For those of you who don't know, Athelstan wasn't my blood brother. But from the day I met him, it didn't matter. I never had a brother before I met him, and then I had two. Athelstan and Rick Bainbridge. The Bainbridge Brothers. My heroes.
Athelstan's name was Jim. Haroun's name is Jim. Rick would introduce them "this is my brother Jim and my other brother Jim". Then I would be introduce as "our little sister, the votto queen". Then there was usually a chorus of In the Garden of Eden. Only they'd sing it In the Guard of Dovita baby, don't you know that we love her dearly. Then there'd be a lot of giggling and shoving and name calling and it would all end in a group hug.
Athelstan nicknamed my daughter Barbie Bert. Then he came with to watch her have the lead in the school play and it became, Broadway Barbie Bert. Then she learned how to drive and we bought her the Malibu. And then it became Malibu Broadway Barbie Bert. Always with a beautiful beautiful Malibu Broadway Barbie Bert.
And for me it was always my honey, my honey, you know I love you, my honey, my honey.
Don't feel bad if you can't remember. Athelstan was easy to miss because he liked it that way. He was actually kinda a stubby guy with biceps like iron. And the bandana. And the giggle. His soul was so beautiful, it glowed. Honor leaked from his pores. You couldn't get him to say a bad word about anybody no matter how much they'd hurt him. He'd walk hot coals if you asked him to, but only if it would make you happy.
And those two dogs, Jani and Jodi. The Dingo Dogs from Hell. Anybody else would have had them put to sleep. Protective of the brothers like nobody's business. When I came over, we had to lock them in the basement with Lassie reruns on the tv. Then they'd get to barking down there and we'd be upstairs laughing because that dumb ass Timmy was trapped in the well again.
Art. Paintings that made you want to fall into their world. Sculpture that made you blink because you swore it moved. Springing from his soul through his hands and usually hidden away where hardly anyone got to see it. I saw it all. My brother sure did love me.
We were just getting him back and now he's really gone. The coroner said it looked like a bomb had gone off in his chest. Two blocked valves and pulmonary emphazema. He was scheduled to have back surgery on October 25th when he should have been having a double bypass. That stupid workmens comp doctor missed a bad heart the size of a billboard. The back surgery would have killed him. I hope Rick sues that doctor's ass off. And Athelstan's probably up there right now thinking he's the luckiest man in heaven. He sure thought he was the luckiest man on earth even when the worst things happened to him. Because he knew how much we loved him. How could you not? And I miss him. My God how I miss him.
My brother's love for his new life back home with people who worshipped the ground he walked on was simply bigger than his ailing heart could handle. He died alone, asleep in his bed, with no sign of struggle. My soul takes solace that heaven has the only hands deep enough to encompass my brother's love, strength, and dignity.
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