Mama told me that I was only two years old when he and Beth married. I can’t remember it even though I have seen their wedding photos over the years and felt like I remembered it. She said I was so young I sat on my Aunt Von’s lap. I’ve already told you enough to make you wonder , and yes, there is a seventeen year age difference between us. He came early in my mother’s life, and I came along late!
My earliest remembrance of him is actually something different. He was in the service and we would write letters to him. I still see the scene at the kitchen table. Mama would sit down to write, and so I wanted to write a letter, too. I would make big loopy-loops on every line of the paper. I wanted to fill the page- probably because that is what I saw Mama do. She would fold them and put them in an envelope. I’ve often wondered if she actually sent them.
L to R- me, Garry , and our sister Kay
(L to R- our cousin, Lamar, me and Garry, Beth, Mama, Kay. If you look in the mirror above us, you can see my daddy. )
My preteen years consisted of following in his and my daddy’s footsteps. On the weekends, if they went anywhere on the farm, I would be with them. I’m sure it was probably somewhat of an inconvenience having a little girl tagging around all the time, but if it was, they never let me know it.
Garry and Beth would come out every Sunday. I would go to the front room of the house and watch for them to come around the corner into view. I don’t think they ever knew this-unless Mama told them. If I sat there watching very long, I would visualize where I thought they might be. It was a mental game of cars. I would inch them along the first corner, then down by the Peterson pond, past Ward Road, down the hill, around the corner….and into my view. I did this as long as it took until they really did appear before my eyes.
These Sundays were family time. Fun for me, work for Mama and Beth. They spent most of it cooking and then cleaning it up. While they did that, we were fixing this or that at the barn, riding and looking for deer tracks, or setting up cans for me to shoot off the fence. He taught me marksmanship at an early age. I eventually graduated to birds and squirrels. He would put the gun against me and talk me through my line of vision in the scope. Getting completely ready with finger on the trigger before turning off the safety. BAM. I LIVED for Sundays. The week long confines of country life would come to newfound life on Sundays. We enjoyed it to the fullest until Mama would tap on the window or stick her head out the screen door to tell us to stop shooting because people were gathering for church. (less than a quarter mile down the road)
Once in the backyard, he and Daddy were working on the well. I was playing on the swingset when a wasp stung me just above my eyelid. I let out a squeal and he came running. Tobacco juice went straight from his mouth to my stung spot. It didn’t sting long.
Another Sunday, he talked me into trying his tobacco. It made him laugh. It made my Mama mad. And it made me not want anything in my mouth for days.
I was only seven when he and Beth had Drew. I had a new playmate.
One Christmas, Mama suddenly needed something from the store. SO, he and Daddy loaded up the two of us- which was a common and popular thing to do- and off to the store we went. We would always get a snack of some kind and sometimes get to ride in the back of the truck. We loved it! Thing is, the store was closed! Imagine that! Well, when we returned, can you guess who had come and gone while we were on our wild goose chase? Yes, we had MISSED Santa. Although we were not gone long, he couldn’t stay and wait for us. He had left our gifts and we heard all about his brief visit. It was a few years later that I learned my brother, Garry, was also an accomplished accomplice.
( Garry and Mama , Christmas mid 1980s)
He had skills. Avid hunter. Marksman. Military veteran. I would learn more about him.
My junior high years were awkward. Like many others, I began to realize my own insecurities. On Sundays, I was free of them. The same kitchen table where we would write letters and eat big Sunday night meals became a work space for the two of us. I was completely overwhelmed with a school project that required mapping the entire town. Every street. Every Church. Every business. Some of you might remember the same project and class. Although I was a young teenager, I went to town on the bus every day. We didn’t take guided tours around town. Occasionally, on a few and far between Saturday, and out of necessity, we might go into town for something. Again, not on a tour bus. Anyway, I saw the project as another unwanted obstacle that would only result in proving I wasn’t up to snuff. Pun intended. It was MY BROTHER GARRY who stepped in and helped me with the daunting task. Over many hours, we drew and measured, tagged and labeled. I carried my completed assignment into that teacher like a boss. We made an A on it, too. I still have a mental picture of that huge posterboard, on that table, tight little lines, key codes, etc.
