by Roderick T. Beaman
My oldest brother, Thomas, was an engineer and was selected for Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society. I had a brother who was three or four years younger but he died at the age of four of spinal meningitis. It was a fulminant case and took him in just 24 hours.
My next brother, Richard, also received an engineering degree, later went to law school and entered the bar. My next brother, John, fell out of a third story window, also around the age of four, fractured his skull and was nearly killed. He wound up brain damaged with a variable IQ that could fall into the retarded range and had poor motor co-ordination. I was the youngest of my family and became a physician. Our sister was about four years younger than John and eight older than I.
Growing up was painful for me, to a large degree due to him, we called him Jack; Thomas, Tom and Richard, Dick. Jack was eleven years older than I and I saw him struggling to play softball and the other games the neighborhood kids played in the heart of Manhattan. Children can be cruel, both intentionally and unintentionally. He was often ridiculed and called names, those were some of the intentional things but the unintentional may have hurt more. He was often told to get our sister to play because ’she plays better than you do.’ It was hard seeing that.
As I grew up, it wasn’t too long before I was outperforming him in every game; softball, stickball, football, basketball, etc., all the staples of city life but Jack never complained or displayed any resentment of it nor for my academic achievements that quickly outstripped his.