When I was a little girl, I had two older brothers, and they were a complete mystery to me. They lived in a different world than the one in which I lived. They lived in a world of boys' bicycles, fishing rods, hockey skates, boyish rough-housing and tree-forts. They had a wonderful fort in our back yard, and during the summer evenings they were allowed to sleep out there. It was as remote to me as the surface of the moon. Only once was I ever allowed a glimpse inside their little hideaway, and that was only for a few seconds. It was fabulous -- they had air mattresses and sleeping bags, flashlights, bags of chips and chocolate bars, books -- all the comforts of life. They kept me out of their fort by telling me it was inhabited by spiders as large as dinner plates.
My two older brothers were already graduating from high school when I was still in elementary school, but I enjoyed being part of a family, and having two older brothers. I felt very well-protected; my family made me feel safe. Well, I think that's what families are meant to do.
When I was in grade two, my mother made me a yellow dress. Mom was a wonderful seamstress, and I thought the yellow dress was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. My mother worked on it during the evening, and I went to bed so excited to wear my yellow dress to school the next day. I knew I would be the envy of every little girl there. The next morning, my oldest brother gave me a ride to school on his bicycle. I sat in the basket on the front -- what a sight that must have been. As I was sitting in the basket, I could see the oil and grease from the road was being deposited on the hem of my dress. "Stop! Stop! My dress is getting dirty!" I don't think my brother could hear me, he kept on pedaling. When I got to school, I burst into tears. The teacher asked me what was wrong, and all I could do was show her my beautiful new dress, completely ruined. My mother had worked so hard on it. I sobbed all day. That evening, my brother felt just awful about it. He is a very kind-hearted soul, and he still remembers the incident and how terrible he felt.
My other brother is a born actor, and he used to entertain me for hours, putting on plays and acting out all the parts. As a teenager, whenever he came home from a date with one of his girlfriends, he would do a perfect imitation of the girl's father. I have seen my mother laugh until the tears ran down her face. My brother still has a very warped sense of humor.
Unfortunately, in our family -- on my father's side -- there is a history of genetic ischemic heart disease. Our paternal grandfather died from it at the age of 53. Both of my brothers have inherited it, and last weekend one of my brothers had a heart attack. I am terrified of losing them both, they're my family. They're my big brothers.