It’s a cool fresh morning as I sit on the balcony; contemplating my walk to the corner for coffee and the papers. It is quite mild in my eyrie as I ponder how many layers of clothes I need to put on before tackling the chill of the day.
You were the eldest of my siblings. born in the middle of WW11 and torn by the tug of war between the love of our mother and the selfish, grasping attention seeking of Dad’s parents.
You would have been a toddler before you ever met Dad when he came home from the war, I cannot imagine what it was like; meeting your father for the first time in those circumstances.
My thoughts this morning, were drawn to a time long ago, when I sat with you as you tried to wrestle milk from the recalcitrant Jersey cow in the muddy, milking bay.
It was a clear morning, just like today, my teeth were chattering in the cold, and I was trying to climb the railings to get closer to the sun. You laughed at me and with your superior scientific knowledge, tried to explain to me, that the world warmed from the ground up. I don’t whether you were right or wrong but it didn’t matter much, you told me and I believed you.
The cow kicked the bucket and milk sloshed over the concrete bay as you quickly tried to save what was left of your morning toil.
We both knew the punishment if you went back to the house with less than the usual amount for the morning. There would be dark mutterings about your ineptitude, and; if things were not good on the home front this morning, the belt may well be whisked from our father’s trousers and you would be heading off to school with red welts on your arse as you sat uncomfortably, on the hard seats of the old, green Austin bus for the five Kilometer trip to the village.
You were my special big brother at that magical time, I was old enough to appreciate your protection and I savored the time with you as you finished your last year at Primary School, before being sent off to Boarding school for your secondary education.
There were eight years and two other children between you and I. You guarded me from the mood swings and rages of Jerry and tried to protect me from the excesses of our Father’s rages.
There were the times when I could sit in the safety and warmth of the lounge room and listen as you practiced on the piano. Even at my young age I could tell you had a love and gift for music. It was your retreat from the coarseness of the farm yard where you were expected to do the work of a man before and after school. Being with you at these times; provided a secure and warm haven for me.
Many years later, when I would sit with you, as you lay dying, ravaged by the scourge of AIDS at its worst I would remember these times, and try to put out of my mind the times in between, when your gentleness and love betrayed you and many in your family.
My thoughts as I write this, are conflicted, but the love and warmth I had for you as a young child lingers