I was the oldest and only girl and my father’s joy and my mother’s friendly right hand. He was born next and challenged my father’s position and power at every chance while my mother protected him in every way from my father’s wrath. At thirteen, he cried the tears that came from a place deep within as he asked, “now, can I be the boss?”
I’ve read theories regarding birth order and how it affects the psychology and family dynamics of the siblings. My eldest brother, born three years after me, leader of the pack of three boys born two, then three years after his entrance into the world resented my place as the responsible one. My mother and father placed me in that position, as they knew I could be counted on. My brother, wanted to be more than the leader of his brothers, he wanted to be “in charge” when my parents were not at home.
My eldest brother and I shared a love/hate relationship until his death a few years ago. I loved him; however, I was always suspicious of his motives. He loved me; but resented my influence with my dad. He and my dad’s power struggle lasted until my dad’s death. At the time of his death, my dad had a restraining order placed on my brother.
He really seemed not to care about being punished when his broke the rules of the house my parents made. He always did whatever pleased him, no matter the consequences. When my parents opened their own business, one of the perks for us kids was Mom would bring home a partially eaten two-day old pie, that she would cut into four evenly measured pieces for us to enjoy. My brother would sneak into the kitchen early and eat two, even three pieces, knowing that howls of rage would ensue. Once my father tried reverse psychology and made him eat the remaining slice(s) that my brother had not eaten. Evan smiled as he ate the remaining pie as we cried silent tears over this miscarriage of justice.
He grew tall and slender with an easy way about himself. He was the alpha male among my brothers who had a way with women that I never understood. Even recently, while attending a funeral (it seems an often requirement nowadays), I was in the ladies room washing my hands before the repast (serving of food after the funeral service), when during a conversation with another attendee, my parent’s business came up which lead to her mentioning my brother and with a huge smile, her saying how much she really loved my brother. My response was that most women said the same thing about him. She further commented how “she missed him; he was so funny.”
I’ve thought about that conversation in the ladies room more than once and remembered other occasions with women that my brother loved. And he loved them all. And they loved him in return. He never married. He was a rascal, if ever there was one.
He joined the army right after high school and the uniform only added to his mystic. At that time, my two sons and I lived in an apartment building that faced a twin building with a courtyard in between where the children safely played. When Evan, wearing his uniform, came to visit while on leave before being sent to another state for training, one of my female neighbors saw him and asked about my visitor. When I answered, “he’s my brother, Evan,” she became very animated and almost salivated as she asked for more details about his status. I answered as honestly as I could; because all I knew was that he was not married; however, she was. Her husband was in prison for some reason or another and she was lonely, I guess.
The two of them started an affair that had the whole apartment complex talking. When Evan left town for training, she would come over to my place and cry and whine about missing him and her love for him. I was incredulous…what was this married woman with two children talking about? In less than two weeks she was talking about divorcing her gangster husband so that she could marry Evan. My response to her was “you must be crazy, Evan will never marry you. He has other women in his life and he is not the marrying kind.” Plus, I was concerned about that gangster husband of hers and what he might do to Evan upon his release from prison (no matter how I felt about my relationship with Evan, he was still my brother). My words did not deter her. As tears rolled down her heartbrokenly screwed up face, she declared her undying love for Evan. Of course, he didn’t married her, and only saw her a few times after their few days together.
Evan had one child out-of-wedlock, a beautiful daughter who became a part of our family. Her mother, again just as the others, was hopelessly in love and hopelessly unable to get Evan to the altar. However, she did manage to receive blessings from my mother. It’s ironic how much she resembled my mother; they could have passed for mother and daughter.
Evan died a few years ago remaining uncaring even about this health. The last days of his life were lived on the streets of San Francisco where they referred to him as “Pops.” In order to find him one had to send out word that a family member or friend needed to see him. A phone call from him allowed the visit.
His capacity for management and leadership always impressed me, even as I did not understand the power he wielded over those in his circle of acquaintances. My two other brothers followed his leadership into the abyss of nothingness as lives and loves go.
My regret is that I did not understand him, ever. His military funeral seemed incongruous to the life he led and the death he suffered. As taps was played and the flag folded and passed to his daughter sitting in front of me, I wondered, what could have been? His death was expected as he refused to care for himself. He had veteran’s benefits and had very good health care offered, but he did not follow his doctor’s advice. He had a stomach problem called pancreatitis, which caused him much pain, however, although this condition did not change his life style and he only checked into the veteran’s hospital when the pain became too unbearable to function. Upon his release, he went back to unhealthy eating, drugs and living on the streets.
He also lived by his own morality. The woman who loved him and bore his child had three beautiful daughters when they met. After years, she finally moved on and married another, Evan started a relationship with her eldest daughter. She, the daughter, was something of a rebel also. That was right down Evan’s alley. I heard the daughter recently boast about her being the only person who could, at will, find Evan during his life on the streets of the city.
Sometimes an understanding of what goes on in life is not to be understood. I regret not understanding my brother. He lived life as the Frank Sinatra song written by Paul Anka, testifies, which was quoted by more than one guest at Evan’s funeral “he did it his way.”