Memorial day is meant to remember those who have lost their lives fighting for our country.It wasn't until I married that I personally knew someone serving IN the armed forces.
My Dad served 2 years in the Navy, that was all I knew, personally.
That is until my Uncle died, then the stories...He is a hero to me, I wish I could have told him that; heard his stories from him, but that just wasn't who he was. No, he would tell us stories about how he was a cowboy and chased Indians on horseback...he really didn't. He loved western movies, so I think that is where he got his inspiration.
It is ironic how death makes you see someone differently, see them more acutely.
I grew up on a small block of ramblers. Most of our neighbors were older, grandpa's and grandma's already. The only other "kid" was a boy across the street who was 1-2 years older then my sister; who was 2 1/2 years older then I. So he was like a "big kid" to me. I remember sneaking into his garage and playing with his matchbox cars. Sometimes, I thought they would play much better if they were in my yard!
He would get mad, storm over and yell at me.
"Sara, you can't just take my cars!"
or "Look now! You got this one full of sand!"
or "This is a collectible!"
Well I know it's collectible, why do you think I was trying to put them in like piles? Blue ones, red ones, green ones...
He would huff out a defeated breath and say; "Okay Sara you can have this one. But NO more!"
I would hold that car in my hand like it was a precious jewel. It was mine. And Mikey gave it to me.
Mikey was the youngest of 4 boys. Mikey hated being called "Mikey", it was Michael. I was the only one who wouldn't get pummeled for calling him that.
Oh, my sister tried and she got a fat lip for it too!
She deserved most of what she got from Mikey, she was mean and she called people names, so Mikey made sure she didn't get away with it.
Mom told Sherri to stay away from "Mike", that if she couldn't get along with him to stay away from him, even when he was in our yard. He was often in our yard, collecting his matchbox cars from me!
I remember when they got a pigeon coop. It had a latch on the door and all these different ramps and ledges inside for the birds to sit on. The floor was always full of poo, but I rarely looked at the floor, how could you when there were such beautiful birds cooing all around you?
Sherri locked me inside it once. I screamed bloody murder until Mikey found me and let me out.
Oh, I hugged him and cried "She locked me in Mikey! She locked me inside!"
He stroked my hair and told me not to cry. Once I stopped, he pulled me back and said all serious; "Sara you are not to go in there. You are not supposed to open the latch. The birds could get out."
At this I would pout and stomp my feet and shake his arms off me and yell: "You always tell me what I can't do! Mikey you're as mean as Sherri!"
Then he would smile; "No I'm not."
"Yes. Yes you are Mikey Brown, you are mean."
He would reach out to tickle me, I knew it was coming and I was fast!
I was laughing and screaming all at once. He was faster, he would chase me down and tickle me until I would say he wasn't mean.
I remember when Mikey got a tent and I was going to sleep outside in it with him. We were going to camp right there in his back yard.
The tent was cool, I liked hearing the zipper zip closed. Then I lay there: "Mikey? What if someone zips it open and takes us?"
"Sara who's going to take us?"
"Somebody meaner than Sherri."
He laughed. He poked me in the ribs and asked; "Who's meaner then Sherri?"
He was teasing me, but I was still scared.
He put his arm under my head and said; "Sara I'll protect you."
We laid there for awhile, not saying anything, I rolled over and tried to fall asleep, but the wind kicked up and rattled the tent. I tried to see if Mikey was still awake, his eyes were closed. I nudged him. Nothing.
"Mikey?" I whispered.
"Mikey, I'm scared."
He rolled over and looked at me.
He looked disappointed, he crawled out of his sleeping bag and rolled mine up under his arm and he walked me home.
My mom was waiting at the door, she didn't say anything when I trudged up the steps. Mikey said it for me; "She's too scared."
My mom nodded and said goodnight. As I walked to my room I saw Mikey crossing the street, and I heard his door slam, he didn't go back to sleep in the tent.
Mikey was the only one of the Brown boys that didn't play hockey, so he never wanted to go skating at the park rink in the winter. I liked going, I especially liked watching the older boys play, and sometimes Billy or Dave Brown would see me and yell; "Hey little Sara! Come to watch the boys play a real sport?"
I liked when the recognized me and talked to me. They were very cute. They also teased Mikey about liking music instead of sports.
