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My Bro, "The Olympic Medalist"

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Before I begin this saga, it is worth reviewing a little history of my family, and especially that of my brother.

First, I'm 72 years old and my brother is 66. When he was younger he was a fine athlete, excelling in baseball, basketball, and golf. Our dad was a coach (primarily swimming and tennis), so both of us took sports very seriously -- and so did our bodies as we aged.

My brother had bad varicose veins, in his legs, starting when he was in high school. In his 30's he had these surgically removed because they were so painful. Later, he had trouble with bunions (feet). I, too, was afflicted with the latter, and had a bunionectomy on my left foot, in my late thirties. All went well for me.

As I have mentioned before, my brother has also had torn rotator cuffs in both shoulders and has had these surgically repaired. (I've had the right shoulder done, and am still in need of surgery on the left shoulder.)

As with me (my dad, and most of my uncles on my father's side), my brother also had back problems (stenosis and scoliosis) which have gotten progressively worse, across time.

As my brother aged, he took more of his time investment out of participation in sports and more into coaching. He coached his sons and daughter in soccer, baseball, and basketball. He also coached two girls AAU girls basketball teams (16 years and under) to the national championship -- one winning, and one coming in second.

Most recently (5-7 years, ago?), my brother finally had surgery on his foot for the bunion. It did not go well and he has been somewhat lame and in pain ever since. In the interval he's had two more surgeries on the foot, and things have gotten progressively worse.

As have I, he put more of his personal fitness time into the water, first swimming, and then as his back and foot got worse, water aerobics. In the water aerobics class, he was one of the very few men. (I've experienced the same "demographics".) He took the classes at the YMCA, and when the instructor (female) moved away from the area, he volunteered to teach the class.

The first day, as the class leader of an all female class, one, very senior, woman asked him (rather indignantly) 'what qualified him to teach such a class?' (BTW, the second I heard the question, I started laughing, because I knew what was coming.)

Said he (sarcastically), "I'm the only man in the history of the Olympics to win a medal in synchronized swimming, but since it was only a Silver, I could understand why you might be skeptical of my qualifications."
He's still leading the water aerobics class.

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