My brother Henry was the family jewel and we all knew it. He was great at everything and everyone liked him. Even my parents stood in awe. I was nine years younger than Henry. He took me sledding in the winter and would pull me home when I got tired. He took me for my first root-beer float and would bring me swimming when he went with the older boys. He once brought me on a watermelon stealing expedition during which we almost got caught. He wrestled in high school and took second place in the state championships. His team liked him so much; they had a little trophy made that said “To Our State Champ”.
He got drafted during the Vietnam War and served in the honor guard here in the states. After his term of service was up, he went to college in another state and came home one summer with a fiancé. I was twelve. My father had previously purchased our first farm tractor, and on the fourth of July, Henry started and drove a tractor for the first time. He invited me to hop up on it with him and I sat on the fender. This was big. Even my father had never really driven the tractor. We drove around the fields for a while and he crossed the road and tried to climb the bank on the other side. On the first try the tractor balked. On the second try the front end of the tractor got so high that it flipped over backwards. I jumped clear and the tractor landed on him. The steering wheel had gone through his chest and he turned blue. I tried to push the tractor off, but it wouldn’t move. I ran up to the farmhouse and told everyone what had happened. It was my mother, my sister, and Henry’s fiancé. They ran down and pushed the tractor off of him, but it was too late.
Henry got a full military burial and his fiancé’s parents came and took her home. It was never the same for the family after that. There are some people that are that important. I’m an old man now, and still miss him.