Mikey could sing, and play the piano. I liked when I got to hear him sing. We used to put on shows in my basement. He would drape sheets from the ceiling for curtains and lay out mats for our stage. He would bring over his boombox and piano and he would sing and I would dance and sometimes sing back-up but only when Mikey said because :"Sara you have to sing on key or it sounds awful!"
My favorite was when he would sing Neil Diamond.
"Sara you sing bum bum bummmmmm, at this part."
To this day every time I hear that song I see Mikey Brown.
Then we moved. I remember it.
He was sitting in his garage and the trucks were loaded with our things and Mom said "Go say goodbye to Mike."
I didn't know what she meant, why goodbye, we weren't moving that far.
"Hi Mikey, Mom says I have to say goodbye now."
He didn't even look up, so I knelt down and started fondling the matchbox cars he was organizing.
Each one I picked up, he'd snatch back and put it out of my reach in another box.
Until finally I stopped, and I just stared at him.
"Mikey, you're gonna come see me at the new house right?"
"I don't have a car Sara."
I put my hand on his and said "But you will,"
"In another year Sara!"
He was mad.
"Mikey don't be mad. I'll ride my bike down."
I waited for something, anything, nothing. I got up and walked away.
I hear him come up behind me just when I reached my driveway. He hugged me super tight, I thought he kissed my head but I can't be sure because that is when he punched my arm.
"See ya Squirt!"
I couldn't say anything back, I was crying.
I don't remember time really passing, but I do remember the day a black poniac firebird pulled up into our driveway. I watched it turn onto our street and then into our driveway, I thought it must be some boy for Sherri, some knuckledheaded boy who thought my sister was hot and wanted to get in her pants. Bletch.
Then I heard "Hey Squirt!"
I said running and jumping up into his arms! He spun me around until I was dizzy.
He set me down slowly making sure I wasn't going to tip over like usual.
"Told ya!" I said.
"Told me what?"
"That you'd have a car!"
"Want to go for a ride?"
I ran into the house long enough to shout: "Mikey's here and we're going for a ride! Bye!"
His car was fast! His car was loud! His car was awesome!
My heart was sad when we turned back onto my street, he came in for awhile to chat with my mom.
He kindly asked about Sherri, but I knew it was for show because I would hear her say she saw "Mikey Brown at school, and man what a geek he is!"
After my parent's divorce, Mom and I moved to another city, Dad and Sherri stayed so she could finish high school.
Once I got my drivers license I drove to see Mikey's new apartment. He told me all about his brothers, and school and then he told me about his music and I begged him to sing Neil Diamond to me, which of course he did. I remember hugging him goodbye that evening and kissing him on the mouth for the first time ever. Just a simple kiss, nothing more nothing less, but it was the one and only.
He moved out of state to pursue music. I went on to graduate and then I moved out to Boston to work as a nanny. I found my way back to Minnesota and while downtown I recgonized him standing across the street watching the same parade I was...
"Mikey!" I called.
It took at least 3 for him to hear me and find me in the crowd and realize yes, someone was talking to him!
I waited for a break in the procession and then bolted straight for him.
I wrapped my arms around him and noticed he was bigger then before, but so was I. We talked about all that we had done since we saw each other last. Sherri crossed the street just to see him and hear what he had to say, though it meant nothing to her and she cared very little.
We promised to stay in touch.
Mikey got to meet my husband, but did not come to our wedding, I'm not sure if I didn't invite him becuase I had no current address or he couldn't make it. But he was not there.
I also don't remember how Mikey died, just that he did, suddenly.
I remember being very upset, and feeling sad that some of his dreams never did come true, sad that he was the odd one in his family and he was often lonely because of that.
Mikey had a devilish smile, that could hide his insecurities well. He had a wonderful voice and big soft heart. He also had a birthday next to mine; His March 28, mine March 29.
We lived across the street from each other for 11 years, our first dog was a puppy from his, he taught me to ride a bike and I taught him how to feed and diaper a dolly!
He taught me about Neil Diamond and I convinced him Michael Jackson's Thriller album should be our next "show"!
I'm still deathly afraid to sleep in a tent, and pigeon poo doesn't bother me.
I still think black Pontiac Firebirds are cool.
And I still think about the boy who lived across the street and let me call him "Mikey."