Many of us grow up in families with siblings close in age. My parents had four children over the course of three different decades. My eldest brother David was born in 1946 when my mother was newly twenty. My sister Sharon followed two years later; my brother Steve four years after that. I was what was called a “change-of-life-baby” back then, born in 1961 when my mother was thirty-five. By then, my siblings were fifteen, thirteen, and nine. Before I was old enough to really know him, David left home for the Vietnam war as a young Marine. I served as Sharon’s flower girl in her wedding when I was just five-years-old. Steve was already a teenager by the time I began Kindergarten.
One would think we would be fragmented because of our age differences. While it is true after my siblings had all left our parents’ house to pursue their own lives I was very lonely and spent a lot of time wishing for a baby brother, the strength of family bonds remained. For much of our lives we didn’t communicate on a daily basis or see each other as much as we would have liked, but whenever one of us was in need, one or more of the others was always there to help. And, age has a way of equalizing people. The older we grew, the closer we became. I was no longer “the baby.” They were no longer a trio. We became the “Fab Four.”
On March 18, 2020 Steve passed away changing our family dynamic forever. Growing up, the love I had for the sibling closest to me in age was boundless. My earliest memory of Stevie, or “Stevie Boy” as he was called when we were children, is also my earliest memory of David. They had nicknamed me “Peanut.” One brother held my arms; the other, my legs. Swinging me back and forth they would shout, “We’re throwing a Peanut to the elephants.” This was pure bliss to a three-year-old.
When someone passes, memories flood our minds in an effort to bring our loved one back, making him live again, reminding us how much his life mattered. Steve protecting me from monsters in the middle of the night as I ran to his room crying. Steve growing up and suddenly wearing long hair and an army jacket. Steve experiencing the awe and wounds of teenage love. Steve allowing my friends and me to use his stereo to listen to his “very cool” music. Steve meeting the love of his life and dancing at his wedding. Steve telling me when I was a college sophomore he was expecting a baby.
As it should be, Steve’s focus in life became his own family and his profession as a police officer. Still, throughout my life he was always there to help me whenever I needed him. He talked me through anxiety attacks when I was a young mother. His door was always open to my family, and my three sons grew up swimming in his pool and eating chocolate he gave them just before it was time to go home. He helped my oldest son and me navigate some difficult teen years. As a retired police officer, he advised me when I was the victim of a crime. Just before both of our lives took diverse paths, he shared a lifetime of wisdom over long breakfasts at his favorite restaurants.
Many things changed for the four of us throughout the years. There were times when the “Fab Four” fractured–times when arguments and distance ruled. Despite ill feelings, in times of need those shards were mended. Always. The foundation of family first remained solid.
Now, the trio that is left faces something that cannot be fixed. All we have are wishes. A wish for a different outcome. A wish for better choices. A wish for happiness instead of sorrow. A wish for more memories.
In two short days we will have to say our final goodbyes to our brother. To others we will look like a trio of grieving siblings, but in our hearts we know we are still the “Fab Four.” For now, distance rules, but in the breadth of time only for a little while.
~Rest in Peace Steven C. Scallion Our Beloved Brother~