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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Little Brother

     My favorite breakfast is raw bacon.
     Well, let me re-state that.  My favorite breakfast story involves raw moderately raw bacon.  Several years ago, when I was still in law school, my little brother was stricken with the thought that he and I needed to take our father on a camping trip.  To put this idea into context, the closest the three of us had been to camping together was that night in 1982 when Dad locked himself out of the house and the three of us thought we were going to have to sleep outside until Mom showed up to save the day.
     Having some camping experience in my background, but having had even more experience with travelling with my father, my brother and I agreed that regardless of what happened, we were leaving for out trip no later than 2:00 pm, so that we had plenty of time to arrive at our destination and still have daylight to set up camp.  At 6:00 pm, we were still standing in the middle of Academy Sporting Goods while Dad tried to decide between the all-inclusive titanium mess kit with a built in space-age one size fits all spork, or whether he was going with the jewel-encrusted flatware set that had been carried to the summit of Mt. Everest just after returning from a mission on the space shuttle.  I think he also bought a package of socks for the weekend.  By 9:00 pm that night, while we were setting up tents under the glow of headlights and watched as a den of hungry wolves began to circle, I was wondering if this camping trip were such a good idea.
     There are a few less obvious hazards involved in setting up camp so late at night.  For instance, we were unaware at the time that the camp just above us was populated by a family of Baltic origin with little in the way of English skills or camping experience.  We also failed to notice the worn trail between our camp site and theirs.  So, at 3:00 am that morning when the bears showed up at the neighboring camp site to partake in the bags of food that had been left out, the three of us woke up to the the yelling of Russian curse words, banging of pots and retreating bears brushing up against our tent as they ran away on their well-travelled trail that we were sleeping on.  I am pretty sure there was at least one Yeti running with the bears.
     The next morning, while smirking at the mess in the Baltic Hinterlands, we ferried our food stuff out of the car and down to the camp site to make breakfast.  Although we hid this from our respective wives, my brother and I were beauty in motion as we hustled around the campsite preparing breakfast.  We moved like a well-oiled, spatula wielding, breakfast cooking machine.  My father however, is less used to cooking and even more unfamiliar with the ways of the hardy camper.  In my minds eye, breakfast looked like a time-elapsed photo with my brother and I bustling around while dad supervised from his perch at the table.
     In my own haste, I lost track of what my brother was doing.  Before I knew what was going on, he was serving my father a big helping of bacon.  Pasty white, limp and lifeless raw bacon.  He was half way through his first piece before I could stop him.  I flung the jewel encrusted flatware, pots, pans, condiments and raw bacon aside in a gallant effort to save my father the ravages of raw bacon and took over the bacon duty before my brother could infect us all with Mad Pig disease, or some such ailment.
     I tell that story every time the family gets together, especially on camp outs.  It is my favorite breakfast story.  (In protest, Dad still claims the bacon was just fine and tasted great.)
     My little brother took his own life last February.  Today would have been his 38th birthday.  Go out of the way to eat breakfast with your loved ones, the next breakfast is never guaranteed.  For good measure, go ahead and cook the bacon a few minutes longer...


  1. Great story Lee. Your humor and wit are a pleasure to enjoy. Thank you for sharing and inspiring me.