Don’t get me wrong, there were times when I was young that I was a bratty sister as well.  And he LOVED to tease.  And more than once I got him in trouble, something I regret now as his punishments were often unfair at the hands of mom.  All these years later, those things still haunt me. I look back and wish I would’ve been the perfect little sister.  It is amazing what time teaches us.

More than all of that, he is in my heart for all my life.  His picture may hang on my wall, but today is still his day….and that thought leaves me with a sad smile.

Happy birthday today to my baddest, biggest brother with all my heart.

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