Once a big ordeal, put in it’s place, by my big brother.
( I think this was my 14th or 15th birthday. I can’t make out the candles on the cake, but it was before I met Jimmy-so I am guesstimating. Me, Garry, the late Ms. Eva Moore, Mama holding my nephew Brent, and Beth. Brent’s size also helps with the guesstimation. )
As I began dating, our relationship changed. He would sometimes embarrass me to death! He would pick and make jokes, as many big brothers must do. When my then boyfriend (now husband) wrecked his truck and had to use his daddy’s older truck, It was my brother, Garry, who would walk us out to it on Sundays, stand at the front end and bend down making large circular motions as if trying to turn a crank handle. He even gave my then boyfriend and now husband a nickname. He would grin ear to ear when using it to refer to my sweetheart. I would just fume in classic teenager style. That gave him motivation while it gave me what is now sweet memories.
At this point in our lives, I like to think that maybe he was a little jealous of the new guy that had taken me away on Sundays.
He soon began to fall for my boyfriend, too. I was glad until he invited him away for a weekend hunting trip with some of his older friends. First of all, I didn’t like him taking my beau away from me for the weekend, but more than that, I didn’t know what on earth my sweetie would be submitted to while gone! And they went to Sapelo Island. There would be no means of escape! Over the years, I’ve heard the stories of that weekend. The conversations that were had. I can’t repeat them. My husband still mentions it from time to time. Fondly, actually. It was a time to be remembered. From the preparatory trip to the grocery store -to the ride home- and EVERYTHING in between. There are details to be remembered. To be honest, I probably have never heard them all. I can’t help but think it was a cross between an initiation of sorts and an attempt at separation. A “Let’s see what you’re made of” trip. I didn’t get to go, but I was the clear winner, for I got to keep them both. My brother Garry was even in our wedding. For our first Christmas after being married , Garry bought us matching shirts. They have a big deer head on them, and it says this: We interrupt this marriage to bring you the hunting season.
Before I was married, I lived with my sister not far from Garry (those details are in a previous post about My sister Kay). She worked at night and I was there alone with her small children. It was late when I thought I heard someone outside the mobile home. I had become anxious. It was my brother, Garry, that I called. He came right over, gun in hand, looked around, reassured me…and left the gun with reminders of how to use it if necessary. He put it on top of the refrigerator and told me to touch it only if I had to. And, I didn’t. Another problem solved.
A couple of weeks before my wedding, Mama and Daddy had to go somewhere overnight. I didn’t want to go, but I didn’t want to stay out in the country alone either. You guessed it, this grownup (or so I thought) girl of eighteen spent the night at her brother’s house.
A few years later when I was expecting Brandon, we would sit in that same old front yard. He would tease me about my condition. Still making me blush even though I was now a married woman. One Sunday afternoon, we were in the yard. He was telling jokes that at one awkward part of my life I had found insufferable, now were the funniest things ever. I laughed so hard that day. He was also making me homemade ice cream. It was an especially good day. I felt good. It was my due date. We were all speculating about my baby to be. Garry had nicknamed him as well, and referred to him as such appointed name throughout my pregnancy. We didn’t know if I was having a boy or girl, but Garry said it didn’t matter. The baby’s name as far as he was concerned was going to be ‘Bucky.’ Sigh.
A few years later, when our mother passed, who stepped up to take care of most things? The Go To Guy, Garry. He helped my Daddy with so many details and guided us all through our unexpected grief. Doing as much as he could, so we wouldn’t have to.
