Catching part of the Sunday afternoon football games today snagged me back to a childhood memory of my brother.
Frankie was too "precious" to lend himself to football, or so my mother decided. She was saving him for baseball. She knew he was a gifted athlete even at an early age.
Frankie loved football so my mother, to keep her only child happy, bought him one of the very first "electric" football games by Tudor.
He would play this insipid little game for hours.
The game came with 2 sets of football players with their color coded teams. The little men were all set to go. All you had to do was plug the aluminum "stadium" in and watch the little tiny football players shake across the playing field.
Instead my brother with my mother's help, bought a set of tiny bottles of oil paint along with a pack of the littlest paint brushes I can ever remember seeing. Tiny bottles of red, green , blue, black, gray were lined up on a shelf made especially for the paints and brushes.
My mother would spread a white sheet out on the kitchen table where my brother performed his cosmetic surgery on these little men.
Frankie would sit there hour after hour painstakingly painting each and every one of those teeny football men.
First he would paint their helmets, then their shoulders, then their jerseys, then the number on top of that. One by one these little miniature football players took on a coat of shiny new paint displaying the team colors my brother had chosen.
He couldn't be interrupted during this process. You couldn't stand near him, couldn't talk to him and certainly couldn't touch these little men.
This just wasn't a toy. It was too serious. My mother's reaction was just as profound as my brother's. It was as if she were watching him play football without the fear of injury. They somehow had created life, or so it seemed. My mother and brother at times seemed like a couple. You know the type, knowing glances at each other, inside jokes only they understood. They were in synch to the exclusion of everyone and everything around them. How I envied this bond.
When the little men were painted he would line them up on opposing sides and announce the teams, their names, and their rankings.
He would then line them up on the field of scrimmage, complete with a mini quarterback with the brown painted football under his arm, turn on the black switch and watch the little men gyrate across the aluminum football field. They didn't move very fast. The vibrator under the green table was probably equivalent to 3 electric toothbrush vibrations.
It was an amazing thing to watch although watching was all I was ever allowed to do. I was never allowed to touch these figures in or out of the box. They were Frankie's.
He just didn't paint these figures once, he would paint them over and over again. This became a ritual, an obsession.
If I longed for a mother in my life, longing for a brother to share things with and play with was right up there with it. The distance between my brother and myself was always there, not only because of the abuse. Having a brother that could have helped decipher my childhood, instead of contributing to the mystery of it, will always hold a void.
In his defense, he reacted to me the way my mother did. He took his cues from her. You can't really blame him, then anyway. He was a child misled by my mother. Present day is a different story.
Memories like this bring me to the present.
Some people wonder why I don't hate men because of the incidents of abuse. Yes my sexual preference is for women, but I do love men.
These days I am blessed to have the greatest male friends who have taken my brother's role above and beyond my wildest dreams.
Men like Richard and Gilles transcend male or female. It is their souls that speak to me and bond with me.
My friend John, Jill's husband, who shares his "toys" with me, his cars, his dog, his truck, his love of baseball, his time, his friendship.
Sid, Karen's husband, who to me is the epitome of maleness. He is the consummate father, husband and gentle-man and has been a role model for husband, father and friend.
I am reminded of the great line by a hero of mine, Carrie Link who says, " Not enough has been made"......
I say, "Not enough has been made of the men in my life."