A special memory of my brother who died from leukemia when he was twelve years old.
By Donna Lowich
"Help, Jimmy, help!" I cried out to my older brother. It was 1959; I was eight and he was ten. I had recently mastered the art of riding a two-wheeler so we had decided to cross the street to ride around the high school parking lot where there was room for me to maneuver the bicycle without any traffic. It was a Saturday, and it was right across the street, so it was ideal, or at least, that was the plan.
We spent some time riding around the school. Jimmy helped me practice braking and turning in the large parking lots. After an hour of practice, tired and ready to go home, we rode from the back parking lot and around to the side. Jimmy was in the lead, with me pedaling to keep up with him.
As we rode in front of the building, heading for the exit driveway to cross the street, I braked because I was going too fast. My pants got caught in the gears of the bike, and down I went, right onto the curb and sidewalk. Jimmy was just ahead but had started to cross the street. He heard me calling, and turned around to look. He saw me, dropped his bike where it was and dashed across the street without even looking out for himself.
Jimmy helped untangle my pants from the bike. "Are you okay?"
"Yes, I think so." I stood up, wiping the tears from my face. He helped brush off my clothes. My pants were torn a little and had smudges of oil on them. I scraped an elbow, but other than that, there were no outward signs of a fall.
"Come on, let's get home. I'll take your bike."
He picked up my bike, and held my hand as we crossed the sometimes-busy street to go home.
That was the essence of Jimmy. He was always helping everyone around him, always kind and always gentle. Other brothers may have taken the opportunity to tease or make fun of a little sister not being able to stay on a bicycle. But, that was just not his nature.
We lost Jimmy two years later to leukemia. It took the birth of my own son twenty years later, to truly reconcile that fact. As a first step, I gave Jimmy's name as my son's middle and baptismal names.
I think of Jimmy every day and every day that bicycle incident comes to mind. Not because it is the only incident where he helped me, but because it stands out as a classic portrayal of Jimmy. It stands out in my mind because it highlights his kindness and innate goodness.
Jimmy was taken from us much too soon. He would have made a difference in this world. He did in the twelve years he was here with us.