My mom asked that her six sons get together. She didn’t say, no one said, you know, one last time, or before it’s too late. She just asked that we come because she wanted to see us, so we made a plan. Some flew in, some drove in, some already live there, but the six of us spent parts of four days together for the first time in a long time. Someone said it had been eight years, someone said it had been longer, but that’s just the kind of thing some people say.
My children were worried that something was wrong with grandpa, and I’m not sure I convinced them otherwise. That thought crossed my mind, too, but actually dad seemed healthier, stronger, more alert than he’s been in years. That’s due to how well my mother takes care of him.
I have a photo from the last time the six of us were together. We look about the same, I guess. There’s just less hair and about 200 pounds more of us. There’s been some divorces and some marriages, some children and some grandchildren. There have been several moves, many career changes, and a lot of ups and downs in all the ways life can change. The one thing that remains, though, the one constant, is that we still make each other laugh.
The highlight of our time together was all the stories. Jeff called them lies, and there was some exaggeration, sure, but mostly it was a lot of “remember that time….” And we do remember the time. We don’t all remember it the same ways, but remember it we do: the time Doodle broke my teeth, the time I stabbed the knife into Gary Jo's foot, the time Jeff cracked Gary Jo upside the head with a baseball bat, the games and fights with neighbors, all the stuff kids do.
My brothers still love TV sports, so there was lots of football and hockey and a little golf. I don’t follow sports anymore, and found the broadcasts dull and uninspired, but it was nice just sitting with them. Of course, we watched on big screen TVs with those recorders that let you skip commercials. When we were boys, if the football Cardinals were at home, we had to go outside and physically turn the antennae, pointing it in the general direction of Cape Girardeau. If it was overcast, the reception was poor, but it improved when one of us actually touched the antennae pole. So we took turns standing out there in the cold, so the others could get the snowy images of our favorite team. What a difference.
I stayed with my brother Jeff and his new wife, Bridget, who took excellent care of us and fed us well. At Gary Jo’s, he showed us his baseball Cardinals room, stuffed with hundreds and hundreds of St. Louis souvenirs from the past 50 years. His basement is wall-to-wall Beatles stuff, everything you can imagine, from dolls to lunch boxes to pins to posters, again, hundreds and hundreds of really cool and rare things.
Doodle is still everyone’s favorite, wherever we went, and if you look at the photos on Facebook, most of the comments are for or about Doodle. I knew I should have learned to tap dance.
We said we would all get together a couple summers from now, and I hope we do.