Archives for posts with tag: dad

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This painting has little to do with what I’m about to write it is simply one of my favorites

The house is the same as many would imagine a Midwest farm house to be, with it’s wrap around porch, shutters and standard off white paint. A wooden screen door gently taps frame in rhythm with the breeze. The two stories give a deceiving appearance that the structure may contain more than two bedrooms but in fact it does not. Roof covered in gray shingles, sloped to a pitch designed with the idea of discouraging snow from accumulating, gaining weight and collapsing inward, protects the inside from nature. Traditional style curtains can clearly be seen through windows on both floors, indicating the proprietors understanding of roots and willingness to stay with what works.

Infront of the house a large split pasture is seperated from gravel drive and small front yard by white wooden fence. The fence has a stoutness suggesting it is not merely a cosmetic structure but one of function as well. Grass in the yard is clipped much closer to ground than that of the pastures. Amongst this manicured lawn is a lone tree, the sort that stands tall and twisted informing anyone who looks upon it, that it has stood through many seasons and generations in this very spot. A rope plank swing hangs from one of the larger branches, the platforms worn wooden bench, displays years of fun and joy. Off behind the house in a somewhat typical fashion is a red barn, trimmed in the same white as the place of residence. Connected off the right hand side is another pasture, where seven horses can be seen grazing. The enclosing allows animals to freely enter their stalls for water or rest from weather at will. On closer examination large sliding doors can be seen, they can be closed at night containing the beautiful horses safely in thier respective stalls.

Upon entering the home the scent of linseed oil, varnish, and various other smells of oil painting fills the air. These aromas are often accompanied by gentle music softly playing in the background or the clear melody of someone playing live accusticly. Wooden floor, showing care taken to preserve, yet the undeniable pattern that years of those who live here coming and going, leads to a staircase. From staircases bottom both kitchen and family room can be viewed depending on which direction one is looking. An open family room with sofa, end tables holding matching lamps, two chairs and a long wooden record player stereo are the main furnishings, besides a desk in one corner. The desk has feathers, furs, a vise and other items used for the tying of flies, intended to at some later date entice a trout to rise. Beside it is an easel with a painting in progress tenderly perched upon the stained wood, which clearly shows its use. A television is the only furnishing which seems out of place hanging on the far wall in a position guaranteeing that in order to be viewed the chairs must be repositioned. Of course on nights when hockey is being played they are infact turned to face the lone modern device in the room.

Breathing deeply I take in all that is the home of my childhood and all besides nine months of my years on this Earth. Tomorrow evening I will walk from what is now Brooke’s bedroom down these stairs and out the door. Mom will hug me tightly on the porch, we all spend so much time on. She will hand me some extra cash whispering to not tell my father. Brooke will be waiting in the back seat when I climb into the front one next to Dad. I will turn to talk to Brooke as we pull away, in order to see the place I call home and mostly to watch Mom standing on the wooden porch. In a few hours drive time my things will for the second time be carried into a dorm room by my father. He will hand me some cash instructing me not to tell Mom. Brooke and I will hug and kiss goodbye, without words spoken between us. As Dad and Brookelyn get into vehicle I will say mostly to keep myself from crying, “I’ll be home for Thanksgiving!”

-Brooke’s Sister

I felt compelled to add that I am excited about going back to school! I’m also grateful to be going back early, because my early return means I have kept my athletics scholarship and will be returning for the sport, long before classes begin. Yet, it’s all quite bittersweet.

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Finish is worn revealing gentler wood tones, on the arm of the wooden chair, suggesting years of use. The wear clearly from a forearm larger than that of the youthful current inhabitant. More curious than her headwear is the activity of the girl seated at the table with stain and design matching the chair. A delicate finger traces the location where varnish has faded from years of use, as if through touch she can gain understanding of the man who occupies this spot in early morning hours sipping black coffee. Does she gain the knowledge which he received from hours spent in this very location, folding papers containing events of the world. Among them the sports section which always holds his attention slightly longer.

On this day Brooke has chosen the brown bowler, her favorite choice of hat, though she generally seems slightly more partial to the faded black one. The one with felt worn on brims edge, much like the chairs arm, from years of repeated touch. It was a gift from grandfather, he had carried it on the long flight back from England, since it was sizes too small for him but a perfect fit for the little girl whom it strangely reminded him of that rainy day he spotted it through milky glass in the second hand store. This derby would start a collection of many including the brown one donned at the moment. There are the other hats and caps of all styles but by the sure number of days worn, all would agree that bowlers are the definite favorite of young observer.

