Tuesday, January 10, 2012

BROTHER DENNIS AND OUR BIG GREEN CANOE


     There were, at one time, six of us.  The quintessential family of the 50’s with a father who provided, a stay at home mother who nourished,  a first born son , then two girls and lastly another son.
We were running at full throttle, 100%, burning up those innocent days of the 50’s as if there would be no end, oblivious that it could change. No end to fun, no end to family. 
     Now, on this day some 60 years later, that family of 6 is down to 50%. The first to pass was the provider, than the one who nourished and now the first born son.  My brother Dennis died on New Year’s Day 2012 of a cancerous tumor on his brain.
     Dennis and I were not close.  He was 8 years my senior and  I’m pretty sure that as we  grew up he considered me a more of a pestering, spoiled brat kid than someone he could relate to in a brotherly manner.  There were just too many years between my childhood and his adolescence.  But I did look up to him because he was just too cool. He was a teen during the golden 50’s. The years of flat –top haircuts, rolled up blue jeans, and hot rods. For those things and more I was jealous of my big brother.
     And being older, Dennis and Dad would go hunting together, leaving me moping and wallowing in self -pity at the injustice of it all. On the rare occasions that I would be included to go out with them , which I’m sure happened  at the insistence of my mother, I would have to privately endure my envy of the scope mounted, lever action, .32 Special that Dad had bought for Dennis.  I really loved that rifle.  And when I had the chance I would eagerly, but secretly, retrieve it from the gun cabinet, peeping though the scope and joyously jacking imaginary shells into the chamber. Dreaming of the day when I could use it for real, on a hunt with Dad which would finally happen after my brother graduated from Crosby High School in 1960.
     However fishing was the exception to my self-perceived exclusion.  I guess the general  consensus was that a spinning rod in my hands was a whole lot less threatening than a deer rifle. For whatever reasons I was allowed to accompany my brother and Dad on more than a few brook fishing expeditions.  But after the third time I “hooked up” a low lying branch  a disgusted brother  Dennis would move on to fish in peace, leaving Dad to tend to my rescue (s).  Then there was lake fishing....  Dad had an old, green, canvas covered wooden canoe with a square stern on which he would mount a small Johnson outboard. I’m sure it weighed a “ton” but he and Dennis and Uncle Oscar would toss it up onto the homemade wooden rack superstructure that topped off our old Ford F-100. The three or four of us  (if the Big O came along)  would pile in and head out to Swan Lake with our sights set on some landlocked salmon action, the cab of the pickup soon filling with the aroma of Prince Albert.  And on some of these occasions even I caught a few fish, trolling streamers in our wake.
     To this day, I still have the love of dragging a Grey Ghost behind my boat, evoking memories and a profound melancholy for  those long ago days.  Perhaps a part of these fond memories was that, in my mind at least, Dennis and I were almost equal in that big green canoe.
     After his high school graduation he had a short stint with Maine Maritime Academy and then the U.S. Army for 23 years, including a tour of Viet Nam.  He lived in Germany, out of state, and in state but not close by, got married and raised a family, graduated from Pensacola Bible Institute and did missionary field work.  So once he left home after Crosby High, he was gone, only returning for short visits.
     Den and his wife Daryl did finally settle only 10 or so miles away from me for his retirement years.  And during that time he and I saw one another somewhat more frequently, although our relationship never became closer.  I guess it just wasn’t meant to be but I wish that it were.  

     Perhaps it could have been if we had only gone fishing once again in another big, green canoe.

                                                                              
(Dedicated to my brother Dennis who passed away at the age of 70.)

11 comments:

  1. Kudos Mike...a lovely tribute!

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  2. Beautiful story and homage....and my condolences to you and your family on his passing...

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  3. I am sorry to hear about your loss.

    A wonderful tribute to an big brother.

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  4. >Thanks sister Linda..

    >Erin..thanks so much for the kind thoughts and compliment. It means so very much coming from a writer with such ability as yours....

    >Ed,thank you so very much

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  5. First of all, I'm sorry Mike for your loss.
    I'm sure he knew that there was brotherly love and respect between you.
    And that there is a green canoe and a Gray Ghost waiting in Fathers lake....above.

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  6. Yes indeed Alan and just think how Divine those landlocks must be..Thank you for your thoughts. I really appreciate it my friend.

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  7. Beautiful story.

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  8. I am the oldest in my family of six children. From this day on, I will be more attentive to my younger siblings, and I spend more time with them and listening to them. Thanks for this sensitive and thought provoking reflection.

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  9. A beautiful tribute. He sounds like a very interesting person, I'm sorry for your families loss.

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  10. Thanks Sara and Elsa, we all have to remember to keep family close.

    Thanks John and yes it was sad but when the time came, a blessing as well.

    PenPad, he was an interesting guy and did a lot and thanks.

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