Monday, March 28, 2011

My Brother John

Is my brother behind the times or way ahead of them? And, does it matter?
by Charlie Leck

I recently had a nice visit with my brother John. I flew down to Florida to tarry a day or so with him. It had been a couple of years – since we saw each other at my sister’s funeral. I hadn’t seen his wife, my sister-in-law, for a long, long time.

I approached his home one morning and parked my rented car in his front yard, behind his big white van. As I approached his front door, passing right in front of the van, the engine of the vehicle roared to life and I jumped as far as a lame, older fella can jump. When my brother met me at the front door, he had a big, ice cream eating grin on his face and was holding an automatic, remote engine starter in his hand. He shook all over as he giggled and I thought he might choke.

That’s about as far as his involvement with modern, high technology goes. He and his wife both disdain the idea of a computer, email, wireless connections, iPods, iPhones and iPads.

I tried to go for the big sell.

“Geez, we could communicate more often and easily and we could exchange photographs – and you could communicate more regularly with your boys, too!”

“If you want to communicate, pick up the phone!”

They have a hard-wired, awfully large telephone on a table in the living room. I hesitated in my attempt to counter my sister-in-law’s argument, but I bit on the hook.

“You know how difficult it is to pick up the phone every time a little thought crosses one’s mind. Then one ends up getting only an answering machine any way. Email is so much easier and more convenient. And, I don’t have to pay for the phone call! I could send a message to you and copy it to your boys and send one to brother Frank, too; that is if you and he had email.”

“Don’t want email! Too expensive! Always breaking down!”

I had my counter-arguments, but what the hell! I could see they’d get me nowhere. I wanted to explain the wonders of a wireless world. I thought of pulling out my iPhone and showing them all the astounding things it can do – how I could be sitting in the stands at a ball game, and think of my brother, and snap a photo of Michael Cudeyer and email it off to him, telling him how much Cudeyer reminds me of the way he used to play the game.

I explained how I get regular photographs of the grandkids and how they melt my heart and give me a jolt at the start of a day.

“They can put ‘em in an envelope and stick a stamp on it,” Mary Jane said. “If they were interested enough in us!”

“But, but… but…”

“You email that son of ours and tell him to communicate with us a little bit more. He can pick up the phone, you know!”

My brother is a helluva guy. I sure looked up to him as a kid. He seemed to have the world by the tail as a young man. He went through life with a great work ethic and knew enough to save his money and prepare for these years we’re in now. Lordsy, he was handsome! He had girls all over him. In his high school yearbook his favorite saying is listed: “If I’m not near the girl I love, I love the girl I’m near!” I heard him say it an awful lot. He served his country in the military. He served his town as a policeman and then his state for several decades as a New Jersey state trooper and then a detective.

I guess I thought I had the coolest brother in the world.

But over the years, the communications have gotten down to once or twice a year. I just don’t like picking up the telephone. I don’t like hearing the answering machine tell me to leave a message. Or, when you call, you sense they were in the middle of something and you chose a bad time to chat.

I’m so totally enamored by the vast internet and all it has to offer. I love being able to communicate with all our kids in one stroke – just like I did this morning, when I sent off Uncle John’s photograph and told them all how I enjoyed visiting with him and about how good he’s looking.

“He’s stubborn, though,” I wrote to them. “I couldn’t get anywhere in my effort to get him to hook up to the wireless, wonderful world of email and the internet.”

I’ll put some photographs in an envelope this morning and “stick a stamp on it” and get a little note off to him. Geez, that’s a lot of work when I could just be tapping out a little email to him and attaching a half dozen photos to it.

“John, did you know Jackie Robinson was born up there in Cairo, Georgia, just across the Florida line? After I left you, I visited the spot where his house stood and I got chills and felt like I was walking on sacred ground!”

I’d attach a photo I took of the monument sign that the historical society has placed there. My brother would understand the feeling I got. He played the game the way Robinson did. He was Mr. Hustle. No doubt about it.


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1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed your encounter with a brother than is clueless with computers - I share the same issue with my only brother. Our son Graydon, who builds computers and is an IT expert has offered to do one to his specifications free of charge and as a gift. He won't do it. Graydon said he would be there to help if there is any issues - still no way. But think of it this way - your brother has no clue what you write about him on e-mail or your blog - so that may be a perk. Lynn