Sunday was a good day.
On Sunday the Brewer Six, noted in the photo, spent the day together reminiscing about our childhood and about all of the happenings of all of the times in-between linking us to this day. It was a day of laughter and stories – reliving the strength of childhood love.
Of course, memories must be filled with stories of shenanigans – many centering on Ronnie, the quietest of us all, but also the one that always smiled and with a twinkle in his eyes, would instigate pranks. Hysterical laughter erupted to the extent that Ronnie began to cough the deep cough that made all of us pause…waiting.
Someone reminded Ronnie of the time, when he was about five years old when I dressed him and our younger brother up in our mother’s clothes, complete with her hats, the fishnet veils shading their sweet baby faces and the dangling clip-on pearl earrings providing the finishing touches for their unusual, but stylish appearance. Dad stopped what he was doing and took a picture that resides in some dark and secret place today, both brothers only shrugging when asked to disclose its location.
Ronnie, along with our youngest brother and our cousin of about the same age, referred to as the three musketeers, would have great adventures. By adventures, keep in mind we lived in the country which consisted of woods, fields and streams. One day, no one remembers why, they locked Ronnie in the barn. Ronnie was so mad they were afraid to let him out so they left him there all day until Dad came home from work and found him. Ronnie said, “I’m going to find them and beat them up!” Dad, not knowing that Ronnie had been there all day said, “No you are not. Not get in the house.” Again, laughter erupted as he explained how Dad usually knew what they had been up to.
Our grandfather was a farmer who grew vegetables that my grandmother would put up for the winter. He would then sell the surplus vegetables along with the cotton that us kids sometimes got to help pick. The corn went to the grist mill for cornmeal and animal feed. Ronnie flourished in this farm life, staying with them whenever he could. He helped with chores, fishing in the pond at lunch and after the work was done for the day. He so loved it and would stay as long as he could until Dad would go get him, saying, “He’s got to come home sometime.”
Our cat, Tom, was allowed to stay in the house during the day, but at night was put outside to do whatever country tom cats do. Dad didn’t allow pets in the house, saying six kids were enough. One night the temperature dropped to below freezing and Ronnie smuggled Tom into the bedroom that he shared with our brothers, saying nothing to anyone for fear of Dad discovering what he had done. Sometime during the night, our youngest brother was awakened by something furry with big eyes standing on him and he began to scream, “Monster, Monster!!” Ronnie got in trouble of course, but he laughed the hardest, saying, “It was worth it.”
Ronnie’s teenage years continued his quiet delight of being a middle child. He and our younger brother would come home after school and prepare a little snack – usually one or two T-bone steaks to hold them over until dinner. Mother would shake her head and say, “Just can’t fill those boys up.”
So, on this remarkable Sunday in December, all six of us were together, clinging to what made us a family. Now, in our fifties and sixties, we allowed the years to drop away going back to a time when we only had each other for today was just such a day. Times we are thankful for; memories we will always treasure. Sunday was a good day.
As we left, Ronnie, from his bed in the hospice unit at the hospital, gave us each a hug and kiss saying “I’ll see you here….or somewhere,” his eyes twinkling, his smile warm. “Text me when you get home,” he said to me, always concerned knowing mine was a solitary four hour drive.
Monday was a sad day. A day we knew was coming. Nevertheless, a day we wanted to deny. Ronnie’s month in the hospital ended when the unknown disease that had weakened his lungs, took his life, and our six became five.
Ronnie was a good man. He worked hard, and was always cheerful and concerned about everyone else. He told his pastor who visited him last, “I’m ready to go. I want to go. But I don’t want to make my family sad.” This simple sentiment gives us comfort because we know Ronnie felt loved and even more important to him, to give us the love he knew we would need.
Life certainly will end for each of us at some point. It’s important to give and receive love while you can and with all that you have by your words, deeds and actions – for these are the stuff of memories worthy of joyful sharing. This is the best gift to those left behind; know it will bring comfort.
We will miss you Ronnie and will certainly see you “somewhere” in heaven – and that will be a good day.
In honor of Ronald D. Brewer 1956 – 2015
special thanks to Bill Brewer for his inspirational quote, “Sunday was a good day. Today is a bad day.” at the passing of Ronnie.