Over the next few days I’d like to share a story with you. George is my 3rd brother, the oldest of my mother’s set of boys. (I have 2 older brothers with a different mother). He has inspired me with his accomplishment of his dream. One obtained despite many difficulties thrown his way. My hope is that his story will inspire you to climb any mountain you are facing!
This is me and George. I am 3 years old. After enjoying the comfort of being the only child it was time for me to learn how to be a big sister. My mother says that I loved my little brother and liked to help. There’s even a picture where he slept in my doll cradle! He was my own living doll. Soon another brother joined our family. Now I was surrounded by boys. As we grew my brothers became my only friends. The church school & church our family attended had no girls my age or even near my age. I quickly learned to become one of the boys. My love for dolls and playing house was quickly replaced with climbing trees, cowboys and Indians, dinosaurs and war.
We spent many hours outside in our big backyard. Alliances were made. Enemy lines drawn. Wars fought. Peace made. Day-in and Day-out. We played. Together. Outside was a magical wonderland. A place of safety for us. A world where we could be anything we wanted to be with no boundaries. In the safety of our backyard we were safe from the pain that overwhelmed us inside.
It was during these years my brother discovered rocks. To most of us they are just that: ROCKS. To my brother…they are something that brings him peace and completeness. He began to read about rocks. Collect rocks. He no longer wanted to play in just the backyard. He wanted to be in the foothills exploring. Our backyard became a place of rocks. All arranged according to type and size. All labeled. Correctly.
School became a place he dreaded. "He’s not meeting his potential" was common on his report card. (Surprisingly, mine was that I would not quit talking in class!) A very intelligent little boy became branded as a child who just didn’t care. Somewhere along the way he was written off by his peers, the teachers…and our father.
What they didn’t know is what my mother knew. This boy was smart. His academic achievement test revealed that only 2% of the average kids his age were smarter than he in science. But that didn’t matter. He was just average in writing and that made him…well, average. It didn’t matter to them that while they were trying to get him to write poetry and analyze boring books he was reading a college-level chemistry book…and UNDERSTANDING it. He just didn’t fit their mold…and he fell into the world of average.
I remember hours watching him sort rocks. Our favorite activity was smashing thundereggs apart finding a treasure inside. When we ran out of those we’d start smashing other rocks. Sometimes we’d find nothing. But sometimes…we’d find a treasure. After a bit my fascination ended. But George. He never quit. Church members began to realize his love for rocks. They told him he could be a geologist. But silently, I knew. How would he ever get to be a geologist? Our family just wasn’t college-bound people. While he listened to others and developed his dream, even I silently quit believing he could be whatever he wanted to be. My idyllic thoughts of childhood were replaced by the logical sentiments of a scarred and broken teenager simply trying to survive life.
It was during this time that my brother began to become somewhat "anti-social". He no longer preferred the company of people. (NOT that I didn’t relate to that sentiment!) He preferred to be alone, outside. A world of rocks, animals and open air. The foothills surrounding Boise provided plenty of opportunity for that. Our family spent a majority of the summer weekends camping. We were allowed free-reign of the area. I found myself following my brother through creek beds, up steep hills and down into deep ravines. Searching. Exploring. He always pointing out limestone. Sandstone. Me…always forgetting the next second. I just wanted to be away from my fighting parents. It didn’t dawn on me that I REALLY didn’t like dragging my backside up a mountain.
When I left home at age 16 my relationship with my brother was cordial at best. By this time I simply wanted to be anywhere but home. My father had successfully made my life a living hell. My mother, who I adored, had simply quit living and was barely surviving. My brothers fought. My sister was fighting for her life as the youngest. I simply quit caring. I tried to ignore the guilt I felt. That I was ignoring their pain. My siblings. The ones that deep down I wanted to protect and fight for. Instead I left. Without looking back.
My family moved to Ohio after I left. I don’t know much about my brother’s last years in our family. I do know that he became severely depressed. I do know that at one point he was flunking out of high school. I know that my mom became worried he’d never see 18…that either he’d kill himself from the depression, from the accidents he was so prone to or that our father would kill him. Severely depressed herself, my mother was simply surviving trying to raise 3 kids (essentially alone), work a full-time job and get a degree. I was half-way across the country. Trying to figure out who I was. Trying to learn how to be a wife. And every night I’d pray that God would protect my siblings. That somehow they’d find a way out of the place I called hell.
Mercifully my brother landed in a vocational program. He spent the mornings learning the basics. The afternoon learning a skill. He had a few close friends. Finally graduation day came. I was there. My brother made it. I was proud of him. After graduation I went with him as he tried to find a job using his skills. We quickly learned that Ohio has issues…
Eventually my brother moved back to Idaho and found work making doors. My father followed him. I was thrilled to have him out of Ohio, a place I found to be the armpit of America. Then the day my mother told me that Grace had moved in with him. She was from Ohio. I was pissed. I didn’t want something dragging him back there. I wanted him to have a better life than we had growing up. What I didn’t know then was that Grace…she was his soul mate. When I finally met her I found my brother’s other half. She brings the heart back into him. He brings her calm. She became my sister instantly.
During this time my brother never forgot his dream. He wanted to be a geologist, not a door maker. He too wanted better for his baby daughter, Tiger girl. None of us knew what would happen next. But my brother was about to show us what it means to fight.
To be continued…