Taking the seat next to younger sister causes her to look up casting a slight smile with always slightly blushed lips. Returning the smile, I resists the urge to glance away from gentle eyes. Brooke’s eyes hold secrets that have always for me been best observed in small doses. This day I take in all the emotion, love, warmth and passion that exudes from her. A slight tilt of head and scrunching of her noses suggests I should speak, asking me what I’m thinking.

“Brooke what are you doing?”, I ask my sister who I’d watched for some time seated in fathers chair, gently touching the arm worn by his use.

The yellow tablet is pulled close words are placed on it in looping perfect cursive. When thoughts are complete it is slid on the table in my direction. “Talking to Dad, I miss him.”

Six words simple and clear lead me to questions, rather than the answer I believed to be seeking. What do you mean miss him, I think to myself. After all father left for his days work less than two hours ago and as always he will be home before dinner is eaten together. Above the words written for me on the tablet is the evidence of the conversation Brooke and Dad had while he drank morning coffee, so why talking to him?

Brookelyn, now returned to herself and conversation with father, gently rubs the place where his arm hours before rested. Slowly standing in attempt to find my answers in her own fashion rather than mine, I close my eyes. Brooke’s face is soft beneath the gentle touch of my hand as I trace it’s curves, memorizing her form. Slightly damp lips kiss my palm and in my mind I hear the voice of an angel, “I love you too” are the words spoken.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Wild grass covers the small field, which is inclosed by a wooden fence, in front of our home. A dirt and gravel drive leads to a blacktop road that can not be seen from the wooden porch. Five chairs, two of them being the type that rock, are perfect places to find yourself for relaxation, conversation, or to view the day. Perched in the other piece of furniture, a wooden swing, the slight breeze sways me gently. Far across the field a shadow moves, the young mare lifts her head for a moment, then upon recognizing the shadows form returns to chewing natures gifts. As often is the case familiarity brings comfort and ease.

Making way through the pasture, from my location the shadow soon gains form. Sun glistens on golden hair, that hangs loosely beneath a worn derby. The bowler hat would be out of place to the scene if not for the individual wearing it. The derby is just one of many unique bits of fashion Brooke uses as headware. A fly-rod rests on her shoulder, catching the sun on eyelets on occasion, sending bright spots of light in my direction. From her walk it is apparent the creel over her left shoulder is not empty, but instead contains the morning catch.

Brooke is well beyond half way across the field when basket of fish and rod are placed on the ground as her arms are wrapped around the neck of the mare. A bit of her morning snack that she has saved for this moment is removed from her small pack. The horse gently eats the apple piece from my sisters palm. Unlike the mare I understand the strength of this gesture, apples are in fact Brooke’s favorite of all foods, a slice saved for an old friend is no small offering. Horse patted once more, gear is gathered from the ground, as fisherman continues home.

The screen gently taps door frame as father joins me on the porch. He has witnessed the scene from inside but can no longer keep glass between himself and that which he so loves. “Sometimes I wish that youth, innocence, wisdom, tenderness and beauty was my own,” Dad almost whispers.

“It is.” I respond in the same tone.

“I may have had a slight hand in creating her but she is not mine. Brooke belongs to no one, barely even to this world. What I meant however was that I wish, I was more like her.”

The words of father could be my own. It’s not that I want to be like Brooke, who my father is now holding the wooden gate for, it’s more a want to know what it’s like to see things as she does for just a moment. Brookelyn tips the bowler and smiles at Dad holding the gate open, they walk together up to the porch before she sees me in the shadows. A huge smile comes across her face as creel is handed to father. For a moment, before she reaches into her pack I believe she is proud of her catch. Of course humility being one of her stronger qualities I quickly realize the smile is for me, as a slightly dusty hand offers me a slice of apple pertected from the dust by white handkerchief.

-Brooke’s Sister

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I didn’t write a Fathers Day post, because I feel that in sharing Brooke with the world and finding her voice, it will be clearly seen how special our father is to us. We did have a special day for Dad, a day just for him. Brookelyn and I made him breakfast and spent the day with him. This in itself is not rare. What set the day apart from many was us initiating the activities and planning them with the hope he would feel our love. We love him everyday and spend time with him as well, though he often plans and initiates what we do together.

