Healthy Living: My Dear Brother Stevey

Healthy Living / Christine Harness

I have written much about growing up with my sisters who filled those early years with joy, learning and love; yet I cannot recall ever writing about my brother’s influences and contributions toward my healthy upbringing. Those memories, too, are so easy to recall, reliving that special brother-sister bond we shared. I was the youngest of 11 children, and Steve was the youngest of five brothers, five years older than me, tall enough and strong enough to provide me with his famous ‘piggy-back rides’ when needed, and with a teasing nature, polished to annoy and challenge our sister, Kay. He was my protector. He was always quick to offer to accompany me with walks to the post office, cleaning chores, and brief training sessions such as the most efficient way to remove those destructive tomato worms. My mother took great pride in her thriving garden, and tomatoes covered a full one-third of her garden space. Steve and I were assigned worm removal, and his tutoring was thorough. He was sure to avoid my developing a distaste or fear of those curious green wriggly things. He carefully taught me that this was the larval stage of a hookworm that fed on the leaves, fruit and the stems of the tomato plants, and they had to go!

It rained a lot in Pennsylvania, and one of our favorite pastimes found us on our rustic old wooden swing suspended from the roof of our front porch of the three-story farmhouse. Lighting shows accompanied many of those downpours. A small marsh across the road from our property brought out a springtime flourish of what we simply called “lightning bugs.” Stevey was quick to inform me not to attempt to collect these tiny diamond substitutes, for they were far too delicate to try to save in a jar (as he once did!) We spent hours, swinging away and singing all of those old favorites such as Clementine, Oh, Susanna, On Top of Old Smokey, along with every country western song high on the weekly popularity chart. He somehow recalled all of the words to those songs, carrying the melody as I provided the harmony. Now and then he treated us by filling in a phrase of two with his harmonica. What fun!
I am certain I gained my love for fishing (and eating fish) from Steve, yet he never took me on those frequent fishing trips he and his buddies took. He did, however, always seek me out as though presenting me with a gift, always looking to me for recognition of that bucket he brought home filled with lake trout and cold water. My mother or sisters were quick to relieve me of the fish cleaning and meal preparing.

Aah! The joys of reminiscing!

Christine Harness has worked in the field of Occupational Therapy throughout her adult life, both in and outside of the Kern River Valley. She has helped countless individuals to maintain or regain their independence. Christine believes that enjoying and taking satisfaction in one’s day-to-day activities is the key to a meaningful life.

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