My brother Benjamin died young. He had one daughter, Tam, to whom I am Auntie. I was nine years old when he was born and I remember it well. The most vivid thing I remember about his birth was that he kicked our brother, David, out of the of the "only male grandchild" and "the baby" category all at the same time with some results that we will not go into since I value my brother David.
Benjamin was an instigator all his life. I use that word deliberately where some might use "trouble maker" but many of the things he instigated were not trouble. He had a good friend when we lived in Bauxite. What those two could not think up could not be thought up. We lived in a company house that had the whole Hurricane Creek bottom as a backyard and in those days children were free to roam as they pleased. We roamed. We did things I am sure my mother would have lost her mind over if she had known. But one vivid and I mean VIVID memory I have is of the afternoon Ben and his friend found and killed a huge black snake and then threw it at me.
His grin was infectious and he had more energy than anyone I have ever known. In adulthood that energy went into his career and his daughter, Tam. He made friends everywhere, he was very much like Daddy who never met a stranger and always knew all our neighbors no matter where we lived.
We kind of got out of close touch during the last years of his life, so I will treasure always Christmas 1984. I had been evacuated from Bogota because of a kidnapping threat against me so was home that Christmas just by chance. Because of that we were all at home for Christmas for the first time in years. I remember him that Christmas, particularly one day when he got a call from his office and he was standing in the kitchen at the Prattsville house of my parents in a green and while striped polo shirt, talking on the phone trying to explain something to someone who just wasn't getting it.
By the next spring he was gone, in body, but not in spirit. I see so much of him in Tam, the restless energy and interest in everything. He would have been proud of her.