From the Perspective of a Brother

From the Perspective of a Brother

A Story by Byron Patterson
"

Being a brother is tough... Experience Jackson's recount of his life with his younger brother Landon as he gradually discovers what being a brother truly means.

"

The hospital is a cold, disgusting place full of sick people...dying people...hopelessness...tragedy...but it gave this world a reason to keep turning. As the doctor, or doc as he liked to be called, my grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles seemed to move in slow motion. I was engulfed by a sea of flailing limbs that could hardly wait to brush the cheeks of life itself. Smiles stretched across faces that were otherwise battered, beaten, and exhausted from what seemed like weeks without a wink of sleep. I suddenly saw my entire life flash before my eyes...only the future was there too. I could see birthdays, vacations, Christmases, crying, laughing, yelling, and everything in between. Despite the cold, it was at this moment that I first felt a chill running down my spine. My mind was clouded by joyful fear of what's to come. I remember standing up slowly and walking towards the commotion at a distance from the rest of the group. Watching their excitement put a smile on my face despite the show that my brain was putting on in the form of a totally fabricated future. Either for fear of losing the group or expression of ecstasy - I can't for the life of me decide - I started running just like everybody else. For whatever reason I looked back the way we had come and it occurred to me that nobody could care less that their things were left behind. Before turning my head back I was able to catch a glimpse of the greatest and warmest smile I've ever seen, even greater and warmer than the smiles of my entire family that same day; Doc's face was electric as he watched us practically sprint to greet the new visitor. I don't know why Doc was so happy. After all, I doubt that this was his first rodeo. He's probably delivered dozens of babies to dozens of families who had very similar reactions. Yet I could feel that this was special...somehow this was different...

If I didn't know any better I'd say I was transported from that point to my mother's side. Everybody was suddenly looking at me with anxious stares. The five minutes were a total blur and I just said, "Landon."

My father hugged me tight. "That's a wonderful name, Jackson."

 In anticipation of the day I must have read hundreds of names with all kinds of meanings. According to the book, Landon means "long hill". It was definitely not the name that I had chosen prior to the date, but I had a sudden compulsion to say "Landon" which would pretty much pave the path that I was destined to take with my brother. However, no matter how long the hills got, there was always a great ride back down. I can still remember my first words to my brother...

 

 

On his eighth birthday I didn't get him anything, just like all the years prior. I was working at the time as a retail employee a few days out of the week earning decent money for someone my age. Everything kept coming up like paying for car insurance or buying the latest video game that stopped me from making up my selfishness. This oxymoron plagued me for roughly 150 days until I scratched up the money and attitude to get my brother tickets to go see his favorite football team play. Tickets to a football game are almost always expensive...but I suppose brothers are almost always a pain in the a*s... After the team was done losing, Landon gave me the warmest hug he's ever given me. I dismissed him and began complaining about all of the missed opportunities during the game and how that season was going to be a bust. I then proceeded to scold Landon for not even caring that our team lost.

A few years later I would look back and realize just how much better of a person my brother was and is than I. He didn't give a damn whether we won or lost the game, he wasn't concerned with the injury of our star quarterback, he didn't even care about the amazing seats that we sat in that I worked so hard to pay for. He wanted to show me how much he appreciated my thought and love of him. He wanted to thank me for experiencing with him a moment that he would remember for the rest of his life. Our team that year would go on to win the Super Bowl...

 

 

I remember the first gift he ever got me... Believe it or not it was a video game. It was a platformer, my most hated game genre, and it only cost him $15 since it was outdated and didn't sell too well. I never played that game...I tossed it aside the day he gave it to me and continued playing Mario Kart. I wish I still had that game... He payed for it using what little allowance he had made during the previous couple weeks. He took out the trash, cleaned dishes, helped put away groceries, vacuumed, pretty much slaved at the hands of our parents just waiting for the day that he could ask to go to the store and get me a present for my eighteenth birthday. He was only 10! I didn't purchase my first gift for someone until I was 13 or 14, and I used money that I was just given for Christmas and other holidays by our grandparents. God, how I wish I had played that game...

 

 

Fast forward to when I was 27 and Landon was 19 and in college. I had been married to my beautiful wife for a couple years and we were 3 months away from having our first baby. Landon would call me and vent to me whenever he needed to about school and how difficult it was to juggle his girlfriend, his education, and money. That year my Honda Accord that I had had since I first started driving was finally laid to rest.  Feeling somewhat defeated and helpless, I called my little brother and he immediately said hang in there and hung up the phone. I would try and call him later that day just to find him ringing my doorbell. He lent me his beautiful Mustang that he had been saving up for since he was 13 years old. Selfish as I am I never did give that car back to him. He didn't mind though, cause he just wasn't much of a worrier. For the rest of college he walked, biked, and hitched rides, I'm sure all the while thinking about how much I must have appreciated him giving me his car. I ended up wrecking that car on my way home from the bar quite a few years later during a rough patch. God, how I wish I thanked him for that car...

