So, today would have been my brother's 27th birthday
,either 27th or 28th (I can't remember if he was born in '77 or '78)
, except he died in 1984. This photo is of him getting on the van to go to kindergarten (we lived off the beaten path and went to Catholic school, so we rode a van instead of a bus). My brother would have been much better looking and much smarter than I am—you could just tell. But alas and alack and all that. He would have been around the same age as my cousin, the one with the cute baby
, as they were buddies when they were little.
I really don't remember much from my growing-up years, just snapshots of times and places and never entire incidents or whatever it is people remember. For instance, I remember the entire layout of the children's ward at Hershey Medical Center, which makes sense because my parents were there with my brother for the vast majority of his life. I remember there was a pinball machine and an aquarium in the lobby/waiting area (for visitors) and the rec room (for the patients) which was very brightly lit and had all manner of toys and crafts in it—and the laserdisc player. Michael Jackson's "Thriller" short film (the one with The Making of Michael Jackson's Thriller
) was very popular. Hey, it was the early '80s. Don't judge. Anyway, I remember that room.
All the time my parents were with my brother in the hospital—which was 71 miles from our house—I either stayed with a neighbor family or my grandmothers. I didn't stay often with the fundie grandmother, mostly with the paranoid schizophrenic grandmother. I liked the latter grandmother better, actually. I didn't know she was a whack job until years later, whereas I've never been a big fan of my other grandmother. I'm not sure why I was shuffled between the three places, probably because my parents didn't want to burden any one family with taking care of me
while they were off with my brother, which makes sense. I couldn't tell you if I stayed equal amounts of time at the three different places, I just remember staying more with my one grandmother than anyone else. No clue if that's true. But what I do know is that no other relatives—or the church, to which my family had given scads of financial support for three generations of good Italian Catholics—stepped up to help my parents, so I didn't have any other options. I'm sure I wasn't the greatest kid to deal with at the time, but hello, family with terminally ill child? Anyway. That's a good chunk of the reason why my family is neither close nor religious. I learned all about hypocrisy at a young age.