Burning Barbie for my brother
The voicemail message couldn’t have come at a crazier hour.But is there ever a good time to hear your brother is heading into surgery?I was about five hours out from driving to Topeka, Kan., to drop my dogs off with my parents’ or find a new place to live in 30 days or less when I heard the news.”We’re on the way to the hospital,” said my mom in her message left on my cell phone.”Marty’s appendix burst tonight, and they’re going to do surgery.”My brother was sick, and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. Worse yet, I couldn’t be there for him or my family. That’s the breaks when a girl chooses the mountains over the Midwest.It seemed like just yesterday he caused me to feel the same anxiety. I had this gut-wrenching feeling that didn’t physically hurt, but still left me feeling as nauseous as if I’d eaten an entire box of cream-filled doughnuts.Except “just yesterday” was really almost 30 years ago.The emotions flooded over me as I remembered the day my brother was hit by a car. I was around 5 years old, and some bully kids had chased him into oncoming traffic while he was riding his bike.Anyone who says kids aren’t mean obviously did not grow up on Rosemere Avenue in Indianapolis in the late ’70s.Marty had been rushed to the hospital with a head injury that to my parents’ relief had only amounted to a concussion diagnosis. But still, he was in the hospital, and there was nothing I could do about it.Even at 5, I was a worrier.I just wanted my brother to be better and to come home.I must have been out of mind.I believe that same year he had taken the heads off all my Barbies and hung their plastic, genital-less bodies from my ceiling. And he positioned all the little buckets of cherries from my Hi Ho! Cherry-O game near my pillow so they would spill all over my head.As if headless dolls hanging from the ceiling weren’t enough to traumatize a little sister, he had to top it off with all those freakin’ cherries.My brother and I are about 3 1/2 years apart, and we’ve always had issues with our age and gender difference. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to hang around Marty and his friends.I’m sure that was especially annoying considering I dressed my cat Tiger in baby clothes and pushed him around in a little plastic shopping cart. And I was into Cabbage Patch Kids and unicorns, as opposed to cutting the extremities off Star Wars figures and lighting them on fire.I still don’t get boys.As adults, my brother and I still have power struggles over silly stuff like politics and the fact that he prefers PC over Mac.The nerve.But, over the past 10 days, I can’t think of one difference my brother and I have that makes me not miss him.Or wish he were better.Unfortunately, the burst appendix is not just a burst appendix. There’s a lot of infection, and my brother still remains in the hospital where the nurses and visitors are making him into a madman. Just like my dad, Marty is not one to be gushed over, trust me.Think “Grumpy Old Men” in their 30s.I just want my brother to be better and to come home.There’s not too much I can do about that which adds to the wrenching of my gut. I can only hope his healing progresses so he can tease me about being a hippy from Colorado when I’m home for Christmas.Seriously, if he only knew I can’t go anywhere without taking a hot straightener to my hair and applying lip gloss, preferably the lip-plumping kind. “Hippy” doesn’t exactly come to mind.Life wouldn’t be the same without a good old-fashioned teasing from my big brother. So I wake up every morning hoping today will be the day Marty gets to go home.If I were there, I would welcome him back by hanging naked Barbies from the ceiling in his bedroom. Then I would light them on fire because I know he would like that.Get well soon, Marty.April E. Clark wishes she had a magic pill to make her brother better. She can be reached at 945-8515, ext. 16601.Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado, Colo. CO
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