 

 

Speaking of rough times, shortly after that accident I lost my job and my wife and I were struggling to make ends meet. We were about to lose the house and we couldn't just live out on the street with 3 kids. A good brother would offer for us to stay at his house until we got back on our feet; a great brother would pay our rent for a couple months until I found a job; nothing could compare to my brother. Landon, being the smart person he was, had started up his own company right out of college and was doing extremely well for himself. He bought the house we were renting and didn't charge us a dime to live there; we lived there for 10 years after that. God, I sure wish I had that big of a heart...

 

 

We moved out of that house because we wanted so badly to be back together with the family. two of the kids were off to college and the other was just starting high school. We figured we should make sure our youngest son had a good relationship with his grandparents and uncle. Once we moved back I distinctly remember my wonderful, baby brother Landon giving me a huge bear hug and telling me how happy he was to have us back in town, and this time indefinitely. We went to the bar that night and we shared our lives with one another while hoisting a few. I couldn't help but notice that he was putting down cash every time the bar tender brought another drink. I asked why he was paying and why he wasn't letting me pay after all he had done for me over the years. He simply said that, "It's a celebration! It's so good to have you back!" I definitely cried when he said that. I would cry again when I realized that the whole night he had done nothing but buy me beers...he didn't have a single sip. God, I wish I had the integrity to pay him back...

 

 

There are a lot of gaps in between, but I'm sure it can be assumed that throughout the entirety of my life Landon has done nothing but give and give no matter the situation. Of course I had a tendency to take and take. I'm just glad I can't take from him anymore... I'm just glad that his wife and kids have the same spirit... Now that Landon is gone, I can't help but think back at all that he's done for me. His heart, although apparently weak, was so big...so authentic...so beautiful...

 

 

As I looked down at my brand new best friend, I couldn't help but forget the world and focus my mind on that moment. I held him in my arms for the first time and felt the chilling presence of a tear on my cheek dropping down to the amazing-person-to-be below. I leaned down and ever so gently felt my lips on his head. I pulled away slowly and just stared at the most beautiful face I had ever seen until my eyes burned from not blinking. Completely forgetting about anyone else in the room - my grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles - I whispered what I thought was a promise from me to him at the time, but was in actuality a prediction of his inevitable fate: "I promise to be the best brother ever..."


© 2017 Byron Patterson



Author's Note

Byron Patterson
I'm looking for any and all feedback! Thanks so much!

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Featured Review

This was so moving--gave me honest-to-God goosebumps. Don't know if this was written from life experience or not, but that feeling of being inadequate is so relatable. I appreciate that you don't hit the reader over the head with too much information about Landon's death. Rather, this is a piece about the brother's feelings towards Landon in the aftermath. There's a sense of how we tend to idolize people once their gone, and you really capture that regret--so many moments the brother felt selfish or like an opportunity was missed.

From a structural standpoint, I like how you begin in the hospital at Landon's birth and end there as well with that prophetic statement. I wish there was a little more detail. Usually right before the paragraphs end with an ellipsis...I just want to know more about what happened, like the time he crashed the Mustang.

I also wonder who the audience is for this piece? It's from the brother's perspective, obviously he's reminiscing. I think it might be interesting if this was written as a eulogy, something the brother read at the funeral. Just a suggestion!

Posted 5 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Byron Patterson

5 Months Ago

Thanks so much LeeCB for your feedback. My intended audience was definitely brothers. The piece stem.. read more



Reviews

I like the detail of your opening, and found myself wanting more with each story you shared. I found the last scene of your adult brother, at the bar, particularly heart-warming, but again would like more detail! Also, there's a lot of attention on how wonderful the younger brother is, but it would be nice to see a more fleshed out narrator. Let the audience see how the younger brother truly affected the narrator.

Posted 5 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This comment has been deleted by the poster.
Laura

5 Months Ago

I will!

I thought of this piece this afternoon as my good friend shared the news that.. read more
Byron Patterson

5 Months Ago

Congratulations to your friend! I have the highest levels of respect for anybody that's a parent! I'.. read more
This was so moving--gave me honest-to-God goosebumps. Don't know if this was written from life experience or not, but that feeling of being inadequate is so relatable. I appreciate that you don't hit the reader over the head with too much information about Landon's death. Rather, this is a piece about the brother's feelings towards Landon in the aftermath. There's a sense of how we tend to idolize people once their gone, and you really capture that regret--so many moments the brother felt selfish or like an opportunity was missed.

From a structural standpoint, I like how you begin in the hospital at Landon's birth and end there as well with that prophetic statement. I wish there was a little more detail. Usually right before the paragraphs end with an ellipsis...I just want to know more about what happened, like the time he crashed the Mustang.

I also wonder who the audience is for this piece? It's from the brother's perspective, obviously he's reminiscing. I think it might be interesting if this was written as a eulogy, something the brother read at the funeral. Just a suggestion!

Posted 5 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Byron Patterson

5 Months Ago

Thanks so much LeeCB for your feedback. My intended audience was definitely brothers. The piece stem.. read more

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Added on June 3, 2017
Last Updated on June 3, 2017
Tags: Family, Brother, Love




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