Ever since I was young, I have loved the superhero world. Growing up it was Wonder Woman, Bionic Woman, 6 Million Dollar Man, The Incredible Hulk, McGuyver, Batman and Robin and so on…..
40 some years later, my love for superhero movies continues. I love them all still. Batman, Wonder Woman, and all things Marvel. Many times as I am watching the movies, I am mesmerized by the action of the movie, and the ideal of good overcoming evil! One of my favorite superheroes is definitely Iron Man. How can you not love Tony Stark (aka; Robert Downey Jr)? He’s easily the most conflicted hero of the Marvel franchise, who is always torn between his bad boy side and his tendency to want to do good. Every time I watch a movie with Iron Man, I can’t help but think of my older brother Daren. If Daren were a superhero, it would be Tony Stark/Iron Man.
Daren was easily one of the most charismatic people I have ever known. I remember that when he would walk into a room, he would light it up with his energy. But like Iron Man, Daren always seemed to walk to the beat of his own drum. I remember that he was crazy strong. I would watch him do chores on the farm and he could lift 4 FULL pails of feed, 2 in each hand when he had to do chores. He once helped my dad save me from a crazy pig that was chasing me across a pasture. I remember dad getting to me just before the pig and picking me up and throwing me into Daren’s arms (he was 7 years older). Daren ran me back to safety as dad dealt with the pig. I remember when Daren would come around with his friends (after he had moved out), I thought that he and his friends were the coolest ever. I would lurk close just so that I could be around them (I am positive I was the most super annoying little sister ever). Daren was so much older than me that he always seemed just out of my reach. He was always an enigma to me, which made him even more of a magical hero to me.
If Daren was Iron Man, than my other brother Randy was definitely Captain America, also one of my favorite Marvel characters. Randy was everything Daren was not. Where Daren could seem reckless and random, Randy was calm and consistent. Where Iron Man (Daren) was conflicted, Captain America (Randy) was confident. Randy may not have held the charisma his brother did, but he had a quality more important. He had the ability to calm any storm (which was often my brother Daren, much like Cap and Tony). Randy was our protector who always knew just what to do. I remember when we were kids, he would pull us up the hill on our sleds time and time again, so that we could slide back down again. I remember thinking that he had superhuman strength! When I was little and scared to go to bed at night, he let me sleep by him night after night (what big brother does that, not many?). When things were chaotic at home, he was the one that would take care of us and reassure us. He may not have had that mystical quality to him like Daren held with me, but Randy was more. He was real. He was our everyday hero.
My whole life I have looked to my brothers as my heroes. I will take my last breath believing that I was the luckiest sister ever to have them as my brothers. Fate is a funny thing. By all rights, we should probably not be siblings as both of our parents were each married before to other people. My brothers lost their mother at a young age and then our dad married my mom (after her divorce) and together they had myself and my younger siblings.
My older brothers are mine by chance.
For them, my mother was a challenge. She was difficult at best and yet, she was the only mother they really remember. I am sure that at times, they feel they got cheated. And they did. But I have tried to love them, and admire them even more, to make up for whatever they lost of their childhood, by a chance fate.
A long time ago, we lost Iron Man. I learned young that in the real world, superheroes can die. We lost Daren in what seemed the blink of an eye. Truly one day he was here, the next he was gone. My last memory of him was on a summer day just before my 15th birthday in July, he stopped by the house because he wanted to see Chad (who had just been born a couple months prior). He stopped with a friend. They sat at the dining room table. Mom was cooking. I remember Daren walked over by mom and grabbed a spoon and took a mouthful of food. I couldn’t hear what was said but they both laughed. Mom said they should stay to eat but Daren said they had to go. He peeked one last time at Chad sleeping soundly on the couch (Daren was expecting his own baby in just a couple of months). As he walked by me to leave, he tousled my hair and said “see ya soon” (I was going to see him in a couple weeks for stuff for his wedding). That was the last time I saw Iron Man. He died in a car accident just a few days later. Looking back I am so thankful for this day. Thankful that he and my mom parted this day with a happy end. Thankful he actually got to see his littlest brother. And thankful that I have this last memory of him.
Captain America took up the reigns as big brother/superhero alone after that. To say that he excelled in that role is an understatement. To this day when I see Randy, my heart warms and I am always excited to sit with him and share our lives. I am the luckiest girl ever to have a superhero brother that was given to me as a chance gift.
As for Daren, he will always be 22 and the coolest, baddest yet, greatest brother ever. That is where he left us, and our memories from long ago are the ones we carry forward when we think of him, which is often. His picture hangs on my wall and each time I walk by it, I remember something from my childhood with him and it always makes me smile. He will always be Iron Man in my heart.
And I will always have bragging rights that I was the first one to have ‘real world’ Iron Man and Captain America as my brothers.