My brother is an interesting guy.
I was born four years after him and following in his footsteps was never easy. In high school, he played football, basketball, baseball and even helped the tennis team one year in his free time.
I am much bigger than he is. Obviously, Chickasha, Oklahoma, coaches were excited to have a bigger version of him coming through their systems. Instead, they got me.
As a freshman, I tore up my knee and my only varsity letters were two years of tennis and four years as an academic letterman — not exactly what the football, basketball and baseball coaches had hoped for.
Skip ahead a few years and my brother actually became a pastor. Thanks, big brother. He never had a problem setting the bar high.
He and I couldn’t be more different in most ways.
One of those ways showed up recently when he smashed a “playhouse” in my mom’s backyard. He and I had discussed the idea that it has needed to be knocked down for years. We helped my dad build it about 30 years ago. The plant where my dad worked always shut down for two weeks each summer. He would take off a week before and a week after and make it a full month.
The month he was off was always the month we worked hardest because he had projects for us. The playhouse for my first niece and nephew was one of those. We used pallets and plywood for walls and put a roof on it with shingles. For 15 years or so, it made a nice place for spiders and stray cats to hang out. But the last decade or so, even stray cats were risking their lives going in there.
So my brother tore it down. There was no plan. We didn’t get a dumpster in which to haul it off. We didn’t even work together on it. He sent a text one day saying he had torn it down and was hauling off some of it.
I got to go down to my mother’s house this week to take more of it from the backyard to the road for the sanitation crews to take off on a special “big trash day.”
I had taken a few loads down to the road when I had a flashback of one of my funniest painful memories.
I went to load the door to the playhouse on a wheelbarrow and the hinges swung around and almost pinched my fingers. That was where the memory came in.
Almost the exact same thing happened almost three decades ago when I was helping put the door in the little building. I picked up the door and it swung around and slammed on my fingers. I threw it down and tried to ascertain if I had broken one or eight fingers.
That was when I heard something I had never heard before. “Dammit, Kent!”
That’s when I started laughing. I had never in my life heard my dad cuss and it sounded hilarious when he said it. I’m still not sure if he was mad at me for being stupid or if he was scared there would be an emergency room visit he would have to pay for because of me picking up a door upside down. Fortunately, I was hurt, not injured.
This week, I almost made the same mistake again. But the older and wiser me didn’t smash any fingers — otherwise someone else would have had to type this column as I dictated it.
But I got another good laugh out of it. I heard about my dad cussing one other time when he hit a deer in my mom’s Cadillac. That’s really it.
I very rarely cuss and it is far less frequent around my kids. I haven’t been as good as my dad, but that’s almost always true.
I’m just glad that even memories of me getting hurt can be good memories with my dad. Even if it was because me and a big dead deer are the only two creatures on earth ever to make my dad cuss.
— Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.