My best friend. My worst enemy. My brother.

Real Estate Agent with Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) DRE# 00809499

Joe and Sally walking to school together

His name was Joe.  He was my chief antagonist, and later my best friend. He was my brother.

Joe was my hero early on.  He could find rubies in the sand like no other.  I still see his little brown back scorching in the hot Tuscon sun, hunched over his knees as he poked through the sand, tweezing out little "gems".  They may have been broken beer bottles, I really don't know, but we were going to get rich off our rubies.

He taught me to play marbles.  We drew circles in the sand in front of our "mud hut"... now they call them classic "Adobes". He could finger-flick like no other, knocking my marbles out of the circle to capture them.  I had the most beautiful shooter. He coveted it, but could never win it from me. 

Pete, Joe & SallyOne night I let him look at it.  I stood over him as he lie on the floor peering through his glasses at my wonderous green-swirled shooter. "I'm keeping it", he ninner-nannered.  "You are NOT.  GIVE it to me.... GIVE IT TO ME.... or I'll TELL...."  With that, I wound up and slung my little 6 year old arm at him, letting loose my other shooter.

All Hell broke loose.... panic, mayhem, blood, shattered glasses, crying, screams, phone calls, strangers.  Mom is in hysterics.  Joe had recently had surgery on his eye. I think I killed him.

I hide under the bed as the doctor arrives, terrified at what I have done. "How did this happen???? I hope you beat that little girl".  I still remember the doctor's words searing into my heart.  But, heck.  It WAS my best shooter.

He survived.  It was only a surface cut - and miraculously no damage was done to his eyes.  He gave me back my shooter.

Dancing with my brother, JoeIn grade school he pestered me to no end, like the time he put salt in the lemonaide for my birthday party.  Brat.  In High School, I had to walk about 6 blocks to my bus.  In the snow.  Uphill both ways. Oh wait... it was Sacramento.  Well, in the rain anyway. OK... and it was flat.  Shut up... or I'll tell......  Anyway. Joe drove to school with his friend, Bobby.  Right past me. Every day.  114 degrees??? "Hot enough for ya??? ...hahaha...." Zoommmmm.  Pouring rain?  "Hey, ya look like a drowned rat.... ha,ha,ha...." zoooommmmm. Jerks.

My brother JoeBobby and Joe took me to the drive in once.  I couldn't believe it.  I had made the inner circle. They probably made me pay. 'ts OK.  Waiting for the movie to start, Joe grabs my purse and tosses my wallet out the window. I climb out to retrieve it.  Click. The doors are locked. The window cranks down a few inches.  Just enough for the entire drive-in  to hear "Get away from us... we don't buy that kind of stuff here, Lady.  You should be arrested.  That's disgusting.  Leave us alone."  Yeah... did I fail to mention what comedians they were? I don't think I went to the drive in with them again, inner circle or not. Bozo's.

Things changed when we moved to Santa Barbara my Senior year.  Neither of us had friends in this new city so we turned to each other.  We got into the lore of vampires, the teachings of the Mahareshi, love beads, paisley, the Moody Blues, and grasscloth wallpaper.  We found out we liked each other. He was actually pretty cool, once he gave up pestering me.

By the time I turned 21 and could get into bars, we had learned to dance together.  At 6'6" he was a perfect compliment to my 5'10".... we could really cut a rug.  Our favorite joint was FUBAR's in Goleta.  Friday nights we would park his little bug in the parking lot, with a jug of cheap wine, usually Ripple. Yech.  We'ld dance night away, sneaking to the car to drink our cheap rotgut.  The funny part was how I helped him troll for girls.  Strangest thing, but we were pretty striking, both being so tall, and being such good dancers. Girls noticed him, but he appeared taken.  He could safely make eyes with cuties (girls always like a taken guy), then approach them from a position of safety.  "Aw, she's just my sister..."  Worked every time. He felt I was good bait.

Then I married one of his best friends. I moved away from Santa Barbara, back to Sacramento.  It killed me to leave him, but love called. He came to visit us a ton - a double header getting to see TWO best friends at one time.  We had our first kids within 2 months of each other.  He had the only video camera, so all my kid's videos were when we were together with his son.

8 years later we're at Disneyland. It's Thanksgiving day. Joe keeps searching for a payphone to call his doctor to find out the results of a biopsy he'ld just had.  He had been wrestling on the floor with his son, and had an intense pain in his rib.

It was cancer.  Turned out the tumor grew so fast it cracked his rib.

A year and a half later he was gone. The saddest moment, the saddest event, saddest loss of my life.  My Sweet Joe.  Our Baby Joe. He was 46.


As I have raised my girls, whenever they fought, I would threaten to tie them together until they became friends. I would tell them that I couldn't make them like each other, but I would not let them say mean things to each other.  That they would remember the hurtful things they said into adulthood.  And that one day, if they were lucky... if they were VERY lucky... they would become best friends. I would tell them how lucky I was to finally discover that about the most amazing person in my life.  And that I would give anyting to not have WASTED the 18 years I lived under the same roof with him.

It didn't happen right away.  They fought.  But by Jr High things started to change. By High School it was diffferent.  And now they are best friends.  They love each other.  They even dance together.


Posted by


Your Fair Oaks Realtor for homes for sale in Fair Oaks and the Sacramento Area of California.... I'm your gal (Sally Dunbar). I'm occasionally knowledgable, periodically humorous, and always willing to tell you everything I know.  What more could you ask for?

Here are the newest listings for Fair Oaks, Orangevale, Citrus Heights, Folsom, Carmichael, Gold River, and Roseville - all CA, of course.

