The stuff on the shelves had changed, but the feeling I had in that room was the same.
By now you might have heard that my youngest brother, Larry, has passed away. Some would say he lost his battle with COPD; but actually he won. Larry is with Mom and Dad; trying to coax Mom to get on the back of a Harley.
I have lost enough moisture through my tears; my skin looks like an alligator purse. I wish I could tell you I am done crying, but that would be a lie.
We don't lie here at Monner's Mumblings. The stories are true. If the story makes us laugh, we laugh. If the story makes us cry, we cry.
I mentioned in previous stories, Larry loved drag racing. I think I might have pushed him into loving racing. I don't have the love for cars that Larry had. (I like working with wood, not cars.) Larry and I were "opposites attract". I could always call Larry when I was having car problems and ask, "Hey, what do you think is wrong with this (construction language) thing?" He could always call me and ask, "Hey, why don't you wash that (construction language) thing?"
A favorite story of Larry's was when I was his Little League baseball coach. Yes, I am that much older than Larry. Larry's version of the story is I held him to higher standard than I did the rest of the team. My version is; I wanted him to be great. Larry loved to remind me, "I loved playing baseball until you were my coach!" I would reply, "Ah, I just was trying to make Mom and Dad proud of you!"
Me: Larry, keep your mitt on the ground and you will keep the ball from going between your legs.
Larry: Yeah, yeah, yeah!
Me: Larry, I told you to keep your mitt on the ground! Take a lap around the field!
Larry: Why am I the only one on this team that ever has to run laps?
Me: Because I decided! (How's that for reasoning?)
Larry: I QUIT! (CONSTRUCTION LANGUAGE!)
Me: I'm telling Mom you talk like that!
Larry finished the year, but I never had the opportunity to coach him again.
Shortly after my father and brothers (not me, I was black sheep and had other ideas) started a concrete construction business, my oldest brother thought we needed a company fast-pitch softball team.
We had a brother to play first base, a brother to pitch, me to play catcher. The team showed moments of brilliance, but mostly, we were not good. We got better as the pitching brother got better. Me? When I was talking about brilliance, I meant me.
Larry played one game with us, at third base. To the pitching brother's credit, he could throw a ball, rock, pop bottle, shoe, or vegetable harder than anyone in the neighborhood. At least fifty percent of the time he hit what he threw at.
In the game that Larry played, pitching brother hit a batter with the ball, knocking him down. The batter got up from the ground, stared angrily at pitching brother and walked to first base. Somehow, (I don't remember) this batter got to second base. At some point this batter decided to steal third base. Pitching brother pitched the ball to me, I caught the ball and threw it to Larry at third. It would have been great, if Larry had been able to catch it. I hit the sliding baserunner in the side of his head with the ball.
The baserunner got to his feet, using some hateful (construction language) and shoved Larry. That, as it turns out, wasn't such a good idea. After a while order was restored. (No cops.)
Larry: (CONSTRUCTION LANGUAGE) I QUIT! I PLAY ONE (CONSTRUCTION LANGUAGE) GAME WITH YOU AND YOU GET ME IN A (CONSTRUCTION LANGUAGE) FISTFIGHT!
Me: I'm going to tell Mom you talk like that!
I miss you, little brother. Who's going to tell me how to fix my truck?
The morning after Larry passed, Larry's daughter texted me the information to meet the funeral director. I asked if she wanted me to attend. She texted the address.
At the funeral home we were directed to a stairway. At the bottom of the stairway is a room. No windows, just a room with a desk and shelves. I realized I had been in that room before. Once for my mom and once for my son. And now for Larry. God, I hate that (construction language) room.
Our crazy lives!