When my daddy passed, ( who In reality was Garry’s step-daddy )who do you think again took the wheel? In fact, he and my daddy loved each other sooooo very much. It is a completely different story that can be told (and I might one day). My daddy made my brother, Garry, executor of his will. And I know why. Garry is a perfectionist. In. Every. Thing. He. Does. My daddy had no need to worry with Garry in charge. In fact, at Daddy’s funeral I was presented the flag because I am the youngest child. I remember making the deliberate decision to give it to Garry. It seemed the most natural thing to do. Both of them veterans, and they loved each other so uniquely. Completely. Not halfway. Not with step titles either.
He is known for many fine things. One of which is his craftmanship. He has built some of the finest homes in Coffee County. I could throw out some really big names, but I won’t. If you ride through the best neighborhoods in town, I could point along the way and tell you that my brother, Garry, built this one, and that one, and so on. I recently photographed a private reception in the home of one of our town’s most influential citizens. Garry built it. While I was honored to be there myself, I kept thinking, ” Wow. He built this.” I really wanted to tell the local, state, and national dignitaries there that my brother Garry built this fine home.
When we were ready to build, we had to go on his wait-list. He has always been in high demand. Years out. People would willingly wait because they knew the quality of his workmanship. I’m so glad that we, too, waited. Our house was the last he built from start to finish. He now chooses smaller jobs and works at his leisure. He will never be one to RETIRE completely.
A couple of years ago, he came and closed in my screen porch. The one he kept telling me while building that I would tire of -and so he built it accordingly, to be closed in later-when I came to my senses…. I would watch him. Still so careful in his measuring, cutting, etc. No guesswork. Just precise and deliberately thought-out craftsmanship. HE is the epitome of meticulous. I enjoyed having him here every day. The visits. The talks. The confidences shared. My granddaughter took a liking to him, too. She had to have a hammer like Uncle Garry. She still likes to use her little toolbox like she thinks he does. I took his picture a few times without him knowing.
When I was much younger, someone asked me how was Garry my brother if he was a Moore and I was a Summerlin. I raced home, a little bit mad, a little bit confused, and a little bit hurt. Mama and Daddy then explained to me that the law would say we were HALF brother and sister. I didn’t like that. Mama quickly told me what to say to people when they asked (and they have many times over the years). “You tell them we don’t call it HALF because we don’t love on HALVES. We love each other ALL THE WAY.” To this day, I despise it when someone says nonchalantly, “Oh, he’s your half brother.” And while I haven’t had to explain in a few years now, I have always given the response of our Mother. ANYONE who knows my brother, Garry, knows he doesn’t do anything halfway.
On the one hand, he is a simple man. He prefers the outdoors and doesn’t need fancy things to be happy. I think my love of nature and now wildlife photography was initiated by him so many years ago. I like it when he tells me where I might see certain critters to photograph. He feeds he birds, turtles, etc on the farm and we have sat together watching for wild ducks to come in…just hoping I can get a good picture. ( one year for Christmas he got me a trophy of a turkey–another private joke.)
On the other hand, he is extremely complex. There is a lot about him that people don’t know. Myself included. He has told me some of his experiences in the military, but I know there are some he might not share. I’ve also wondered about the internal struggle he must have had when our mother and his father both passed within a few months of each other. I’ve never asked him details of their separation so long ago and how it affected him.
Also, he’s the kind of person who does things for others who don’t deserve it. He is generous to a fault.
With all sincerity, I cannot imagine anyone not liking him.
For one of my adult birthdays, he went ALONE in the old Belk store ( where the Atrium is now located) and bought me a nice blouse. On another, he and my sister (unbeknownst to each other) bought me the same identical sweet, sappy birthday card. And , the crystal clear cake plate he bought on yet another still sits on my kitchen counter this very day.
I could go on and on and on and on….
Beth and Garry at Drew’s wedding , June 2018
Another picture that he never knew I took . He loves this tractor, and he loves to garden. I love him. He so graciously shares the fruits of his labor with others.
I don’t know anyone else like him.
On February 15, my brother Garry will be seventy-one years old. If you see him, tell him HAPPY BIRTHDAY.