by Scott Boyle
It was nice growing up with someone like you, someone to lean on, someone to count on... someone to tell on!
My older brother Doug passed away two weeks ago. He was only 62. He grew up in Monticello, swam in the tailings pond. He loved Monticello and when he came home to visit, always spent part of his time playing golf with his brothers and looking up old friends and acquaintances.
Doug could be many contradictory things growing up: teacher and tormenter, friend and rival, hero and outlaw, comic and teaser, caretaker and bully, sounding board and critic, tenderish and tough, coach and rival, support and opposition, brother and enemy.
Will you indulge and allow one story about Doug to illustrate?
Basketball ruled in the Boyle household in the 1960s and Doug, being four years older than the next brother, reigned supreme in Boyle Basketball.
Basketball games in the Boyle household always occurred when Mom and Dad weren’t home and took place in the hallway.
Before the invention of Nerf balls and baskets, our baskets were made out of old milk cartons cut in half, the bottom cut out and taped to the top of the doorway frames at each end of the long hallway. Tennis balls made the best basketballs.
Games were played to 100 – first to 100 wins. It was full court, fastbreak basketball at its best.
Doug never, ever, lost a game, although the younger brother would often be ahead something like 96-76 and on the verge of finally beating Doug.
It never happened. Suddenly, Doug became unstoppable and the younger brother became...well...the younger brother. Final score? 100-98, older brother wins.
One such occasion, the younger brother, inevitably losing again, took his frustrations out on the tennis ball-basketball and slammed it into the floor with all his might.
Of course, the ball bounced up with great force, right into the massive light fixture in the middle of the ceiling, shattering the fixture all over the floor.
One large sliver of the fixture hit the younger brother smack dab in the temple, causing an immediate flow of blood in a pulsating manner.
The younger brother thought he had been mortally wounded, screaming and yelling and panicking, while Doug, the older brother, laughed and oohed and aahed about how cool it looked with blood spurting in rhythm to the heartbeat of the freaked-out younger brother.
“I’m going to die!” screeched the younger brother.
“No you’re not,” laughed Doug and calmly reached out his index finger to immediately staunch the flow of blood.
With his finger firmly affixed to the wound, he kindly and thoroughly cleaned up the younger brother’s blood-stained face, scrubbed the clothes and the carpet in a most diligent manner, all the while chuckling behind his hand, ending with the small threat, “Don’t tell Mom.”
The younger brother vowed, “I won’t,” a promise kept until this moment, although what is not remembered is how the suddenly-missing light fixture was explained away.
As life moved forward, the tormentor, rival, outlaw, bully, critic part of our older brother diminished and gradually disappeared, except for the teasing, and the teacher, friend, caretaker, hero role took precedence.
Doug was all of that and more. He was a friend to all, seeking to make connections with everyone he met. He cultivated and cherished those connections, especially with his younger brothers.
If Doug were still here, he might say, as a wise man once said, “Sometimes being an older brother is even better than being a superhero.” He was that to his younger brothers.
There’s no other love like the love for a brother. There’s no other love like the love from a brother.