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Our birthday is coming up

Kaisu

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I thought that I would write about my brother.

He was an affectionate little boy. There is a picture of us about age two where he is hugging me. The look on his face is pure joy; on mine - impatient toleration. My mother says that he was always trying to hug me and I was always pushing him away. When I actually let him hug me, they took a picture because it was so rare.

He did not socialize well with others. I was always on the go, learning languages from my neighbors. He was in a corner, playing with a truck. He once told me that he wanted a truck with a trailer that was 8 miles long. I was truly puzzled and asked him how he would make the 90 degree turn into a neighboring town. He was very angry with me. It was a missed connection.

When we started school, we headed to first grade, neither one of us speaking English. (The neighbors were Italian) We went in hand in hand. The older boys offered us chewing gum just as the bell rang. The teacher was screaming at us to "spit it out" and we had no idea she was talking to us or what she was saying. One of the other finnish kids filled us in. I still remember how my face burnt as we went to the wastebasket and "spit it out".

It reminds of the time other kids taught us to say "F--- you you b-----d" as the proper way to ask for candy at the corner store. Pretty funny now.

My mother had decided that she wanted to learn English with us, so she would check our papers after school. I started getting stars on my papers and my brother didn't. We would walk home and try to come up with a believable story - "She ran out of stars" was one. Mother stopped checking after a while.

By Christmas, I was reading English. By the end of the year, I was promoted to second grade and my brother was left behind. It was the beginning of the end.

Horrible things happened to him. He was hospitalized in a town 4 hours away due to physical damage from abuse. He was soiling himself due to lack of sphincter tone. How ashamed he must have been. I missed him so much when he was gone.

When he came home, he told me wonderful stories about the hospital. I wanted to go to the hospital too. A year later, before my own hospitalization, he confessed that his stories had been made up. He didn't want me to expect it to be a wonderful place.

There is so much more to my brother. I will keep writing as I can. I am crying now and will stop for a bit.

Thank you for reading.



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