Dads impact on us can be seen in our interests, actions and hopefully our character. There is the fly-fishing Brooke enjoys and of course me playing lacrosse and soccer. What stands out the most as a direct impact from father is hockey.

Brooke smiles at me pulling the familure white and brown jersey over her head. She prefers the one that ties at the neck, the Brown Bears no longer don this style it has been replaced with the model I’m wearing. On toes, my sister bounces down the stair case receiving a glance from Mom, informing her she is in direct violation of indoor speed limits. Brooke’s hair pulled back and tied with a ribbon, matching in color to the rich chocolate of the trim on her jersey. Her pace, perfect coordination of color, disregard for rules of movement in our home and Moms allowance of the misconduct, are telling signs of the importance of AHL hockey in Hershey.

The chill of the air can be seen on Brooke’s flushed cheeks. A beanie now covers most of her hair that had been so neatly tied with the ribbon. A remnant of a snack eaten between second and third period breaks up the white of her jersey. Her eyes are glued to the action on the ice, though tonight the Bears lead by more than a couple goals as the closing seconds tick away. She hasn’t signed or written a word since the first puck drop, like our father she is focused on the game.

Later Brooke will write to me, telling me about the new forward dropping his hands on a break away, telling the goalie where the puck was headed. She will also ask if I noticed the young defender from Ontario, his strength, agility and aggression. All signs according to Brooke that we should enjoy him while we can because he is shortly NHL bound. I read her words smiling, mostly because in my mind they sound as if spoken by our father.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Melodies resonate in the living room of our comfortable home. Tones, that are strung together in harmony with love. Brooke’s fingers find the notes of a piece older than the farm house that my father with his loving hands has restored, giving us girls a place to grow, eat, sleep and feel our parents love. Like that love Brookelyn wrinkles her brow as small fingers fly across frets and the eight taunt strings of what was once grandfathers mandolin. In fascination I hear the familiarity of Robert Johnson’s work. Sure I too have learned to play the instrument, bluegrass and traditional songs. What has me memorized is my little sister taking the blues piece we both love and playing it first on her guitar, then on grandpa’s mandolin.

Keeping thoughts to myself, just being in the moment absorbing the sound, my eyes close. To astonishment my eyes snap open as Brooke suddenly swings the song into a jazz number I think I recognize but can’t name. Noticing my reaction, she smiles for less than a second before her eyes return to the instrument in her hands. Mom is now standing in the entryway smiling at her youngest who plays on. In her hands is a plate, the kind loving mothers present to those they most care about. On it’s surface is a nutritious mixture of sliced apples, with the less healthy but rewarding drizzle of honey across them. The plate being placed on small table beside the sofa I’m seated on brings the music to a halt.

Apples being one of Brooke’s favorite treats, I wait until she selects the first one. As the refreshing crisp fruit cools my mouth, Brookelyn’s hand gently grazes my cheek, while mom returns to the kitchen. Though unsuspected, the touch does not startle me, it’s simply normal. With the gentle touch Brooke has told me she loves me, thanked me for letting her chose the perfect bite of snack before selecting my own. A cool breeze can be felt through the window with it bringing in natures fresh scents, as we crunch the apple sliced in equals so it can be shared. Finishing my bite, I ask Brooke what the jazz song that she infused with Johnson’s piece is. Scrunching her nose she grabs a tablet from the floor and writes her response. Looking at the words, “nothing, I just made it up” I’m not really surprised but am impressed.

After a discussion of when she began writing melodies so advanced, I realize while away at college, it hasn’t been me that’s growing and finding education. Brooke explains that with me away, the music helps to ease those moments that she feels alone. There really is nothing I can do about this, college is important, plus I need the experience, friends and freedom. Yet, I feel the pangs of guilt for her being alone. By thinking of her almost nonstop, wondering what her thoughts would be, missing her laying on the floor drawing for hours on end, seeing the glow of light from the corner desk where she ties flies, have I once thought what it is like for her? Truthfully, I haven’t, me missing the soft notes on a guitar and all the rest was about me. For the first time, today home for the summer, I am aware that Brooke still needs me.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Slamming the door that keeps, the bedroom Brooke and I share, private from the rest of the world and mostly our parents, I shout at the people who love me the most. The words yelled are hateful, mean, the type intended to push others away. Of course my outburst is mostly a cover for the hurt I feel at the moment. That emotion I seldom let others see, and generally cover with a secondary one like anger or rage.

