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Billy and Stealing Rootbeer

Kids in 1969

Billy and Jen, 1969

My brother Billy will have surgery tomorrow at 8 a.m. PDT. His doctor told him there is a 91 percent chance the tumor is renal carcinoma. After numerous tests, it appears that the probable cancer has not spread. This is good news. I will update when I have more information.

Does anybody remember Casey Kasem’s long distance dedication segments during his American Top 40 radio specials? Kasem would read a heartfelt letter from a listener who would name someone to whom they wanted to dedicate a song.

Well, borrowing from that theme, this goes out to Billy, in West Covina.

“When I was in the third grade, my brother Billy bought me THE coolest orange plaid Barbie doll suit. It even had a real-life looking orange button. I never got to go to his swimming hole, but he let me pet the salamanders he brought back, and he always let me watch Isis, Shazam and the New Zoo Review. I’m sure it really sucked having a little sister with one TV in the house.

In fourth grade, he bought me a full length mirror from Wacker’s, his after school job in West Texas. It made me feel VERY grown up. In sixth grade, he let me borrow his, “If-you-lead-a-good-life-say-your-prayers-and-go-to-church,-when-you-die-you-will-go-to-Texas,” T-shirt, which I wore to my first basketball game for the Ozark Hillbillies. I felt very cool and confident wearing it.

When Billy left for the Marines, my mom and dad were very sad. In fact, nothing was ever the same again. They were both sad for a long, long time. They never got over him growing up and moving away, and looking back, I don’t know how they remained so composed during certain times, like when those barracks blew up in Beirut or that fire broke out in the barracks in Japan or when helicopters full of Marines crashed into the sides of mountains. His letters on that Iwo Jima paper were better than ice-cream, Christmas and Shazam. We all missed him so much, and the dinner table was lonely. We’ve never stopped missing him. Even dad, even now.

When Billy was stationed in Okinawa, he sent me an 8-track tape player for either my birthday or Christmas. Along with it he sent two 8-track tapes. One was the soundtrack to Grease, which was my introduction to sex education. The other was Tom T. Hall, which informed me of the only three things in the world that were worth a solitary dime: Old dogs and children and watermelon wine.

I’ve been hoping for 30 years that Billy would come home, which means – live wherever I live. He has been in California most of all these years and I’ve been in Oklahoma for 25. At some point, we all just begin to hope for enough money to SOMEDAY retire and buy a big RV and travel around the country seeing all the people we’ve been missing half our lives. Hopefully, by then, we’ll all still be of sound mind enough to remember each other.

So, tomorrow morning, Billy will have surgery, and when it is over, he will no longer have the left kidney with which he was born. I wonder how much a kidney and it’s big stupid tumor weigh? I pray for complete healing, because I really want that RV and that someday.

So, this is my dedication song to Billy. Thirty years after hearing it play on the 8-track tape player that sailed across the ocean and to our house on Schley, this is my Sully’s favorite lullaby.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Anonymous

    I saw Billy today. He is doing well. They had him up and walking a bit — just a step or two, but it is great. He is still in lot of pain. Thanks for all the prayers.
    Hugs– Mom

  2. JenX67

    @ALL –
    thank you all. it’s been a long week. i’ve been really disoriented. better now, though!!!

  3. Lorrie Veasey

    What a beautiful post. I am keeping you and yours in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. TuTu's Bliss

    Praying for the can can too!! 🙂 Hugs for you and your entire family

  5. miruspeg

    That is a gorgeous photo of you and Billy. I have a similar one of my brother and me.

    My brother is 3 years older than me and like your Billy always loved and took such great care of me, making me dolls dresses and when we were older included me when he went out with his friends.

    So Jen I do know what a special bond you have with Billy and always will.

    You are always on my mind in your hour of need. Please tell Billy about all the people from all over the world praying for him.


  6. Tootie

    That was just beautiful.

  7. Melinda


    I am so sorry to hear of your brother’s tumor and wanted to pass along my best wishes for the best news possible regarding the outcome. My thoughts and prayer are with you and your family at this time. Your post was a great tribute to the love you two share.


    p.s. I also wanted to briefly thank you for passing along the Karen Armstrong video–that was amazing and so mirrors my own beliefs of spirituality and religion.

  8. Jennifer K

    Your brother sounds like a wonderful person. I hope he has a swift recovery. And the picture of the two of you is too cute!

  9. sheila

    Prayers & good vibes are headed to OK & CA from TX. You will all have your ‘someday’.
    He will soon be well!!!

  10. Jenny

    I always wanted a big brother. It sounds like you have a great one. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  11. Le @ third on the right and cold peas

    If all the good vibes from this post fill his hospital room he will be doing the can can again in noooo time – you’re the best little blister a boy could ask for – le xoxo

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