Friday, August 28, 2009

Wayne

My brother Wayne was born 4 years after me.

He was the cute one ... blonde hair, big grin, always dancing and singing ... yes, he had the cheeks that all the moms wanted to pinch. Not that mine weren't pinch-able ... they were just so fat that you had to use two hands. Wayne was a crowd pleaser and a natural entertainer. My mom loved to get him cranked up in front of company and he loved to perform.

He was so much better with my parents than I was. I would disappear when other adults came over ... just when Wayne would start his third set. Funny ... now that I think of how much my personality has changed since that time. I really wasn't outgoing at all when I was younger. In fact my best friend in New Orleans (ironically his name is Wayne too) didn't even remember me in Elementary School and I sat next to him for six years.

High School was really the turning point for me. I got skinny, girls finally talked to me and I was finally not picked last for PE touch football games. Thank God there was a kid who was slower than me ... even in his wheelchair.

Anyway ... Wayne and I were typical brothers. I told him what to do and he had to listen because he was my slave. We used to play in the backyard, pretending that it was a jungle and I ... of course ... was Tarzan. Wayne was "Boy". He would hunt for food and bring it to me as I lounged in our Japanese plum tree. Although the tree seemed like it was 100 feet tall, it probably was about 3 feet to the first limb. Other days, we would turn the yard into the Ponderosa. I would alternately play Ben, Hoss, Adam and Little Joe. Wayne would be Hop Sing. He brought me food.

Later in life, Wayne became a talented actor and musician ... a great drummer. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer when he was 39 years old. He underwent three brain surgeries, a bone marrow transplant and lived three years longer than anyone expected. He kept active for most of those years, taking the opportunity to talk to cancer survivor groups, travelling and working when he could.

He died in October of 1995 at 42 years old ... I called him Tarzan.

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