My brother Bill

Everyone Needs a Big Brother

I had a big brother. His name was Bill. He is gone now, but when he was alive, he was a great big brother. As a little girl and as a grown woman, I always knew he was there for me.

Everyone needs a protector
Everyone needs someone who is there for them, no matter what.
Someone who thinks you are okay, just as you are.
Someone who will defend you against attackers
Someone you can rely on when you are in trouble

When I needed a loan to get a second mortgage on my first home, it was my big brother Bill who loaned me the money. He set up a payment system at the bank where I could pay him back monthly. If it hadn’t been for him, I would never have been able to afford my first home.

When I was working on my Ph.D. in Boston in the late ’60s. I had two major diversions. Staring at my tropical fish aquarium or playing the guitar. I discovered that there was a classical guitar course on PBS, so, of course, I called Bill to tell him about it. Then we would discuss the classes. Later, he went to one of the community colleges in Prescott, Arizona, where he took a college class on classical guitar.

Bill loved music. His greatest sadness was that he did not have a voice. He simply could not sing a tune. His voice would go up or down according to the music, but he never quite hit the right note. That didn’t prevent him from taking his guitar to his sixth-grade classes and playing and singing with them.

When I was living on the Pyramid Lake Paiute reservation, doing the research for my doctoral dissertation, I took a course at the University of Nevada at Reno on how to take photographs and develop them. Since I was on a limited budget, as all students are, it was a great place where I could develop the pictures I took on the reservation.
This class sparked me into buying my equipment and setting up a darkroom in my new home.

Who was it that helped me buy the equipment? My brother Bill. In fact, he would add to my equipment with his Christmas presents.

When I had finished my research on the reservation, I went home to write my dissertation supported by my mother and my brother, Bill. They did not ask for rent or even grocery money.

Then, as we got older and lived further apart, we would email or call each other. Mostly, I called him.

When my textbooks produced royalties, who did I call for advice on stocks and bonds? My brother, Bill. Although I had a friend who worked for Morgan Stanley, the stockbrokers, and she kept trying to convince me to buy stocks, I could not understand her jargon. Bill was always jargon-free.

Who was the first person I called on 9/11 to watch the news? My brother Bill. He hadn’t watched the news, and we watched it together. Me in Canada, he in Arizona.

When the Harry Potter series came out, who did I talk to? My brother Bill. He was also reading the books. After reading the Half-Blood Prince, I called Bill to talk about Dumbledore’s death.
“How can he die?” I asked. “He can’t die! He will probably come back in the next book.”
Bill disagreed. “He died. Get over it. He will not be coming back.”

Although Bill and I were both readers, we read different genres. He read science fiction and cowboy. I avoided them. I read mysteries and historical fiction.
He introduced me to Mary McAffrey and her Pern series, which I enjoy very much. That morphed into reading the Sister Fidelma series by Peter Tremayne, set in 7th century Ireland.

We both enjoyed Tony Hillerman and J. A. Jance.

Bill wasn’t much of a talker. He was a superb listener.

We both loved dogs, and when I had my first litter of German Shepherd puppies, I gave him a puppy.

Bill was interested in many things. He was a trained geologist and naturalist. He was an outdoorsman. He went hunting for deer, fished in lakes and rivers. Flew both motorized and non-motorized aircraft. He was an auxiliary for the sheriff’s office and tried to locate survivors in downed airplanes and crisscrossed the river with the Coastguard. He taught me to do deep-sea fishing and bought me my first tackle.

He was a docent at three museums in Prescott, Arizona, was the Park Ranger at Knotts Berry Farm in California, and served as a park guide in Prescott. They featured him in a television special about Prescott which was picked up by Walmart and put into one of their ads.

Even after he retired, he kept up with most of his hobbies and, as his health worsened, subscribed to many magazines that reflected his interests.

In all of this, he remained my mentor. I respected his judgment and opinions. We shared memories and our failings.

He was a great big brother, and I still miss him.

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