Poem: “Jim” and “And Then There Were Nine”



This one’s for you, the man you’ve become.
There were many years we had no connection, for whatever reason we’ve made the correction.
We’ve missed so much because of the choices we’ve made, and there seems little time to make up the gain.
So before it is too late for you to know, that maybe what counts, in spite of the past, that at least we know what life is and what it isn’t…
I’m here to tell you how very lucky I am to have found the time to say simply, I love you Big Brother.
I wish you peace and strength for all that is left…
You will live forever in my memory, in my heart and in my soul.
Thank you for being a part of my life.

November, 1985
Mary Barto

And Then There Were Nine

This February it will be two years since we found out our family was not so special.

It was an unspoken feeling, a never whispered knowledge, a notion we all held, although never shared…

Until now.

After all, with the exception of our father, whose condition was a result of a childhood illness, we had clean lines, pure blood, never tainted… We descended from pioneer stock! Our ancestors crossed the plains in covered wagons. Some of our forefathers came to this country before the revolutionary war.

We were ten strong, healthy (though a little crazy) siblings. What we set out to do, we did. When we set our sites, we took aim, and succeeded. We were perhaps cocky, but we were invincible!

Invincible does not exist…

I’ll never forget the night I got the phone call.  I don’t even remember who called.  I only remember the feeling of panic, the hot/cold of my skin, the tears being held back, but most of all, the scream welling up in my gut, pushing its way out.

I walked frantically and endlessly around, not knowing for the first time in my life, what to do, who to call.

Alone, I just kept walking, on the edge. My daughter came in, looked at me, and said, “Mamma, what’s the matter?” I grabbed her, held her, cried and cried, and said, “My brother, your Uncle Jim is very, very, sick!”

…and now he’s gone…

January, 1986
Mary Barto


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