Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Candle Power

In the Kenny Sextet of Siblings, there is space enough between the first-born and the final-born that the latter was in kindergarten the same year as the former graduated from college.  For years, Mom used to tell people she and dad had six children using the Catholic Church's recommended method of birth control.  Then she would laugh a little - I think at least in part at just how much havoc the two of them might have unleashed on the world had they liked each other just a little bit more.  Under that scenario, they might have had a dozen children.  

They did not.  Rather, they stopped at six.  I have spent almost a half-century now as our group's tail-gunner.  My brother Bill has spent even more time than that as our group's trailblazer, an achievement we recognize today in the celebration of his birthday.  

I am forever in Bill's debt.  No matter that I could never know all that he endured dealing with the full-fledged fury that was WPK, Sr. at the height of all of his "powers", not having experienced it myself, Bill never shied away from teaching me and from pushing me to learn. As a little boy,  I was a big-headed, phenobarbital-chugging epileptic who was far more likely to trip and fall at some point between here and the end of this sentence than I was to be picked anything other than last on any team, in any sport, in any gym class.  

Bill recognized that in spite of my spectacular physical limitations - and they were quite spectacular (nothing clears a hot lunch line quite as fast as a grand mal seizure) - I had the capability of digesting copious amounts of information, usually information intended for those considerably older than I. He taught me how to read before I reached my second birthday.  While he was an undergraduate, he made the Rutgers Library my safe place - a place where my mind guided me and where my body could not betray me.  I spent countless hours there with him and cherished it.  I still smile at the memory of the time spent there. 

Happy Birthday, Bill.  May it be more than for which you wished and everything that you deserve.  

And thanks.  Almost five decades after you first showed me their power and their promise, between the pages of a book remains my favorite, safest place.  


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