Today is my brother Bill's 66th birthday. Happy Birthday Bill! This post is for you. I love you.
My oldest brother, Steve, died in a tragic car accident at the age of 17, just seven days before my brother Bill turned 16. It was 50 years ago this July. This isn’t my story. I wasn’t even born yet. This is a story I’ve asked Bill to tell me over and over.
"I had been waiting all week until Friday after school to drive my car for the first time by myself. Steve had died just seven days before my 16th birthday. When I got home from school, my car was gone. I was bumming out big time. Mom said Dad took it to work and he would be home by six. I sat on our side porch waiting for him. At around 5:30 I see my car coming down the road at about two miles an hour (our dad was infamous for driving slow on our dirt roads to keep from kicking up dust). From the porch, I notice something different with the wheels and tires. When Dad pulls in the driveway, I see four new, red stripe, wide, oval tires mounted on four new, chrome reverse wheels with chrome spinners. It looked GOOOD. He also had an 8-track tape player mounted under the dash with two chrome speakers in the rear window deck. My 1963 Olds Dynamic 88 only had an am radio. I had to hold back the tears. I thanked him and I was gone."
Bill told me he thought maybe Dad was never going to let him drive when he got home, and his car was gone. In the depths of his grief, my dad tricked out Bill’s car to surprise him for his sixteenth birthday. He did this just seven days after losing his first-born son in a car accident. And then my father watched as Bill drove off, after watching Steve drive off the week before not knowing it was going to be the last time he saw him alive.
In honor of my brothers, Bill and Steve, let’s all just live a little bit bigger today. Let’s love a little bit harder. Let’s stretch the resiliency of our beautiful human hearts. What can we make more beautiful and send off into the world with no guarantees?
Much love, Rachelle