Brother Boy

They have roasted peanuts for sale at this kid's baseball game. Six bucks per bag. That’s highway robbery, I know, but the money goes to a good cause. Baseball camp for team-members whose parents can't afford it.

I eat peanuts when I watch baseball. Roasted, boiled, or otherwise. I don’t care which kind. It’s nostalgia, really. I don’t attend ball games without them.

They have roasted peanuts for sale at this kid’s baseball game. Six bucks per bag. That’s highway robbery, I know, but the money goes to a good cause. Baseball camp for team-members whose parents can’t afford it.

The boy sitting next to me is eating peanuts. Let’s call him Derrick.

Derrick’s younger brother is on the team, a magnificent athlete.

I ask Derrick if he plays ball. “Not really,” he says. “I got asthma, doctors said I shouldn’t.”

Derrick has more than asthma. He has severe diabetes, and a few other related health problems that make him different than your typical Sears-and-Roebuck twelve-year-old.

His mother overhears us talking. She interjects.

“Derrick’s good at ART,” she says. “Show him some of your art, honey.”

Derrick is thoroughly embarrassed.

She brings out a cellphone and thumbs through photos of landscapes, portraits, and colorful drawings.

“These are good,” I remark.

“Not THAT good,” says self-effacing Derrick, still recovering from the humiliation of his braggart mother.

The crack of a bat.

Derrick’s brother smacks one. Parents go wild. Derrick’s brother runs. The third-baseman makes an error. Derrick’s brother sprints for home. It’s going to be close.

Big slide.

Safe.

Derrick is cheering so hard that my ears will never be the same. He excuses himself and leaves for a refill on peanuts.

His mother tells me Derrick has gotten good at being supportive of the other kids. It hasn’t always been easy. But then, it was Derrick who started the peanut-effort to raise money for baseball camp.

“Sometimes I’m mad at how things are,” his mother says. “Don’t seem fair that one of your kids has to fight so hard to be normal.”

Derrick’s brother runs to the fence, giddy from home-run adrenaline. He shouts to his brother. Derrick stands on the other side and wedges his hand through the chain links. They high-five.

Derrick loves his brother.

When the game is over, Derrick and Little Brother have arms around one another. His brother eats ice cream. Derrick can’t eat any because of the sugar.

“I know siblings are usually competitive,” his mother says. “But Derrick’s not. He’s proud of his brother. He always says something like: ‘I wanna be like him when I grow up,’ even though he’s two years older.”

But Derrick knows better than anyone else what he will and won’t be when he grows up. So, he keeps painting and making sketches.

There is a drawing on her phone. A smiling face. It’s an impressive portrait in colored pencil.

“That’s one of himself,” she says. “It took him half a day.”

The word stunning doesn’t cover it.

“You know,” she says. “You think you’re gonna be this wise old parent, and teach your kids all kinds of stuff. But it’s him who’s teaching us. He’s a good kid.”

He’s more than that.

He’s what I want to be when I grow up.

Thanks for the peanuts.

14 comments

  1. Joann Wilson - June 20, 2017 12:57 pm

    As always, tears. Awesome people in this world as are those who write about them and give them credit.

    Reply
  2. Jill Shaver - June 20, 2017 1:02 pm

    Wonderful heart warming story.

    Reply
  3. Jack Quanstrum - June 20, 2017 1:16 pm

    Your story touched my heart Sean. We all should be like Derrick all the time. But I know that’s not realistic, but it’s something we can aspire to be! A perfect example of real authentic love. By the way, my almost six grandson teaches me everytime I spend time with him. And I am better for it. Mostly about being humble. Thank you Sean for writing a story that inspires me to be a better person. Keep them coming!

    Reply
  4. Sam Hunneman - June 20, 2017 2:02 pm

    Brilliant on many counts.

    Reply
  5. David McIntosh - June 20, 2017 2:21 pm

    Sean,
    I have been reading your blog for a while now due to a friend introducing me. I just wanted to say you are a wise man. I am somewhat older than you and have come to realize that wisdom is as much knowing when you do not have the answer but listening with a compassionate heart as anything. However, you do have the right answers much more often than you would say you do. Casting a bright light into a world that is often dark can be an answer unto itself. Keep doing what you are doing for I am sure you are giving hope to more people than you realize.
    David

    Reply
  6. Sandi - June 20, 2017 3:22 pm

    Sean, your heartwarming stories are soul soothing and spirit lifting.

    Reply
  7. Frank Gatyas - June 20, 2017 4:09 pm

    I’m getting to be an old man. I read. A lot. I’ve always read. A lot. So over an “almost old man” lifetime that’s a lot of reading. A lot of authors.
    There is nobody else who can touch you, Sean.
    Your writing is simple yet superb, sublime, substantial. Southern.
    If I were but half as good at what I do for a living as you, I’d go to my final rest with a big, contented smile.

    Reply
  8. Carroll Wills - June 20, 2017 5:40 pm

    Love your stories of real life happenings that always bring tears and/or laughter to my heart and wisdom to my growing older mind.

    Reply
  9. Laura Young - June 20, 2017 5:58 pm

    I grew up with brothers who were competitive until one was diagnosed with diabetes at age 12. John felt defeated a lot of the time after that. He was able to play baseball (no asthma) but his condition made him feel so different and he rebelled in many ways. He would sneak candy he wasn’t supposed to have, then lie about his urine sugar level (in those days people didn’t check blood sugar levels at home). He ended up hospitalized with diabetic ketoacidosis fro high blood sugar over and over. I became a nurse and would try to educate him, then tried to scare him into compliance but he had become a teenager bent on controlling his own life. I had a physician friend who became John’s doctor during one of the episodes. I asked the doctor friend to do something to help John and he went to talk with him (refused to let me be there which made me really mad). I still do not know what the doc said to John but he never again required hospitalization for his diabetic condition. He no longer was in such rebellion about his disease. His anger at his condition changed. Unfortunately a very few short years later he died in a drowning accident trying to save the life of our younger brother. Life doesn’t always seem fair, does it? Yet, out of problems can come good – laying down your life is as good as it gets.

    Reply
    • Jack Quanstrum - June 20, 2017 6:12 pm

      Agree with you perspective on life! Good story, hit home for me. I had a younger brother who never ate sweets no meat and only fruits, vegatables and chicken. In perfect health all his life. He died with in six weeks of being diagnosed with brain cancer. I haven’t always eaten right and I am still alive. Go figure.

      Reply
  10. Laura Fryburg - June 20, 2017 6:23 pm

    Thank you!!!! Everyday you make me think. Everyday you make me feel. I think that makes me a better human being.

    Reply
  11. Margaret Parker - June 21, 2017 2:29 am

    I always enjoy your posts!

    Reply
  12. Mary Bond - June 21, 2017 1:39 pm

    it’s already been stated: that’s what I wanna be when I grow up!!
    (I’m 80 yrs. old but still working on this goal)

    Reply
  13. Susan in Georgia - June 22, 2017 3:17 am

    Man….now I want to buy bags and bags of $6 peanuts to support Derrick’s efforts at raising money for other kids. This 12 yr. old is a true treasure. God bless him AND you, Sean, for observing then sharing the good in all sorts of situations through your writing.

    Reply

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