Happy Birthday Big Brother

It’s hard to believe my only brother would have been 56 years old today. Jimmy was three years older than me and murdered in a gas station hold up in 1971. Back then gas stations were full service. Not only did they fill up your tank but checked your tires, oil and washed your windows. You stayed in your car and paid with cash.

Jimmy died over 39 years ago. I remember so much about him. He loved orange crush soda. He wanted to race cars for a living. The last time I saw him was on his 17th birthday and he had a cast on his arm, results of a rough game of basketball. He taught me how to drive his car and motorcycle. He loved sports and the Seattle Seahawks. Once we got in big trouble when we hitchhiked back from the store after buying pop and candy. We rode my grandmothers ponies all the time. His favorite was Mazey, a black and white pinto that only had one speed, full-out run. Jimmy knew computers were going to be an important part of the future. I think he would be proud that I am sharing a bit of his story. I continually wonder how different my world would be if only he were in it. I see parts of him in my oldest, Skeeter. My sons missed out on knowing their only Uncle.

The creaky sound of the steps leading up to my bedroom woke me up that morning. It was odd that my dad was home from work. He slaved 7 days a week to feed our family, blended when he married my stepmother and brought five more kids into our lives. He sat down on my bed and told me how my brother had died. I remember not crying. I had just turned 14 and other than losing my grandfather when I was very young, I hadn’t experienced death.

My dad explained that although it was the last day of school and I had important exams to be taken, I didn’t have to go if I didn’t want to. But I knew deep down he wanted me to. It was the worse day of my life. A friend who knew Jimmy expressed her sorrow. He boyfriend was there and asked what had happened, did he die or something? An instructor asked me in front of the whole class if I was related to the one who was killed last night (he has seen it on the news) and I said yes, he was my brother and then continued to take the exam.

If I could hit replay, I would have insisted on going to the trial. If anyone close went, they never spoke about it. Jimmy had taken the job part time for the summer and had only been there a week. When the robbers came in, they ordered him and the other employee on their stomachs. They shot my brother in the back of the head, execution style. The other employee was uninjured. I can’t even imagine how scared they must have been. The robbers were ages 16 and 20. My brother died for 20 dollars.

The funeral is such a blur to me. The walk up to the casket, looking at Jimmy was unreal. I turned and headed out. That was not my brother. Jimmy was full of life and adventure and he died too young. I miss him to this day.


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