I feel as time goes on memory distills the details out and what is left are the pivotal moments, the things that stay deep in your heart, the memories that play like a small homemade movie in your mind. My brother and I and the rest of our sisters and brothers were thrown together and apart at different times during our early turbulent years. Our father was a high rolling crook with abundant charm and a strong mercurial streak. The rest of us, his family, his wife and children, tumbled in his slipstream, navigating our way over steep falls and crevices sometimes making mad leaps of faith into the unknown.
My brother and I had spent some time apart. He was left to live in Spain by himself at 14 and I was in Mississauga with my mother. The rest of my brothers and sisters were older and had scattered around the world. My brother returned from Spain a different boy then I had known and when we came together as a family again in my mother’s small apartment we were almost strangers.
It’s not that I felt that we didn’t love each other. As kids you don’t think in terms of love. Life is more immediate than that. You think in terms of ‘what is he doing in my room?’ which I was now forced to share. You think in terms of ‘why has he turned my girl room into a Frank Zappa love den. You think about his smelly feet. You think about how he snores and how it makes you want to strangle him. I’m sure his thoughts were same same but different.
We rarely did anything together.Together was sharing the room and living life as a small broken family with my mother and my brother fighting . So I’m not sure how it happened that we went bicycling that day. It was summer and somehow we decided we would go bicycling. And when I think back on it now it seemed like such an ordinary kid thing to do. Go biking. But for us that wasn’t normal.
But somehow we went. And it was sunny and we had some destination in mind, we were going somewhere for a reason I can no longer remember. And I remember feeling carefree and the worries of my young life fell away as we biked and biked down Lakeshore Road, over Port Credit River, down Stavebank Road under the shade of the beautiful summer trees. I remember feeling the sun on my arms and face, long before there were stern warnings of sun exposure.
I remember the smell of the fragrant summer air and I am sure in that moment neither of us had a care in the world. We just biked and biked with me chasing behind him over the roads, past houses and trees. And I remember biking up a road, now long paved, that was unfinished and I struggled up the hill with my bike. I remember feeling my tires spinning without moving and I could see my brother pull ahead of me as he made his way effortlessly up the hill. And before I knew it I had fallen on the gravel road. And I had the reaction that I still have to this day when I fall or hurt myself.
I started to cry as I looked at my bloodied knee. And I was upset because the moment was broken. And I worried my brother would leave me on the road. And I sat on the road and cried while summer carried on around me. And suddenly my brother was by my side asking me if I was okay. Are you okay? Are you okay? Yeah, I’m okay. And he helped me up. And we carried on to wherever it was we were going that day. And I still have that scar on my knee. And whenever I see that scar I remember that summer day and my brother and the feeling that whatever we had both been through we were going to be okay. And I’ll never forget it ever.