It doesnt matter who or what you are as a kid, there will be something other kids tease you about. It doesnt matter what painful, or how personal your issues are, your brothers will torment you with them and you will retaliate. For that reason, I do not put a lot of store in my brother making fun of me when I was a fat kid as a major part of my eating problems. Sure, it hurt. Sure, I ate when I hurt, so his teasing made me eat more. But in all fairness, he wet the bed for a long time and I used it to destroy his self esteem every chance I got. Lets face facts. No one knows you better than your brothers and sisters and as your sibling we feel a God-given right to hurt you. That is just the way it is.
When I was 14 several life altering events took place in my life. My father was a preacher, but that didnt put food on the table so he also ran a commercial window washing business out of our home. He and my brothers would use a scaffold and wash the windows on big banks and office buildings. On my 14th birthday, they had a job to do at the Union Planters bank in downtown Memphis Tennessee. It was a Sunday so I know this must have been an important job, meaning we must have really needed the money. It was the only Sunday I can remember, my parents skipping church. But it was my birthday and I didnt have a lot of friends and they would be making a big deal out of it and announcing it at Sunday service (as they did everyones birthday) and I wanted to go. I NEVER argued with my father. I never insisted or begged him to change his mind if he said no about anything, because he had a temper and Lord knows what would happen. That day I did. I cried. I wanted to go to church. We always went to church. Why would the one Sunday we skipped church have to be my birthday! To my surprise, Dad gave in. He would drop the boys off at the building early so they could set up the equipment, drop me off at church then go back and finish the job. I had settled into the service and about half an hour had passed when someone ran in the door and said, Terry Hunter (my brother) had fallen five floors from the bank building and the scaffold had fell on top of him. I wanted to leave, but I my Aunt said nowe would wait until after service. The service seemed to take forever. My mind was on my family. Mom was in Mississippi at our house. She didnt drive. How would she get to the hospital? Terry was only 18. He was married and had a six-month-old daughter. His wife thought she was pregnant. Where was Steven, (my brother who was with him on the job). The service finally ended and we went to the Baptist Hospital in downtown Memphis. My Uncles were in the waiting area. I could hear them talking. The doctors had told my dad he couldnt go back there, but he pushed past them and held Terrys hand. Every bone was broken. Who cleaned up the blood? I didnt see my mom. Steven was in shock. They had found him crying in a phone booth. He didnt remember his name or phone number. They talked like I wasnt there. Like I wasnt part of the family.
Dad came out from behind two doors. He was bloody. He said, Terry is gone. He was crying. I never saw my dad cry. He looked at me. He looked in my eyes and said, it wouldnt have happened if I had been there. The veins in his face were showing. It may have been grief. It looked like anger. He said he should have been there. I heard, I would have been there if you had not been such a brat. Your birthday. Big deal. Terry is dead, because it was your birthday. You were so selfish you had to have your moment, and now Wendy has no father. Patricia has no husband. We have no first-born son. I wanted to take it back. I wanted to say Im sorry! Well skip church. I dont need a birthday! Dont die! It was too late.
Later that night, Patricia had a miscarriage and lost the baby she thought she was carrying. It seemed the pain would go on forever. Steve would go on to have years of problems from seeing his brother fall and die. Momma reached out to God. She held strong for her and dad. Me? I reached out to food. I ate when I was sad. I ate because of the guilt. I ate, and got bigger and bigger to give my dad a reason to hate me more. I ate to not feel. Anything anyone could call me could not be as bad as I actually was. I never wanted to have another birthday. It would be years before I really celebrated again.