Monday, August 14, 2006

Sibling Stories

I am blessed to have two siblings—a brother and a sister. And, in my view, I am blessed to be the eldest, which means I have accumulated “the stories” of the doings of these siblings. I thought about holding this post until May or June (when, respectively, my brother’s and sister’s birthdays are) but that is WAY too long considering the urge I have to recount a few stories.

Let’s concentrate on brother stories. My brother, Daryl, is five years my junior. (It should be noted that between us was a sister, Dorothy, who died at age 7 months as the result of malaria fever. I think most kindly of Bill Gates and
his efforts to eradicate malaria. Also, of marvelous researchers like Dr. Phil Thuma who is working in Zambia toward that same end.)

Perhaps like any older sib, I somewhat resented my brother’s arrival in this world. I tend to think that it had much to do with the manner of his arrival. My parents were missionaries in
Zambia (then called Northern Rhodesia) at the time, and since the mission station (Sikalongo) was some distance from the nearest hospital, at Victoria Falls, my mother and another missionary woman, went to Vic Falls some days in advance of the expected birth date. Of course, I was along “for the ride.” When my mother went into labor, it was sometime during the night, so the other missionary woman and Mother bundled into the mission truck, with me, and drove off to the hospital. Both women went in to check my mother in, leaving me, sleeping, in the truck. You guessed it. . .while they were gone, I awoke and freaked. At least, that’s what my memory tells me. Then, when presented with a brother as a reason for my having been abandoned, I wasn’t quite mollified.

Fast forward three years, and picture my brother, now a toddling three year old, on the mission station. One day, I was sent off to find him, which I did. He was squatting under the mission bell, a large bell elevated on a tower. There was Daryl hunkered down, with a small stick which he was poking at a baby snake. Daryl urged the snake on saying “Go, snaky, go!” Rule of thumb, all snakes should be considered poisonous until otherwise determined.

Fast forward a few more years, and we are now living in Zimbabwe (then called Southern Rhodesia). I am attending Eveline High School, an all girls' school in Bulawayo. Daryl is a new boarder attending Hillside Elementary School, on the other side of town. Sundays was free time for us high schoolers, so I rode the bus across town to get to Daryl’s school in time for visiting hours. We played together, for however long the visiting time lasted, and then I would have to leave to get the bus back to my school. Daryl was always loathe to part, so he would take a ball we had been playing with, and chuck it some distance, and then say plaintively (yes, that’s how I recall it)—“Fetch the ball, Donna; fetch the ball!”

My goodness, the world of blogging enables one to recall for all the world (or at the least few readers of a blog) the quaint stories of one’s brother. But, just in case you missed it, I do love him! Next time on siblings stories—my sister.


Mike McCormick said...

I enjoyed this post - well written! Not everybody can work "freaked" and "mollified" into the same paragraph so seamlessly!

Climenheise said...

As the brother in question, I enjoyed the memories. They more or less tally with mine -- except that I don't remember the birth thing. I am assured that it occurred, and can believe that you were indeed stranded in the dark. So long as that isn't a metaphor for your life. Waiting for my brother? Worse than waiting for Godot.

I have fewer memories of my older sister -- the curse of being younger. I do remember tossing things on your desk up and down at Messiah -- you a teacher and I a student -- as you say, "Stop fidgeting!" I remember that you spent a significant amount of time in bed at Matopo with rheumatic fever. I have some thought that you once enjoyed sprinting, and playing goalie in field hockey. I'd like to see you do either now!

Thanks for the memories.


KGMom said...

On my brother's recollection of spending time with me while I had rheumatic fever--there is one story connected to that.
During that time, I worked hard to teach you not to lisp. I would say, "Daryl, say YES." You responded--YETH. And I said, "No, YES." So it went back and forth, until I told you to close your teeth and then say YES. Success at last!