By Stephen W. Hiemstra
My brother, John David, arrived on April 9, 1963. He was ten years younger than me, but I knew reasonably well even as a tot because we shared the room in the basement in the house on Trexler Road. He was an angel from an early age. The brother I always wanted, he was, ironically, too young to share my childhood blues. Three incidents remained embedded in my memory.
The first incident came in fifth grade when a kid down the street sold me half a dozen cherry bombs that I eagerly tested in the backyard placing it in a coffee jar next to my bedroom window. Forgetting how powerful these explosives were, the blast knocked me down, bloodied my right side with glass shrapnel, and blew out my bedroom window. My room was also sprayed with glass. John was not there but I remember seeing his crib and feeling guilty about what might have happened had he been there.
The second incident came several years later. In the middle of the night in the dark, John got up from bed and began sleep walking around the room. I freaked out, began screaming, and mom ran downstairs and turned on the light. Poor John woke unaware of what had happened and began crying. Mom comforted us both and we all went back to bed.
A final incident happened when John was a youngster and I was in high school. John climbed up the steps in a tree behind the house where I had attempted to build a treehouse years earlier. The step collapsed; John slipped; and an exposed nail sliced the skin in John’s leg open from the ankle to the knee.
Scout Emergency Training
By the time I heard about it, John was sitting the kitchen. He did not cry, but my mother held onto him as I cleaned and bandaged up his leg, holding the skin together and taping it together inch by inch. I was surprised that there was not more blood and that John did not cry. The emergency room doctor that treated John later complimented my work and praised my Scout training.
John went on to play football for the New Carrollton Boy’s Club at the age of seven, even though I had been discouraged earlier from playing—mom told me: “Football is too violent.” By high school John was a star athlete, quarterbacking the only winning team in twenty years, and president of his class for several years running. Instead of being my younger brother, I became known around town as his older brother, which was fine with me. I always wanted a brother.
Also see: Looking Back
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