Poetry Friday: For My Brothers

h1 October 10th, 2008 by jules

Yesterday would have been my brother Donnie’s 38th birthday. I miss him fiercely.

He was many wonderful things to many people and brightened others’ lives in many ways, and one of the things he did was play classical guitar. He had just taken a break from earning his doctorate at The University of Memphis when he died. He made beautiful music. There are lots of pictures of him at recitals, all decked out in a tux. But this battered old one here, which I just scanned after I pulled it out of its frame, has always been my favorite. It’s a picture of him that someone snapped probably without him knowing it. He’s playing on the back deck of the little house we lived in when we were in high school. Bless my soul and yours, too, wasn’t he handsome?

This poem has always made me think of the way he played. I think I’ve shared it before here—maybe possibly perhaps—but it’s a beautiful piece of writing, always worth sharing again:

“The Guitarist Tunes Up” by Frances Darwin Cornford

With what attentive courtesy he bent
Over his instrument;
Not as a lordly conquerer who could
Command both wire and wood,
But as a man with a loved woman might,
Inquiring with delight
What slight essential things she had to say
Before they started, he and she, to play.

And, because we should always always focus on the living, let me also share that it’s my brother Steve’s birthday today. He is also a wonderful human being, one of the most devoted people I know. I can’t find a poem that does justice to how I feel about him. I’ll have to work on that. But for now, I’ll share this picture of him from when he was little. Good thing he doesn’t read my blog (I think??), ’cause he might kill me for this. YIKES. I take my chances. Life is short; I’ll live a little here.

This picture (circa 1973) cracks. me. up. so. hard. that it makes me want to fall on the floor, snort a lot, slap the floor a few times, flail about a bit more, and then I think I might have heart failure. I even framed it and see it daily, but it STILL MAKES ME LAUGH EVERY DAY. It will never cease being funny in my world, will never get old to me. See how cool this little guy is with that toy? He is unstoppable. He is a tremendous bad-ass, my friends.

Is that Evil Knievel?

I’m not terribly religious but have always felt terrifically blessed to have had them as older brothers. Like some higher something-or-other power was perhaps looking out for me or maybe I did something particularly great in a past life, if such things occur. Really, a girl couldn’t get any luckier. They set my standards for how men should behave in this world. And those standards are high.

Happy birthday to them both.

The Poetry Friday round-up today is being handled by the very prolific Anastasia Suen over at Picture Book of the Day. You can mosey on over there for some poetry goodness.

30 comments to “Poetry Friday: For My Brothers”

  1. I concur with you on big brothers. They’re terrific! I know that this must be a bittersweet day for you, so please know that I’m thinking of you and sending big hugs your way.

  2. Thank you for sharing both of these pictures. And for letting us meet your brothers. Handsome, talented, and bad-ass. What more could a younger sister want?

    Hugs to you and your family.

  3. How cute are these guys? What a gift, to be a little sister — to have been teased and cherished, and to look back with love. Sending you hugs, you have been graced indeed. xo

  4. TadMack, you forgot “and tickled.” Lordamercy, all the severe tickling nearly killed me. It is a form of torture.

    Thanks, you all.

  5. Beautiful post, Jules. I still miss Donnie so much, and as much as I try not to play the “what could have been” game, I often find myself thinking of how different life would be if he’d stayed with us. I love you, girlie!

  6. What a sweet, sweet post.

    I’m the oldest of four “kids” (haha) in our family, so I don’t have any of the my-big-brother stories. But I do know how strongly and fiercely and tenderly the feelings can flow in the other direction. (In July, we went to a family wedding in Maryland. The four of us, and spouses, hung around for a couple more days — just us, no kids or other distractions, for the first time in probably 20 years. As much as we love the kids and the other distractions, I’ve gotta say I can’t remember a dinner i enjoyed so thoroughly.)

    Both pix (and your writeup, Jules) broke my heart, in different directions. The poem is perfect.

  7. Jules,

    This is a touching and lovely post. Thanks for sharing the poem and telling us about you older brothers. My mother, the eldest of four children, lost a brother and a sister in young adulthood. Fortunately, like you, she holds on to happy memories of days spent with them when she was young. In fact, it was through her stories that I learned about my wonderful Uncle Stanley who passed away when I was just two years old.

    Happy Birthday to your brother Steve!

  8. Wow, I’ve been following your amazing blog for awhile now, but nothing has socked me in the gut like this post. Thank you for getting personal. I lost my mom earlier this year and haven’t been able to create a thing about it, but seeing this makes me want to try to process some of those raw emotions into something beautiful in her memory. Thank you, as always, for inspiration.