Through the white paint, wood and space my fathers voice comes. Telling me that he understands I am upset but expressing a need to discuss the issue of the hour in which I returned home. As his manner in all things with us girls, he is gentle and kind. Finally in tone that makes my now crying self move closer to the door that separates us, Dad suggests that I get some sleep and we converse over my disregard for curfew in the morning. Fathers hand gently pats the wood of the door jam, not unlike the way I’m certain he did Brooke’s head hours ago when she went off alone to bed. This is the moment I am completely aware, that of course Brookelyn is awake and sitting up, rubbing sleepy eyes, in the bed against the farthest wall. Turning towards her she smiles, ensuring me that a fight with dad has no impact on our relationship.

In the moments that follow I hit what for me is my all time worst behaviors as a human. Something about her sweet gentle smile, sleepy eyes and the knowledge that she does not rebel or create problems for mom and dad, infuriates me. My mind is racing, full of embarrassment for the ridiculous explosion, frustration over having the earliest curfew of all my friends, resentment that I disappoint Dad when Brooke doesn’t, and finally it’s too much, the anger wins out. I’ve often relived this incident but as I write it, fear fills my heart. I was ugly, imagine the spawn of Satan in all the movies containing such character, combine them into one ugly critter. With a heart of stone and rage, I attempt to share my misery. Yet, some are incapable of things like speech, hate, anger and ever being ugly.

“Brooke, don’t just stare at me!” I shout, as she complies laying down and turning toward the wall. She is doing the only thing that comes to mind, the natural response of following what she is told to do.

For reasons I can’t explain, my evil is not out, something inside me still begs to be released. Still in a shout I continue on. “What the fuck is wrong with you? Don’t just always do what people tell you! It’s dumb and makes you a wimp and nobody likes a wimp! That’s why you don’t have hardly any friends because you are lame!” I’m shaking because I’m yelling so loud, I haven’t noticed that Dad has violated our rule of entering our room without knocking. The rare experience of shouting and worst yet the f word in our home, possibly the last time it’s used, warrants concern.

He is standing in the doorway observing only, just making sure I don’t do anything too bad. But I have already gone too far, I’ve already said things I’ll regret, hurt the most beautiful person I’ll ever know. Seeing our father does not calm me but makes it worse, I am certain he is about to get on to me and rescue the daughter he loves the most. Of course I am wrong, he doesn’t have a favorite, he won’t rescue her, no he is just insuring we don’t physically fight, though I am certain Brooke would not fight.

All my built up guilt, pain and “troubles”, explode in a final outburst of extreme rage. “That’s right just lay there, don’t say anything at all. Oh, that’s right, I forget we all should feel sorry for you cause you can’t say anything at all!”

As if knowing what will come next, like a palm reader, Dad sighs, turning to exit closing our bedroom door behind him. With the click of the brass sound of door shutting my tears began falling as I’m filled with guilt and shame. Laying silently, the tremble of crying is evident in my sisters shoulders. They shake as her hands go up to cover her eyes, while I turn off the light and crawl into my bed feeling miserable but deserving of the emotion. Hours pass as I’m consumed by the silence of Brooke crying, out of shame I can’t cry myself, instead I wish myself dead, or for strength to tell her the truth. Just a little courage to stand and say, “Brooke, you are perfect, don’t change or worry about friends or anything.”

The silence of misery is broken by a rustling of blankets, followed by bare feet quietly crossing the floor and then Brooke is beside me in my bed. Her cheek is wet from tears, but feels good against mine. Arms wrapped tightly around me, I finally begin to cry once more. Together holding each other we cry until sleep finally takes us. Of course she didn’t but I like to imagine that she said, “It is okay, I forgive you and love you even when you forget to love yourself.”

As always actions speak louder than words. The morning light does not wake me. Instead it is a gentle kiss from Brooke on my cheek as she gets out of my bed. I apologize, to which I receive a smile and wink, putting the event to rest forever. Well not for me, I still consider it my rock bottom, the event that marks my last real act of high school, teenage rebellion.

-Brooke’s Sister

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The first snow of winter always brings excitement to my heart. It was no different years ago when with eagerness I’d rise each morning, leaping from my bed to look out the window hoping to see a world covered in white. Of course on many occasions the first falling snow did not come while I slept but instead during the waking hours. This always created a feeling as if cheated, the way one feels when the shell they select is lifted revealing nothing where they are certain a pea should have been. The snow was not better when it fell while I slept, just the rush of finding change added to the possibilities of snowmen, wars raged with the white powder packed into balls and my favorite of all sledding, was beyond perfect.

