I’ve been anxious to write a particular story from my past. Anxious in a good way, as well as a not-so-great way. I listened to the advice from a dear friend. The universe presented me with numerous prompts that fit my story. Sadje’s, Sunday Poser and Linda’s JusJoJan were the signs I needed to go forward. Thanks Ritu for giving the prompt word, chocolate, today.
It all happened in the early 1970s, so I’m doing my best to remember the details. My older brother enlisted in the army. The Vietnam War was in full force. I had friends that had lost their lives fighting. I didn’t think we should be involved in the whole mishegoss. Even though I believed we had no business being there, I had compassion for those that went willingly or unwillingly.
For reasons unknown to me, my brother reached out by writing me a letter. My paternal grandmother urged me to respond despite the way he had always treated me. I won’t lie, my first reaction was to give him a dose of his own medicine. I wanted to respond in a not-so-nice way. (I won’t explain further about this.) I decided to act like the bigger person. I was willing to start with a clean slate , now that he was in combat. I heard horror stories about what it was like being away from family and friends and fighting in a foreign country. I wondered if I was in some way, a connection to his life at home.
We exchanged a few letters. I felt like he was a different person. Instead of treating me like the dumb girl he was forced to share a family with, he seemed interested in my life for the first time. He even offered some sweet advice about someone I was dating. (He knew the guy from high school.)
I thought the universe must had spun in an opposite direction, because there could be no other explanation for the change in his personality. At some point, I asked if there was anything in particular, I could send to him. He asked if I was still baking delicious cookies. He knew I had been baking cookies for the VFW that my mom belonged to. I jumped at the chance to do something to help. My standard was always Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies. I’d make others if asked of course. I personally love peanut butter cookies so they were usually in the mix of what I made.
I asked my mom if she could afford to buy me ingredients to make cookies for my older brother. She told me to give her a list and she would do her best to cooperate. I spent weekend after weekend baking cookies. I’d turn up my music real loud and listen to the songs that made me happy. (No stepdads in the house then.) I scoured cookbooks I checked out at the library to find new cookie recipes. I didn’t think my brother was allergic to anything, so I was surprised when he asked me to not send anything with almonds in it. He later explained that it had something to do with the length of time it took the box to get there and the almonds. (I don’t remember exactly what the issue was, and I couldn’t find anything on Google.)
I typically mailed off twelve dozen cookies every weekend. It was a labor of love, on my part. I learned that air popped popcorn made a great insulator. I babysat to earn the money for shipping. I was baking and mailing things off at a very fast pace. Once I started dating my first husband, I slowed down the cookie project tremendously.
When my brother returned to the US, things were different. He was not as mean to me, but he was never kind either. I am not insinuating that he was just using me, but…. I was really hurt by what happened. I expected to finally have a decent older brother in my life. I expected too at least be able to be civil with each other. Neither of those ever occurred.
One of the many nails in the coffin of our relationship occurred later. I learned that the reason he wanted all those homemade cookies from me was because he was selling them. So yes, I have been hurt by my expectations. I expected common decency.