By DAN WHITTLE
Older siblings tend to hold high ranking in the eyes and hearts of younger brothers and sisters.
When asked to make a talk recently, the subjects of "big brothers" and "big sisters" surfaced as the main theme of discussion.
Following are examples:
"My brother rescued me from a biting dog once," recalled 89-year-old Katherine Moser. "And my older sisters and I were often asked to sing at funerals while we were growing up in Nashville."
"My older brother was a crack-shot with a rifle," chronicled Auburntown native Jerry Gaither in a newspaper interview earlier this year. "Anytime we needed some meat on the dinner table during the Great Depression, we could count on big brother 'Red' to go get a squirrel or two."
"My late older brother, Lou, helped open the door for me to have a news media-related career," shared Lascassas resident Hooper Penuel recently. "I started as a 'stringer' for news when Lou was a photojournalist for TV in Nashville. That led to my having a career in news and as a public information officer (retired) with the Tennessee Air National Guard."
The above triggered memories of my own …
As older bro H. Van Whittle lay dying in a hospital at age 53 with advanced cancer and Crohn's Disease in 1991, I called his favorite nurses to his bedside to share a very memorable moment of our childhood.
"When I was 6-months old, Momma Whittle missed me out of the baby-bed that featured prison-like iron bars to keep me from escaping," I crawled back in time. "That's when Mother looked out our farm-house window, and spied Brother hoofing it down the lane with a dust-laden used soybean sack hoisted over his shoulder.
"Mother shared that it was me, raising hell in that filthy burlap bag, after Brother had agreed to swap his newborn baby bro for a farm neighbor's Shetland pony," I related.
"Brother," I shared with the nurses, "didn't hold out for a full-growed horse…he settled for that farmer's midget horse."
That was my last living image of Brother as he shared laughter with his nurses.
Sister June has never liked the "older sister" title, but with her deliciously-wicked sense of humor she got after our father, she agreed with me giving her the "spring time cotton patch hoe-er" title in a book I've authored that is scheduled for publication later this summer.
Now don't get your judgmental under-garments in a wad, for most farm folks who grew up chopping and picking cotton understand that a "cotton patch hoe-er" (one who chops weeds out of cotton) is not to be confused with professional ladies of the night who market certain services.
While in high school, Sister dated an older "beau" who had been in the Air Force stationed in England.
"Have you ever been out of the country?" I overheard "beau" asking Sister while they chatted beneath our farm front yard's hickory tree.
To which, Sister replied with pride: "Oh yes, I've been out of the country….we went up to St. Louis last year to see a Cardinals' baseball game."
She didn't want that bragging world-travelled boyfriend to think we were country bumpkins who had never left our remote farm.