My sister~in~law, who occasionally maintains a blog at duchess&theduke, is considering writing a book about my brother, Mark, for my nephew ~ the aforementioned Duke. I think this is a great idea as it will gather everyone's memories into one spot & help the Duke remember his daddy, warts & all. Fifty years down the track I still distinctly remember my reaction to finding out I had yet another little brother; 'Feed him to the sharks.' I have no idea why my parents did not take this very sound advice.
The thing is though, I have very few clear memories of Mark as a child. He was one annoying little brother & to say we did not get on would be one of the world's great understatements. I once threw him across a room & I riled him so much he threw a knife at me. It was war. I was a quiet & introspective kid. Mark, like my Ditz, was company incorporated. If he couldn't do it with company it wasn't worth doing. Actually he could easily have given Dino's quote as to why he came to school; to socialise & play sport. It certainly wasn't to learn.
We grew up & found that blood meant we shared a few more things in common than the odd gene or two. He became someone I actually liked & whose company I could endure without wanting to kill him. He married a wonderful woman who is strong enough to live without him but I find myself in a quandary when I am asked to talk about my memories of him. There's just this blank space that Mark used to inhabit when I was a child but we didn't share. Boy germs. He was 4 years younger. I was already in pre~school when he arrived & year by year of my childhood that gap just grew wider.
My brothers shared a room ~ not always equitably. Mark was not the easiest person to live with. My brothers sailed together. Mark was crew, John skippered. This suited them. John was the competitive one, so much so that in one disagreement Mark lept overboard & started swimming for the shore. John hauled him aboard, not out of concern for his safety but because he would be disqualified if he did not cross the finish line with his crew aboard!!!
Later on they abseiled together, flew together, shared the same friends, went to the same youth group, same schools, enjoyed cruising together~ all things I was not a part of or simply did not enjoy. Even when we had a shared interest we came to it from totally different viewpoints. Take the Arthurian Legend. Mark read & loved the whole Le Morte de Arthur. He loved Talesien. Both make me wild ~eyed because they are historically inaccurate in huge ways. I'm not sure Mark ever understood what I hated about them. Mark loved living out west in a small country town. I'm an island girl. Mark had a knack for simplifying things; I complicate them. Mark was the life of everyone's party & had more friends than he could count. I am the life of no~one's party & a decidedly acquired taste.
Mark was the world's worst driver. He rolled the family minor minor so often on the same corner coming home that the residents, on hearing him coming, would wait for the inevitable so they could help tip the car the right way up again. Definitely a hands on learner! He kept rolling it until he learnt not too! His driving was so appalling that John always insisted on doing the driving to & from their flying lessons & someone is on record as saying it was as well the boy wanted to fly ~ far less to hit up there. I always said the difference between John & Mark was Mark would go with his gut & John would go by the book. I figured by the time John had worked his way through the book it would be far too late to rectify any problem & always felt safer if Mark was doing the flying. I still feel that way two years after Mark's crop duster ploughed into the dirt. Whatever happened up there in those final moments I know Mark met it with courage & determination & the joi de vere that was so much a part of him. He was one of the happiest people I have ever known.