BONDING WITH MY ELDER BROTHER
by Verna Mull
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My oldest brother, Onas, was 17 years old when I was born, and, was not one bit excited about my birth. Of course, I do not remember that, but my mother shared that with me years later when I got the idea that I must be adopted. She told me that he seemed to be embarrassed that his parents were having a baby at their age! Mother told me that he would hardly look at me.
Onas was quite a reader, and one day he was reading the newspaper when my other brother, Gaylord let out a loud scream outdoors... Mother was bathing me and didn’t know what to do, so she just picked me up out of the water and plunked me on Onas’s lap, and rushed out to see what the problem was.
Upon returning, she found that I had wet on my brother’s newspaper, but instead of being angry, he was actually playing with me and I was giggling back at him. Well, I guess he began to accept me after that, but, he was going to a Jr. College at the time and so when fall came, he was off to school and away from home most of the time, and I never recalled ever having much to do with him. My 15 year old sister, Myrna treated me as if I was a living doll, and Gaylord who was 5 years older than I, had other things to do. I do have some memories of Gaylord after I was 3 years old.
The spring when I was almost 5 years old, Onas brought his “girlfriend,” (or so we all thought), home. We found that it was to make the announcement that he and Mary had eloped, and had been married for some time. She had been teaching school that year, and if the district had known that she was married, she would have lost her teaching contract, as it was against the rules for a teacher to marry during a school year. My parents were furious, but I didn’t understand much about it, but needless to say, I was not Onas’s priority at that time. Everyone survived Mary and Onas left for another college that fall, and it was a long time before we ever saw them again.
Before fall, however, Onas helped my parents make the move from Wessington Springs, South Dakota, to a vacated farm near Plainfield, Iowa. He rode in the boxcar with our 10 or 12 cows, to see that they got milked while in transit. Again, I do not recall a lot about him.
There were a few visits from Onas and Mary through the years, but I wasn’t as excited as everyone else was, as I hardly knew them and was quite bashful. It seemed they were gone again before I felt much acquainted with them.
Once, when I was about 12 years old, Ones came to visit. This time, I was old enough to be included in some plans to go ice skating on the river. We went skating in a little cove along the riverside, and had a wonderful time. Onas kept teasing Gaylord and me by yelling “Help! Help! I fell through the ice.” Well, that sort of wore thin, and we ignored his cries for help. When he actually did break through the ice, we ignored him at first. His skates and pant legs were soaked, and it was at least zero degrees outside. It was quite a long walk to go home. We trudged to a Boy Scout cabin nearby, lit a fire in the fireplace, and tried to dry out the pant legs at least.
A huge snake came crawling out of the fireplace, which nearly frightened me to death, but the brothers killed the snake, and insisted that if there were more in there, they would be dead by now.
Somehow, one of the brothers just happened to have brought the deck of “authors” along. This must have been a plan to play authors in the Boy Scout cabin that I hadn’t known about. There was an old lantern there, and we had a great, long evening. The clothing got pretty well dry, and this was the first time that I began to bond with Onas. Many years later I discovered just how many things we had in common, and the real bonding took place.
To be continued:
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More, more! Thanks Verna - love the memories and your writing them!