  9. What a great post today! I have a younger brother and I know how much he means to me. Your brothers should be proud to have you for a sister!

  10. Wonderful tribute…thanks for sharing.

  11. How wonderfully sweet and charming! you really are blessed in the brother department and you’ve shared it with us! Those are fabulous pictures. Thank you.

  12. It always astonishes me how many emotions I can feel at the same time–sad and grateful and tired and hopeful and so many other things. And those are both great pictures.

  13. Beautiful, sweet, wonderful, joyous and poignant. Steve’s picture made me laugh, and Donnie’s made me sigh. Such a heart you have . . . thank you for touching ours.

  14. I have two older brothers who are so different, but share at least one thing in common: they loved their little sisters. I also have a friend who played classical guitar and cello, who died in his early twenties. This post reminds me of what gifts these three people have been in my life.

  15. Oops! I meant to write *love* their little sisters, not loved. Didn’t mean to imply that my brothers are dead. Very much alive.

  16. Jules, I find my youngest brother’s birthday to be a hard day, too. Each year the age difference becomes greater. Donnie was such a handsome guy! You look like twins. Thanks for posting about both of your brothers today.

  17. I’m laughing out loud with tears in my eyes!

    Is that Traction Man I see, riding off to fight crime?!?!

  18. Great photos and great, touching post. Happy Birthday to your brother in heaven.

  19. I’m raising a glass in honor of the Walker boys, and their most excellent and blessed sister. Love to you, J.

  20. Aw, you all are awfully sweet. Thanks. It was hard to determine whether or not to post about something so personal, but you all are my friends, so I decided to. Plus, as Cassy Lee said, you sometimes feel the urge to create something in their memory. PLUS, birthdays should be shouted like barbaric yawps off the rooftops of the world, don’t you think? Especially for the living.

    And, YES! It’s TRACTION MAN and his trusty, bad-ass sidekick! HOO HA! Did I mention I love that picture? God, I love that picture.

  21. What great brothers! And a lovely post, Jules.

    Is that a Buick LeSabre I see in the driveway? My mom had a blue one in the 70s.

  22. Hugs to everyone in the Jules family, immediate and extended, now and then. I’m sorry for your loss.

  23. LOVE this post. And your brother is badass, even in plaid pants. No mean feat.

  24. I actually especially like the tribute to Steve. Having lost an immediate family member, I know how easy it is to get lost in mourning – I don’t think I always cherish the people who are still with me as much as I should. Especially since they often tend to do a lot of NOT-CHERISHABLE things. But still, I love them, the stupid jerks.

  25. Thanks, you all.

    Word, Dana. That’s so true that I might even have to say: Word UP. Cherishing the living, that is. Not so much that some people in your family might be stupid jerks, which I wouldn’t know.

  26. What a great poem and such a poignant post. I always wished for an older brother. Love the photo and I am laughing! With snorts, too funny.

  27. I always wanted big brothers. Instead, I got only big sisters (3 of ’em). Big sisters who know your weaknesses, spill your secrets, and lock you out of their rooms. But who also protect you, warn you on which rules Mom and Dad will not bend, and let you sleep on their floor when you’re scared at night.

    But I still would’ve liked big brothers, too. Thanks for sharing yours. Touching photos and poem, too. Both pix seem to capture a moment in a way that makes it live forever.

  28. Julie, sweetheart. I absolutely adore you. I remember the day you came to talk to me…to tell me of your brother’s passing. My heart was so sad for you. I knew you loved, adored, respected, and cherished him. I knew what a loss he was to you.
    I’m sure it saddens you now to know your girls won’t know him…at least here. But what a lovely, beautiful introduction you have given to those who didn’t get to know him and what an amazing memorial you’ve given to those who did.

    I know you miss him but obviously he lives on in your heart. Thank you so much for sharing him with us so we could love him, too!

    All my love, my dear, dear blue rose…Rudy

  29. RUDY! Hi! I didn’t know you ever read this little ‘ol blawg here.

    Thanks for the kind words. Blue rose right back atcha, and it goes without saying I adore you, too.

  30. I so love that picture of Steve! He is one of the best souls on the earth – no question. He is a good man. I have a picture somewhere of Donnie sitting on my lap on the porch of the house in Corbin (which I think is the one in Steve’s Bad-ass picture). In it Donnie has the biggest most soulful eyes. I remember there was much conversation about his eyes when he was a baby – like he saw more of the world than we did and I always felt this was one source of his depth as a human being, which he so beautifully expressed with his music and art. This picture you put up has such beautiful shadows – and yes, he is quite handsome. He outshone us all.

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