A Brother

Today’s my brother Tim’s birthday. Mom made those sport coats. And the shirts. Yeah, this is us in front of the first home we ever lived in together. The house was a government surplus prefab job–there were a bunch of them on three terraces above a Bible college campus in the middle of nowhere Northeast Georgia. We were all poor.

But we had something going for us that a lot of kids don’t have today. Imagine two boys growing up in the middle of a thousand wild, forest acres—mostly unsupervised. Mountains, forests, creeks, critters, ponds, caves, waterfalls, trails and all kinds of possibilities.

Of course, I taught him important things like…how to make cigars out of rabbit tobacco and newspapers. He proceeded to make a month’s supply and then lay on the picnic table puffing one just as Dad came home. My bad.

He once shot me in the rear end with a BB gun through a screen door, Dirty Harry style. His bad when Dad got home. But I deserved it. You see, I used to do things like pull tonsil stones out of the back of my month and deadpan, “Hey, can you smell this? I think it smells weird. Do you think it smells weird.” He would smell it and then about fall over gagging. So…yes, I deserved it, but these are things brothers do…

Tim and his sidekick, Johnny, had…interesting imaginations. They once got into the business of trapping. The dynamic duo envisioned a fur and pelt empire. The first bounty of the season were a couple of hapless possums. Such shortcomings were tolerated until they caught the second skunk. I can still see (and smell) that reeking black n’ white blur ‘o fur flying through the air and sliding across our picnic table. That’s the way Mountain Man Tim announced his arrival home from a good day of trappin’. Well, Dad made an executive decision that evening regarding that emerging business venture. And alllll the animals in the forest slept better that night.

Then, Tim and Johnny got into falconry… and purchased a mail order bird from the back of a comic book. Named it, Thor. I used to do falcon impressions for my friends, of the bird’s response to their squeaky, prepubescent voice commands, “Fly Thor, fly!” The monster bird would do an evil, double-head bob, glare both ways, look to the heavens, caw obnoxiously, and then launch to the sky, only to be brought back to earth, and reality, by the leather tether in their little hands. When we moved overseas, Tim got a letter one day from Johnny. “I finally gave Thor what I think he always wanted. Freedom.”

Well, my amazing little brother grew up to be a husband, father, musician, composer, minister, man of God and a friend. Oh, and he’s also getting a doctorate. Soon everyone will be calling him Dr. Bandy.

Sometimes I can’t even believe he still talks to me…

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