Ah the love between a brother and a sister. You know the kind I mean – the kind where the (older) brother convinces his (younger) sister to do something which ultimately almost KILLS said sister and then brother saves sister and the cycle begins again.
I have 3 such stories to share on a lovely overcast day in September.
Sandbars and Road Rash
When I was 7 and my brother was 11 we still lived in Shoreham, NY, a small idyllic village/burb which I’ve mentioned in a few other postings here, here and here. It’s ok – I can wait until you get back, I have coffee.
Done? Good – let’s continue.
So one Saturday my brother convinced me that it would be a lot of fun to bike down the Tribuzio’s driveway at the end of the our street (which was a cul-de-sac) as FAST AS I COULD and then apply my kickback breaks when I get to the other end of the street. Consequently, the street also had a really deep sandbar from the recent rains; which, on Long Island, is every weekend according to my Father.
The Tribuzio’s house was on a hill and their driveway was pretty steep (for a 7 year old on a beach cruiser with kickback breaks and a banana seat). So like a typical younger (stupid) sister, I trusted my brother to know fun and I happily started at the tip of the driveway.
I coasted down the driveway – picking up speed as I flew past the houses on my street. The wind blowing through my hair, feeling free and flying fast, the baseball cards in my spokes flipping a million miles an hour and completely out of control. Ah, the things Emergency Room visits are made of…
As with most events that end up with road rash, time slowed down as I realized I had no way to stop and I was going to hit the sandbar at the end of the street. I jammed on the kickback breaks and my bike slide out under me to my right, I slid down the street on my left side and I saw it…a car coming down James street about to run me over and I don’t think the car could see me because it was bearing straight down the street towards me. My brother jumped out in front of the car and it swerved around both of us only because he saw my brother – and just kept going.
My brother ran to get my mother. They carried me back to the house – I had road rash down the entire length of my left leg, hip, rib cage, forearm and shoulder. My mom had to clean out the sand & gravel with tweezers. I screamed so loudly that the neighbors rushed over to see if my Mom finally snapped and was killing one of us (most likely thinking it was my brother). Once I was all cleaned up – I remember having to lie in bed for a few days without any clothing on because I couldn’t wear any kind of underwear or pants.
I am pretty sure my brother got in loads of trouble over that incident. His saving grace after almost getting me killed is that he did save my life because I do not think that car could see me lying in the road and would have plowed right over me.
Stupid Is as Stupid Does
Now that I have a child and have experienced the terror of him dying, I regret all the things I did in my youth that I specifically forbidden to do. I now realize it was for my safety not because my mom and dad wanted to stifle my development. Well, I regret the things I wasn’t supposed to do before I turned 16 – after that, yeah; it was pretty much to stile my development.
Right now I’m speaking of swimming when my parents weren’t home. We had an in-ground pool when I was growing up in Tucson. Unfortunately, my father worked nights and my mother worked during the day (mostly part time) and during the summer my brother and I were strictly forbidden to swim without an adult. Like the stupid 12 year old I was, I completely ignored this rule and figured I was a ‘good enough’ swimmer to face any challenge in a kidney shaped pool. Little did I know it was a pool cover that was almost my ultimate undoing.
My brother was going to clean the pool one day during the summer – as he was 16 his rules for the pool were a little more lax. We had a solar cover on the pool that had to be removed. So my brother jumped in the shallow end and started to roll the pool cover towards himself whilst pulling it towards the shallow end so that the deep end had about 5 feet of water uncovered. He then proceeded to swim underneath the pool cover to the deep end.
He didn’t notice that I had slipped into the pool and wanted to do what he was doing. So I started to swim under the pool cover too, confident that I had more than enough air in my lungs to make it all the way down the other end of the pool. I happened to look up from my underwater swim and noticed the pool cover was slowly being pulled in the same direction that I was swimming. I realized that I would not be able to make it the length of the pool before I ran out of breath… and of course I completely panicked. Luckily I started thrashing around ‘loud’ enough that my brother realized that I was swimming under the cover and quickly swam to my rescue. I had inhaled a lot of water by that time and scared myself half to death.
To this day – feeling confined in a pool or ‘out of control’ gives me the willies like nothing else.
It Happens in Threes
This last story has elements of the first story combined with elements of the second story. Lucky me.
When we moved out to Tucson, AZ, my family’s closest friends from NY, the Tribuzio’s (of the steep drive in the first story) had moved to Scottsdale, AZ about a year before us. We used to visit them quite a bit when we were growing up. They, too, had an in-ground pool. So we were swimming there one day during the summer and I was minding my own business – floating around in an inner tube…when all of a sudden without warning my brother cannonballed right on top of me. My brother was a body builder in his teen years, so you can imagine what it was like having a 6’0” hulk land squarely on my back and neck.
We went under water and I got stuck somehow in the inner tube and couldn’t sink low enough to push myself to the top nor could I get to the top quickly enough because I’d swallowed a ton of water. I really thought I was going to die – everything felt like it had slowed down and I was filled with terror.
And like an (evil) knight in shining armor, my brother hauled me out from under the water and hurled my torso (inner tube and all) to the cool decking. It took me a really long time before I went in to the deep end again.
Ah brothers – how would a younger sister’s phobias develop without them?