Superman doesn’t have to be invincible

By Gena Anderson |

It was only a few laps into the hobby feature. My brother was in the far right turn of the track and another car’s nose collided into him. The section our family sat in was entirely on their feet trying to see clearly through the dust of the red clay.

In later years, the crowd would grow to love him nearly as much as we did and would rise with us, but this was early in his racing career when we alone were his cheerleaders.

Suddenly the collided nose was underneath the rear end of his car. He banged into a swarm of other cars and the entire field of behemoth metal monsters was underneath him. He was airborne and I was screaming.

“Bro-bro! No!!!! RYAN!”

The whole crowd rose then. The chatter and gasps where so loud, but all I could fathom was my mother’s sobbing as she started to run after her first born, her little boy, the only man she would ever believe in, as if the distance between them was threatening their lives.

I ran after her. From soft green grass beneath my feet to the hard smack of my soles against the wooden blanks ending in the pitter-patter of my feet charging down the concrete after my mom, I couldn’t even feel the difference.

When I caught her I grabbed her. I may have been young, but I’ve always been stronger than her and we stood there right past the flag stand staring in disbelief as Ryan’s car was on its second rotation in the air.

She fought me off, arms flailing, voice cracking as tears poured down her anguished face. But I never let go. We were pressed together, but millions of mental light years apart.

As his car completed its third aerial rotation, my sobbing increased. The boy inside that car was more than my half-sibling. He was my best friend and my idol. Ryan was and will always be the entire center structural point of our very broken three-member family.

I know as my mom watched all she could think about was all of the surgeries he went through as a baby, how sick he was when he was small, and how against him ever getting into a race car she was. Her biggest fear has always been losing him, because she’s come too close for comfort too many times.

A family friend came and took over the responsibility of holding back my mom. My hands were free to clutch the large fence that separated me from my brother while I peered through the linked wires. We stood there wide eyed as his car finished its fifth and final flip and came crashing hard to the ground.

Again another soul-tearing scream erupted from my little mother and her little vocal chords as the sheet metal began crumpling off the frame that held her fragile baby. The car continued to roll and bounce as it banged against the ground.

When I graduated from pre-school, my brother gave me roses. To this day he is the only man who has ever given me flowers.

When I was in Girl Scouts he volunteered to take me to the Father-Daughter Dance because I didn’t have a father. He went through obtaining permission before even telling me. All the other girls were jealous of my date.

And there he was, my invincible Superman, trapped inside his car being thrown around against the aluminum of his seat as his car tumbled.

When his car finally came to a stop the entire stadium was absolutely silent. As the dust was settling and the field of cars stood idol, the EMTs rushed to the car.

When he emerged in one piece I finally caught my breath. I may have been crying harder, but only because I was so happy. The entire audience started cheering and clapping. My mom and I were jumping and shouting out to him even though he was too disoriented to pay us any attention.

The race resumed with his car in the infield while the EMTs checked him out. He was beat up, but OK. I have no idea who won that night. Nor do I even care, because when my brother came back out to the stands to see me he was smiling.

He hugged my very gingerly and kissed the top of my head. That’s how you know my big brother is hurt — when he doesn’t have the energy and strength to put you in a head lock before kissing the top of your head.

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