I am one of eight kids – more of that in a later post! But one of the best parts of being in a large family was the very close bond that I had with my brother Jeff (who was one year younger than me) and my brother Kyle (who was three years younger than me). We spent the first fourteen years of our lives either wrestling and fighting with each other, or running around in circles and getting into some sort of trouble together. That must be why Mom has a halo and a spot reserved for her in heaven.
But one of the best things in the world, though, was when we were kids, Dad was one of the early musicians working at Disneyland. This meant that during many days in the summer, Dad and a couple of his friends could get me, Jeff and Kyle into the park for free. As fourteen thru eleven year olds, it was a dream come true to be able to spend all day together, roaming around Disneyland. We discovered every nook and cranny of that place. We never got into trouble, but we became experts on all of the little known spots in the park.
At that time they used tickets to get on the rides, and we had the books with A through E tickets. E tickets were for the really cool rides like the Haunted Mansion and the A tickets were for the dumb rides like the street trolleys. Needless to say, by the end of the summers we would have drawers full of unused A tickets.
We had so much fun, especially because we were doing it together. We always got to stay late enough with Dad to see the fireworks show. And we had jobs and some money at that point, mostly from paper routes, so we could buy lunch and dinners. It was especially fun to go to the Golden Horseshoe Revue and watch the show with Dad playing drums in the band and eat a hamburger lunch.
As we grew up, Jeff, Kyle and my feelings of closeness ebbed and reformed over the years. Having families of our own tended to keep us apart more than we liked, but that was life.
Then the real earthquake hit three years ago when Jeff died suddenly from complications arising from his long time fight with Lymphoma. Yesterday was his birthday and the hole in my heart still hasn’t healed – and probably never will. He was a very special man, husband and father. But he was and will always be one of my little brothers and my best friend.