Welcome to my World

Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My Other Brother

If he were still with us, Alex would be 57 today. He came into the world one day short of three weeks after my 16th birthday. Okay--so I give my age away; well I am not ashamed of it as I earned every line and gray hair!! But this is not about me. Mom was 39 and dad 47 when he was born--that is significant later on.

Alex spring 1960 with big sis
That spring and summer I picked up quite a bit of mom's housewifely tasks as well as doing my normal livestock chores. I learned quite a bit about cooking and could already clean--kind of stable style with the shovel and wheelbarrow--just kidding. Mom was the plumpest I ever saw her since she ate a richer diet for awhile as she was breastfeeding; the only one of the three of us for which she did. The few extra pounds softened her face and I think she was basically happy. Maybe for the last time in some ways as life rapidly got much harsher after that time.

Alex seemed to be a healthy and happy baby and small kid. I guess we all doted on him to some extent. Again I had wanted a sister but in retrospect he was better off being a boy; a girl would have had even a harder time than I did. He learned to read very early and was reading Reader's Digest and almost anything he could get hold of before he started school and he had an incredible memory for facts and figures. By the time I left home basically for good seven years later--when I finally went off to college--he was a walking, talking encyclopedia, especially of geography. He could tell you the capital of every state, the highest peak and its elevation, the name and height of most of the peaks in the Rockies and mileage between many places, just for starters!
Alex on QH stud colt, Leo c; 1965

I never quite built the bond with him that I had with Charlie. We did not get to work together although I did take care of him quite a bit while I was still home and would clown around and be silly which he seemed to find amusing. He was a classic 'baby of the family' in some ways but also always very much his own person. We were both Taureans, and shared a number of traits but our relationship was halfway between siblings and maybe an aunt-nephew or something due to the age difference,. The hardships our family went through with dad's physical and mental health issues in the mid 1960s hit Alex at a hard time, too young to understand all that was going on but old enough to feel the stress and experience some of the hardships. I am sure that left its mark.

By the time Alex was in his teens, both Charlie and I were gone from home and often pretty much estranged from our parents for various reasons. Alex finished high school in Silver City, NM and graduated with honors but shortly a major heart defect was discovered and that really changed his life. It was probably a birth defect he had always had--a constricted aorta so that  his lower extremities had very low blood pressure while it was high in the upper parts of his body. In 1978 he had surgery to insert a stint and had to take some blood thinners and other drugs the rest of his life.

Although Charlie and I both tried to encourage him to break free and get on with his own life, he stayed with our parents until Dad's death in a freak accident. He later said he knew someone had to take care of Mom and Dad as they were aging, in bad health and living pretty much on the edge. He chose to share that existence and put his own life on hold. I honor his sacrifice although it may have been unwise and certainly was detrimental to him. When Alex was 20, Dad was 67 and diabetic with vision issues and heart/circulatory problems that ran in his family. Mom was only fifty nine but stress and hard times had taken their toll on her as well. Charlie and I helped them as we could but you have to understand Dad was warped, single-minded and stuck on his difficult path to the point we could not do very much to aid the family. That really hurt and still does.  Dad was asking for aid but it had to be 100% on his terms and they were often totally unreasonable!

Finally after Dad was killed riding a bicycle along a busy road, Mom insisted that Alex go to college and move off toward his own life. He began at the nearest junior college in January of 1990. He was almost thirty-one then. He did very well academically, of course, but socially he had to try to advance from maybe 16 in terms of experiences and 'socializing' (to use the dog-training term of learning to meet and deal with all sorts of external issues and experiences) as he went along.  Of course it was hard, brutal at times. Still he persevered, got his AB from Eastern Arizona, went on to ASU where he got his BA and then to law school at the same institution. He passed the bar the first try and became licensed to practice in both state and federal courts.

He worked with a very independent and strict Constitutionalist attorney  for awhile and did well but most of her work was pro bono and she could not pay him much. After that, he landed a junior associate position with a law firm in Sierra Vista, AZ. , close to where I was then living. Our mother had died from cancer while he was in law school and after that we grew closer and got to know each other and be friends. We cleaned out the old home and shared a few other trips a well.. He was a big help to me when my husband died suddenly in November 2003. But sadly, in September of 2005, just two months after achieving his dream of buying a house and having built a good reputation with his law firm as an excellent legal scholar and writer and learning to be good in the courtroom as well, he developed an aneurysm at the site of the long-ago-surgery. Before the doctors could determine what was wrong, he had lost too much blood internally and died in the OR at the Tucson Heart Hospital.

Lawyer Alex, c: 2004
I miss him very much and often wonder what he might have achieved had he lived closer to a normal life span. He could have been a good judge, an instructor/professor at a law school or perhaps researched and written some very insightful and influential articles. Now we will never know. Charlie and I tried to keep his house for awhile but finally had to let it go when managing as a rental became too difficult and costly. We still have the 1969 Ford F250 pickup which Alex had inherited from Dad who had bought it in Farmington, NM in 1971. Charlie drives it mostly and calls it "The Spirit of Alex." I continue to use the small Ford Focus wagon, 2000 model, that Alex had bought in the spring of 2004. That is the "Pattie Wagon," which I will explain another time. A lot of our baby brother is still with us and always will be. So wherever you are today, Alex, happy 57th birthday from your brother and sister. You are always in our hearts. We are proud of you and love you very  much.

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