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Family so important

For The Madera Tribune

The Madera Tribune columnist Tami Jo Nix and her brother Brian Hill at his 2013 wedding. He celebrates his 71st birthday on Nov. 20.


Most people my age have families consisting of their generation, their offspring and even grandchildren. Our nuclear family once consisted of my parents, Ralph and QuoVada “Kirk” Hill, Ralph Jr., aka Rocky, Brian Hill and myself.

These days, everyone but Brian and I are gone. Brian is married to Dee Dee nee Gran and he has two children Bradley Kirk and Brianna Lee from his first marriage. Bradley is named for his grandmother, whose maiden names are Bradley and Kirk. Briana is named for her father with a feminine version of Brian and her mother Marrill’s maiden name Lee.

Siblings aren’t supposed to have favorites, I guess. But I did. Growing up Rocky was more like a parent than a brother. He felt it was his job to watch out for Brian and I. He wasn’t the least bit shy about using corporal punishment either. Brian, on the other hand, was more of a friend.

During the summers, while our parents were working, we played a lot of games. Our favorite were rubber band fights in the house. The boys fashioned rifles with scraps of wood and clothes pins. We would take bicycle innertubes, cut into strips to use for ammunition. Then we would use the living room furniture to make forts. They also made slingshots out of tree branches. The rock fights were staged outside.

It wasn’t until we were adults that our parents learned of the rubberband fights and how we used the living room furniture. We always had it cleaned up and back in place before Daddy arrived home from work. By the time we confessed to it, we were too old to be punished.

I enjoy it when people who fondly remember Rocky tell me what a great person he was. I remember after he attended his final Madera High School Class of 1967 reunion, he raved about how all the girls he went to school with grew into beautiful women.

He spent the final years of his life in an apartment across the street from the Veterans Hospital in Fresno. He served honorably in the Army and spent two tours in Vietnam.

Our family was blessed at this time. Neither brother was in active combat. While Rocky was stationed in Vietnam, Brian served in the Army in Korea. Rocky volunteered for a second tour in Vietnam to ensure his brother would stay in Korea.

When we were kids, my brothers and I lived on a five-acre farm on Martin Street. At that time, it was considered way out in the country. Now, the property is adjacent to an elementary, middle and high school.

Today, Brian will celebrate his 71st birthday. He has lived in the Bay Area since returning from the military and he played football for Cal State Hayward. He briefly returned to Madera one summer and moved away shortly thereafter because of the heat. He forgot that Madera summers are usually in the triple-digits!

Happy Birthday, Brother Brian. May you have a fabulous day.

Long days and pleasant nights, have a blessed weekend.

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Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.



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