Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 21

Today, March 21st, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Yesterday was my little brother’s birthday.  If he were still alive today, he would have turned 50 years old.  Sitting with my notebook the morning, I took a few minutes break from worrying about the current global pandemic to remember him.  Allow me to recreate a small moment when my brother and I were around 9 and 11 years old.


Working together, we carried the heavy box into our new family room.  With its brightly colored orange shag carpet, this room was going to be perfect.  So big!  Removing the oversized Tinker Toys from the box, my brother and I excitedly initiated construction.  For the next half hour, piece by piece, we built our first soccer goal in the new house.  Over my brother’s shoulder, I gazed out our new downstairs window and watched as the Oregon rain intensified.  Beside me, the Nerf soccer ball awaited quietly.  Definitely a good day for indoor soccer, I thought to myself.

Finally, the goal was completed.  “But wait!” I said. “We need a net, don’t we?”

“Hold on,” my brother said, his face optimistic.  “I’ll ask mom.” Out of the room, down the short hallway, and up the stairs he dashed.  In a few minutes he’d returned, awkwardly carrying an old, mustard-colored bedspread.  “We can use this!” he chirped.

“Perfect,” I said smiling.

Many rainy days were spent in that basement family room playing indoor soccer.  We really didn’t play competitively, but rather acted out improvised games between fictional teams we had invented.  Since we were big Portland Timbers fans in the 1970s and attended many games with my parents, my brother and I created entire rosters of fictional teams and pitted them against one another in our own imaginary and dramatic league.  My mother’s curtains in the basement, I will admit, suffered greatly, as many stray shots on goal found their way toward the plastic hangers.  But the allure of pretend major league soccer games proved too great for my brother and I, so the damage continued on for some time.

The last time I spoke with my brother was February, 1997… 23 years ago.  A car accident took his life that month, but he has lived on in my heart since then.

Happy Birthday to Sean Kelly Ball, born March 20th, 1970.

Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 29 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a former co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting writing teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops,

17 thoughts on “Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 21”

  1. Lost but forever found in your memory. Soothing in these troubled times to look back to a simpler memory. Paula Bourque has been exploring memoir in her blog and I have written some childhood memories in my notebook. It feels soothing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is why I love writing memoir – to go back and be with those loved ones again, for a few moments. When I do, I remember a little more detail – like the color of your “net.” And when I resurface – they still feel close by. How terrible to have lost your brother so young. How you must miss him. Such happiness and warmth emanate from this post, Lanny. In your remembering. Wishing you deep peace this day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was also born in March 1970 so this post hit me in so many ways. I could almost see your mother upstairs quietly shaking her head as she cringed with each bang, choosing to give into laughter because her boys were enjoying each other. So much simplicity and depth in this piece. Thank you for sharing your story and your brother with us today.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The orange shag carpet brought back memories of my own 1970s childhood home. I was also reminded of reading about your brother the last time I participated in the SOL challenge. I am so sorry he was lost so young. I hope you find comfort in your memories of him.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This reminds me so much of my own ‘baby’ brother who was killed when he was 29 and would be 55. The way you set that scene so vividly helped me recall how we built a tent out of a sheet in the backyard and then discovered how tents are supposed to be constructed later that night, as well as several other memories of childhood play. You are a brilliant writer, Lanny. I always take away so much from your slices and today I want to leave you with some love and light on your brother’s birthday. (((love)))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the feedback, Paula…means so much coming from you. I’m sorry to hear you lost a brother, too. Amazing how so many of us have experienced this kind of loss. Peace

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Never let go of your memories. Memories, especially when shared, warm us all. I can see that family room with its shag carpet and the tinker toy soccer goal and the curtains and your mother acquiescing to it all. Wonderful piece of writing, Lanny.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your writing brought me into the room watching you and your brother play! Great memories that keep your brother alive. Wishing you a peaceful day as you remember numerous moments shared with your brother! May his memory be eternal.


  8. Lanny, thank you for introducing me to your beautiful way of storytelling. This memory of your brother is so well-written as it celebrates a close relationship with someone so dear to you. I found my eyes welling as you recounted such fond memories. I am sorry for your loss and I hope you continue to add more memories to your journal. Thank you for sharing that endearing story.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s the wonderful memories that sustain us through losses like this. I’m glad you took the time to pen this one in vivid detail, the joy of childhood imaginative play forever etched on your heart and now shared for generations to come. This will mean more for future generations than just a photo in a scrapbook.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I agree with the other comments. You write with expert precision and your whole heart. This slice is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Your memory conjures up so many of my own memories playing with siblings and breaking things, and for that, I thank you for this seed. May this joyful memory carry you through the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh Lanny. This was so beautiful. I’m sorry for the loss of your brother. Thanks for sharing this. I could picture it all so clearly in my mind. I lost my dad to a motorcycle accident in 1996. I can relate to the unimaginable pain, shock, helplessness and loss.
    – Your Mentor.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for sharing this memory and this moment with your brother with all of us. I’m so sorry for the loss of your brother. Your writing about him is a birthday gift in and of itself. Wishing you peace and many happy memories as you remember him on his birthday.


  13. There is so much love in this post. “Working together, we carried… we built our first… my brother and I excitedly initiated construction.” From the mustard-colored bedspread to the last time you spoke to your brother, your writing is visceral. I can feel the joy in this moment with your brother and the hurt of his absence. It is a brave act of strength to write this beautiful heart-filled birthday wish to your brother, Sean. How priceless it is to have a brother like you who carries priceless memories so vividly. My heart goes out to you, Lanny.

    Liked by 1 person

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