THE PICKLE IN THE MIDDLE...
I have told you about my big brother, "Gee", and my baby brother, "Jerry." I had another brother called "Jay" who was just four years and sixteen days younger than I was. Of the boys, he was "the pickle in the middle." Strange that I thought of him that way? Yes, but of all Mom's chicks, this one was the one who was different. He was tall, long of leg and arm, and could have doubled for Robert Taylor. His brown eyes seemed always to be laughing at the world.
I loved "Jay" because he was my brother, but I did not like some of the things he did that I thought were wrong. I think he may have been my mother's favorite, because I recall Grandpa telling her "You shouldn't spoil that one so much, Aline, because he is the one who will make you cry." Of course, she didn't listen.
"Jay" thought he was better than the rest of us - better than any one, in fact. That was why when he got taken down a peg or two, we all thought it was a laughable matter. Once, all Mom had to cook was sweet potatoes - she boiled them, she fried them, she baked them - but that did not change them into anything other than sweet potatoes.
Well, "Jay" was attending high school in nearby Abbeville, and one day he brought a friend home for lunch. And guess what? Yep, Mom had baked sweet potatoes and fresh milk for us to eat. "Jay" was totally embarrassed. But the rest of us laughed and someone remarked, "Too bad they don't have a car. They'd have plenty gas to get them back to school!"
"Jay" bragged about what a good boxer he was, and when a team of college boxers came to Perry one night to put on a show, little old Slim Jim "Jay" challenged one of the heavyweights. The guy kept knocking him down, "Jay" kept getting up and grinning at his opponent, and I kept yelling, "Jay," if you don't hit him back, I'm gonna' tell Mom!" Finally, "Jay" got laid out cold. Then he had to find something else to brag about.
When he was 21, "Jay" joined the Army. While stationed in South Carolina, he married a girl who was of French and Indian descent. They had one child, a darling little red-haired boy who everyone called "Sonny." I was his godmother when he was baptized at St. John's Cathedral in Lafayette.
I cannot say that my brother and I were very close, but we did mend some fences before he died in Houma, Louisiana, in the mid-1980s. At my urging, "Jerry" called to talk to "Jay" while he was in the hospital and they reconciled. I called "Jerry" the next morning to tell him "Jay died at ten last night." He couldn't believe it, because he had talked to him at eight. Maybe that reconcilation was what "Jay" was waiting for before he could let go.
"Sonny" lives in South Carolina. I sometimes get a Christmas card from his wife, Dianne. It would be nice to see him again, but I don't expect to.
Copyright © 2001 Aline T. Meaux, Abbeville, LA
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