When our boys were three and four years old we lived in a small two bedroom house on a farm just north of Arthur, Ontario. With our daughter approaching her first birthday things were a little crowded. All three children were sharing a small bedroom with the crib and a set of bunk beds crowded in together.
Daniel, being the oldest, had been relegated to the top bunk. He had already discovered the hard way that a certain degree of caution was needed when playing or sleeping in his lofty nest. Fortunately for him, his one fall had landed him neatly in the open drawer of the dresser standing next to the bed. Apart from a couple of bruises on the backs of his legs he survived his accident with no lasting harm done.
One day when I was working in another part of the house, Jason, always and forever a climber, decided to join his brother up top. I had no idea he was up there until I heard a scuffle followed by Daniel’s heart wrenching drawn out cry of “He-e-e-l-l-p!!” Panic lent wings to my feet and I made it to the bedroom in record time. There was my three year old, Jason, hanging upside down from the top bunk with his brother stretched out above him grasping his ankles in a desperate attempt to stop his fall. He couldn’t have held him much longer. In fact, I don’t know how he was holding him at all. They were almost the same size after all but Daniel’s face wore a grimace of stubborn determination that I have since come to know well. He just refused to let go. His relief was palpable when I came to the rescue and took the weight from his straining arms.
Jason learned caution on the bunk bed that day but it wasn’t the last time he got himself into a fix with his climbing. Daniel was always the one to go for help whenever his brother got stuck in some impossible situation. We would be sitting peacefully in a campsite somewhere and Daniel would come running. “Dad, you better bring a rope. Jason is on a ledge halfway up a cliff and he can’t get up or down.” Or I would be making supper and Daniel would burst through the door with a shout of “Mom, Jason’s stuck on the roof.” Of course, that’s another story.
Eventually they grew up. None of Jason’s experiences spoiled his love of climbing. He spent five years as a roofer when he was paying for college and now he climbs for sport. Daniel hasn’t had to come to his rescue in years but back when they were boys he was definitely his brother’s keeper. That’s the great thing about brothers. They’re there when you need them.