– He called me Mr. O.
Says Dad on our way to the Shady Creek Cemetery.
I hadn’t been back since Dad used to wear shirts and ties on weekdays and he’d stop to pick some heather from Marty’s grave to wear on his tweed lapel.
Born the same year as my sister, Marty died on July 20th, 1987. He had just graduated from high school. My sister was his date to the prom.
– He came back from it three times and then was dead in three days.
Marty was my favourite sibling as a child. That is if my father’s ex-girlfriend’s children count as siblings. He’d let me on the back of his motorbike when others wouldn’t (with a hockey helmet on my head riding through the trails behind the house) and would spoon cuddle me on the couch while we watched TV.
Dad was more fun when Marty was around too. With Marty in the car, a silent car ride was a game of punch buggy. They knew where all the bugs were parked and I never minded taking the back seat for Marty. When he was old enough, he bought a yellow bug of his own.
At first, Grouchy refused to let Marty ride a motorbike with the rest of the kids but finally agreed that if Marty had a license to drive one he could. Dad had a friend at the DMV make up valid licenses for all the kids. The only fake thing about them was the age of the children and the expiry date. They were issued and expired on the same day. Grouchy must have been grouchy but Marty was allowed to ride the bike.
The last memories I have of Marty are of him swollen with no hair and a ball cap playing a board game called Chug-a-lug on the deep freeze in my Dad’s basement during the Grad Party and the sound of my sister crying into my Dad’s arms at Shady Creek.
Leaving the cemetery, I learned for the first time that Marty had a different father than his sisters.
– He wasn’t mine. No one ever knew who the father was.
Martin Alexander (Alexander after my father), I wouldn’t have minded. Not one bit.