Good morning, y’all. I’m gettin’ all sophisticated with this hardware, and software, and hard drives, and video files, and what not in the pursuit of getting the park peeper, Mr. B.A. Ware out of my hair once and for all. Mulva got this community college nerd to come out and set all of this stuff up so I can come over to the Rec room and review the day’s films. We don’t have the peeper yet, but time is on my side.
Today we’re going to talk about my brother Jackson, and in some ways it may be the most painful memories of all. Jackson Lee Lite, named after Daddy’s two favorite Confederate generals, was born in 1953 when I was three and a half. My earliest memory of my little brother was his white hair, not blonde mind you, white. He was “cotton-topped”, where my sister and I were of the ginger persuasion. Fortunately, Jackson’s and my hair color darkened as we aged, whereas Charlotte’s just got incredibly thin.
I don’t have many memories of Jackson specifically until we went to live with Daddy. Pre- divorce, I remember he was always sent out to play with me. He hung out in my group of friends, but he never was a pain in the butt. He just seemed to go along with the rest of us. He never complained, never was the whiny little brother that made everyone change their plans because he couldn’t keep up.
After we moved in with Daddy, he was always my constant playmate. It couldn’t have been easy for him. If I was learning a wrestling move I had seen on Live Atlanta Wrestling, it was Jackson who provided the sparring partner. If I was teaching myself Judo from a book, it was Jackson who took the falls. If I was learning how to “bull” over someone in football, as opposed to running around them, it was Jackson who took the hit. It couldn’t have been easy.
Being the younger sibling has to be hard in a normal family, we were not normal. During the period after the divorce, and Jackson moving to Mom’s, we had a catch as catch can lifestyle that one normally attributes to inner city kids. Because Daddy’s job was sales, it required him to be out most nights so that he could make his pitch when the husbands were home. Jackson and I would come home from school and play outside until it was time for us to come in and eat supper.
Supper was generally tomato soup and grilled cheese, which I would cook. If we were lucky, Daddy would have left us something like Oreos or Brach’s chocolate stars for desert. I made sure Jackson did his homework, bathed when it was obviously needed, and then sent him to bed by 10 o’clock. I would try to stay up until Daddy would come home.
I started working after school when I was thirteen and Jackson got a paper route about the same time, when he was ten. Daddy “borrowed” money from me, and just plain confiscated Jackson’s receipts. Medical or dental care was just not in the cards. My nose was broken twice while wrestling, and it took my nose being visibly misplaced to prompt Daddy into action. Jackson carried a bean in his nose, shot there by a bean gun, for a really long time before I could shame Daddy into taking Jackson to have it removed. Dentist visits were as likely as an audience with the Queen of England. Not bloody likely, as they say.
This pattern was only broken by Daddy’s courting exploits, and other misadventures that required us leaving TackyToo for a while. In spite of being moved back and forth, we got good grades, did sports, and neither one of us got arrested.
I applaud Jackson’s calm disposition, high intelligence and pleasant demeanor for getting him through. He has been without parents most all of his life, but he has still managed to achieve highly himself. I’ve always felt guilty for leaving him and ultimately for him going to live with Mom, which was not the answer. All I can say is, I’m sorry I wasn’t a better brother, Jackson deserved to have a better childhood.
I am sad now and I think I’ll hit the elliptical for a while to see if I can work off some of these feelings.