Watching my breath fog the window from my sister and mines room, looking out at the white field infront of our home, my heart was racing. It had happened while I slept, enough snow had been released from the clouds that rolled in the prior afternoon to leave a glistening pearl view. Joyously shouting in triumph as if the feat was my own, as if Mother Nature had simply done as I’d ordered I crossed the room. Brookelyn sitting on the edge of her bed struggling into the pink snow pants, the ones I’d loved and worn when they were new. For a moment I try to recall, were they a birthday or Christmas gift from Uncle Lars? Leaving thought behind I continue on in an extatic voice, explaining how the snow is surely enough to delay the start of school, or possibly if luck holds cancel it all together.

Hearing my delight from down the hall, mother assures that my dreams are answered. She confirms that at least for the Bayer girls there will be no school on this wondrous Friday. Brooke, in snow pants now is pulling on wool socks, glances up at me with a big grin revealing the tooth she lost several days prior. The smile tells me she has heard and is excited about the news mom has delivered from the kitchen, while the aromas insist she is readying breakfast. Closing my eyes taking in the mixture of frying eggs and bacon, a vision of what she has promised fills my mind. It’s dad in the small barn behind the house, bundled in his hunter green coat, standing over his work bench. Upon the bench is of course the wooden sled, it’s runners turned up cold and hard awaiting the wax he is about to offer them.

Four socked feet race almost silently down the hall, at the stairs mine slow for safety and caution. Those belonging to my sister race past me, like most mornings, gracefully on her toes she barely touches each step until at the bottom, where she slides round a corner on the smooth hardwood floor. I enter the kitchen second as mom turns from the stove beginning to announce the ever so common statement often directed at children in regards to running in the house. The words are stopped before completely out, when her eyes meet her youngest daughters face. Brooke stands beside the chair at the small table in our kitchen that is her usual place, a slight smile on her face. However, it is not the smile that keeps mothers words on her tongue. It’s the one eyebrow raised, causing a slight squint of the other eye, a sign of acknowledgement that our family recognizes on Brookelyn’s face that leads to the silence. It is not that Brooke is allowed to violate rules of order that I am held to. It is something much more complex altogether. My sisters inability to speak, tends to make those who know her well find themselves in her silence. All in the kitchen are aware that there is to be no running in the house, and offending parties have apologized without words being said.

The silence is broken by fathers laughter and the slight creak of the side kitchen door. The announcement of this entrance to our house is not the type that suggest neglect, but rather the sort showing a dad, who does his own repairs, whom also values time with his girls over silent doors. With the three girls of his world all turning their attention toward him, he explains the cause of his chuckle. Brooke and I in our youth do not see humor in his explanation that if not a day promising snow and fun we’d still be upstairs grumbling about the hour. Of course he is correct, we would surely, (especially myself, Brooke is more of a morning person) still be getting ready and not nearly as excited. What we don’t understand however is why this is amusing to him and mother, who has now joined in the laughter. After all why would anyone show the same eagerness to get off to another day of school as a morning spent sledding with one of their heroes?

Bacon, eggs, toast and milk is devoured at a rate which would impress a drill sergeant, for the snow awaits. There is chatter about who will sled first, where the sled should be pulled and ‘what about a snowman?’ Brooke adds in a note slid to my father.

Looking back it now occurs to me, on a day when I would step away from scholastics and never think of writing so much as my name, she was still thinking of spelling and writing. Of course, she was already fluent in signing but preferred to write. Our father once explained that since Brooke was mute but heard perfectly, she never liked using sign language because people tended to sign back. I can’t say with certainty if that is the whole case, but it is possibly one reason why she prefers writing her thoughts.

Completing this post I watch Brooke with her best friend laughing in our living room. The friends laughter fills the room and Brooke in silence as always, joins her. The source of the humor I’m oblivious to, for like all teen girls who have one they are texting on their phones. I’ve heard adults speak negatively about kids and texting but picking up my own phone as I shout, “Brooke, what’s so funny?” I am filled with anticipation awaiting the buzz that will shortly announce the reception of my sister’s response.

Of course I still love the hand written notes, yet text is a wonderful way for Brooke to just be like any other teenager talking to her friends… As for me, if she is in ear shot, I still speak my part of our convos, just in case dad was right and she wants me to hear my voice.

-Brooke’s Sister