I was always hungry when I was a little girl. I grew up with my three older brothers: Bill, Alby, and Mike. They had healthy appetites. I was beat out by them in the food chain constantly.
The precious lamb-chops also loved to tease me ruthlessly. Alby, in particular, took great delight in insulting my behavior. As a result, I wasn’t very feminine. We were all sitting at the dinner table one night, and I began belching. This happened when I ate too fast, but I couldn’t help it. I was famished after an afternoon of playing ball with the three of them.
“Hey Pig, where’s your etiqwette?” Alby asked, laughing.
“It’s etiquette Alby, not etiqwette,” I replied.
Dad and my brothers roared with laughter. Mom however, didn’t find it amusing. She shot a stern look at my father. He then turned and looked at me.
“Okay, little girl, let’s watch our manners,” Dad said.
“But F-a-t-h-e-r, I’m hungry,” I whined.
“You’re always hungry,” Alby said.
“That’s because my brothers are a bunch of pigs, and eat everything in sight,” I shouted.
“Deborah!” Mom yelled.
The boys and I looked at each other, and laughed. Despite all the teasing, there were strong bonds of love between us.
In February, of 2002, Alby came down with bronchitis. He had this malady several times in the past, but this time it wasn’t going away. I nagged him into seeing a doctor. He went on a Wednesday. The following Friday, he called me from Mom and Dad's place.
“Hey Bubby, what’s up?” I now called him “Bubby.”
“I’m not doing too good. I’m at Mom’s. Can you come over?”
“Sure, I’ll be right there,” I said.
I knew from the tone of his voice that something was wrong. When I arrived, I walked in and found him stretched out on the sofa. He looked horrible. All of us kids were tall and lanky, but for the first time I noticed how gaunt my brother looked. His face was pale. He was having trouble breathing.
“What’s going on Bubby?” I asked. He looked at me with tears in his eyes.
“What?” I asked again. My brother Mike stepped into the room and spoke up.
“They think he’s got cancer Deb.” I was in shock. I had to maintain and keep calm for Alby’s sake. Alby was also recently divorced, and I didn’t want him alone.
“Do you want to come and spend the night with me?” I asked.
“I think I’ll stay here tonight, and come to your place tomorrow, Sissy. Would that be okay?”
“Sure,” I said.
“Did the doctor give you any medicine to take?”
“It’s in my bag,” he said. I got the medicine out and gave it to him. I could see he was exhausted.
“You lay back down and get some rest, Bubby. I’ll come back in the morning.” I bent down and kissed him.
As I was getting ready to walk out the door, I stopped to look back at him.
“I love you, Bubby.”
“I love you too, Sissy,” he said.
I drove home slowly. I had to. I could hardly see the road through my tears.
I sat up late that night. I sewed, trying to keep my mind occupied. I could hear the sleet gently tapping against the windows. It soothed me enough to help me fall asleep.
I woke up at 4:00 a.m. It was as though someone prodded me out of bed.
“What is it God?” I asked. There was silence, yet my spirit stirred within me. I had the strangest sense that Alby was going to die. I couldn’t understand why I was feeling this way. It was too early to drive over and check on him. I prayed.
My phone rang at 6:00 a.m. I answered, and Mike was on the other end.
“You’d better come quick. Alby’s real bad.”
I hollered for my husband, and we ran out the door. We drove Alby to the hospital. Shortly after we arrived, Alby stopped breathing. They revived him, but it was only temporary. He died later, around noon. At least he didn’t suffer. My husband told me I let out a cry like he’d never heard before.
Later that day, I was trying to make myself eat a little something. I belched. Tears filled my eyes. I remembered Alby saying, “Hey Pig, where’s your etiqwette?”
Starved in my soul, I cried out to God, “But Father, I’m hungry.”