|TOM'S KNEE: That's me sitting on it. It would also be|
a great name for a bar.
I love Tom a lot. Alex and Judy, too, but this is about Tom, because I'm very old fashioned and think it's good to love the person you sleep with and God knows I spent a lot of years in bed with Tom.
Historical fact? We grew up in a three-bedroom house. My parents had a room to themselves; one of the others was for the girls and Tom, Alex, Ed and I slept in the boys' room. (My eldest brother Pat had moved out of the family home by the time I was old enough to remember anything.)
And in that boys' room was a set of bunks and a twin bed. Alex and Eddie got the bunkbeds so I, the smallest, shared the twin with Tom who was the biggest.
And this is just eerie: For some reason, I will never forget a poem I learned back then and it went like this:
When my brother Tommy
Sleeps in bed with me.
He curls up
Interesting thing about sharing a bed with Tom was, by the time I started grade one at St. Albert's Separate School, Tom had put formal education on hiatus and was out in the working world and didn't keep the same hours as the three youngest boys. He was gone when I awoke each morning and seldom home when I went to sleep.
Which brings me to my late brother Ed.
He's not dead, btw; Ed's just more comfortable than I am with being, like, you know, not precisely on time for some stuff.
For that, I blame my mom. Here's why:
When we were little, on every school morning that I can remember, my mother Huena would get us three Carter boys out of bed with a variation of the following.
From the bottom of the stairs that went up to our bedroom on the second floor, Huena called, "Alex Eddie and Peter get up for school!"
|CARTER BOYS DOING WHAT THEY DO BEST: Laying around|
If it were a special saint's feast day, she had more ammunition. "It's the feast of St. Blaise. You have to go to Mass to get your throats blessed! Get up!"
Five minutes later. "Alex Eddie and Peter get up for school! Don't make me call your father!"
By this time of day our dad Tom Sr. had put in a few hours' work at the bus garage down the street from our house. No way was he was going to traipse home to scare us into getting up, but if you think reality was going to stop her, you've never met Huena.
Every so often she'd go so far as to loudly dial the telephone and be like, "Tom? It's never been this bad. The boys won't listen to me. Would you please come home from the garage?"
In fact Huena never phoned, and EVEN IF SHE HAD, my dad wasn't scary. My parents didn't believe in corporal or for that matter any kind of punishment, another reality ignored at that moment by Huena. Believe it or not, she even on occasion faked the front door slamming as if Dad had arrived. I'm not making up a word of this.
Here's the thing.
What happened next always always always unfolded in the same fashion.
Me being the youngest and suckiest would eventually roll out of bed and into the bathroom (we only had one) first, allowing Alex and Eddie a few more precious moments under the covers. And then, as if we'd rehearsed, after I'd come out of the bathroom, Alex would relent, allowing Eddie to log more mattress time. I'm quite certain we always arose in the same order.
I think Ed owes me and Alex something. I'm not sure what.
I'm also not sure why I started telling you this story. Or if my sisters gave Mom a hard time in the mornings but probably not. All my sisters are as flawless as the Blessed Virgin.
Wait now I remember.
Ed was so good at staying in bed longest that he sometimes showed up at St. Albert's after the bell had rung.
My late brother Ed.