More Blog posts by Sally Dunbar at www.FairOaksHomesAndMore.comSally's Website at to search for all homes in the MLS, and for tons of information for buyers and sellers.  You'll find schools information, market statistics... you name it, I got it!  Come visit me.




Sally Dunbar, 35 year Broker Associate, Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks, CA (916) 524-1548, "Your Fair Oaks Realtor"


This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
ActiveRain Community
POSITIVE ATTITUDE for the Weary Soul
Dedicated Bloggers
Family Ties
Club Chaos
Diary of a Realtor
losing a brother
losing a best friend

Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC
Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC - Rockledge, FL
... a small office, delivering big service!

Very nice story about a special relationship. We have few and should cherish each minute.

Aug 20, 2009 06:40 AM #69
Bill Blair
Coldwell Banker Realty - Covington, GA
Covington Georgia Realtor Covington Living Homes

Sally... a beautiful, bitter-sweet story.  How little we realize all our special moments and relationships when they happen, and often, even afterwards.  But you did a special job of remembering.  Congratulations!

Aug 20, 2009 07:59 AM #70
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

I became so much closer to my brother and sister last year as I struggled through cancer treatment. I am one of the lucky ones who is still here and I can now pester them and get away with it. I am the youngest so usually pestering flows down hill. My perstering is very gentle, as is their relationship with me.  Every day is filled with gratitude and mutual love as you described. it seems to me that in your story and in your mind, he is still alive becassue that is the way you want it.

Aug 20, 2009 10:13 AM #71
Paula Swayne
Dunnigan, Realtors, Sacramento (916) 425-9715 - Sacramento, CA
Realtor-Land Park, East Sac & Curtis Park -Dunniga

Hi Sally! got me. A big lump in my throat...oh, my.  It sounds like you had that typical love/hate relationship brothers and sisters have.  I am so sorry it was cut so short.  He sounds like so much fun!

Aug 20, 2009 12:32 PM #72
Charlotte Lloyd
Stage Right! Home Stagers of Texas - Rockwall, TX

What a wonderful story.  Thank you for sharing!  You made me cry as well.  I have 8 brothers and sisters and love every single one of them dearly.

Aug 20, 2009 04:46 PM #73
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Patrick - I dont know where I lived... I was only 6.  I know we were near Speedway, and near a big cactus that I poked my self on regularly, and on the edge of the desert where horned toads were all over.... just waiting for me to catch them and make them spit blood. does that help?

Carol - How nice that his daughters could write their letters.  I'll look for your post.

Joe - you are right about him being alive in my mind.

Paula - sorry about the lump in your throat.  And he was hecka fun!

Charlotte - Thanks.... 8 is amazing.  My Mom has 7 in her family... 4 have passed.  It makes the 3 left seem like only a few, yet that's still larger than the average american family!

Aug 21, 2009 12:27 AM #74
Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ
Weichert - Lopatcong, NJ


I'm delighted to see that this post moved the judges too! Congratulations.

Aug 21, 2009 01:15 AM #75
Janet Guilbault
Guild Mortgage - Walnut Creek, CA
San Francisco Bay Area Direct Mortgage Lender

Congrats on your win. Beautifully written and can completely relate.

I used to tell my girls the same thing for a different reason! I always felt "sister deprived" because I grew up with 2 brothers. I used to love finding friends that had sisters so I could share a little bit of what it was like to have a sister and be in a girl dominated household.

When my own daughters (18 months apart) would start fighting, I would calmly explain to them that I would have given ANYTHING to have grown up with a sister, and they were so lucky to have each other. They really were always best friends, and always operated as a team (it turned out to be a pretty powerful team in terms of helping them succeed at everything from being cheerleaders, to getting into UC Berkeley as are in Calif, you know how hard that is)

PS My mom must have figured this out because when I was 16, she gave birth to my one and only sister! Did not grow up with her, but she and I are now the best of friends!!! I finally got my sister! Happy ending.

Aug 21, 2009 03:02 AM #76
William James Walton Sr.
WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briotti Group - Waterbury, CT
Greater Waterbury Real Estate

Sally - Congratulations on taking 2nd place. I had read your story two weeks ago, but unfortunately did not leave a comment, as I did not know really what to say. It was a touching story, and I know that you will always cherish the memory of your brother.

Aug 21, 2009 03:27 AM #77
Damon Gettier
Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert - Roanoke, VA
Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE

It seems we all learn a little too late what we should have known all the time. My dad died from brain cancer and the only "good" thing that came of it was that my brother and I had 8 months to make sure we did and say everything we could ever want to do or say to him.  Thanks for posting.

Aug 21, 2009 04:37 AM #78
Terrie Leighton
Ferrari-Lund ~ Reno's Premier Real Estate Company - Reno, NV
Reno Real Estate Agent ~ Selling Homes in Reno

Sally ~ What a loving story about you andyour brother! I think most siblings grow up fighting and then become best friends at some point in their young adult loves. Although, it does sound like your brother was pretty darn ruthless to you at times ~ but he made up for it later. I defiantly had tears in my eyes by the time I finished reading about your loss! I am so sorry Sally! But thank you for sharing this very personal part of your life with us.

Aug 21, 2009 07:19 AM #79
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Terrie - sorry for the tears.  He did make up for it.  We definitely became best friends despite his ruthlessness!

Damon - I am so sorry for your Dad.  But you are right... at least a  death by illness allows you to clear the air and say the things you want/need to say.

William - I know what you  mean.... I wasn't sure what to say to you either, but your story was powerful.  I'm sure you have grown to be a wonderful man, and a wonderful father.

Janet - congrats to your daughters for being such a team.  My daughter got into Berkeley, too, but chose to go to UC Davis.  But you are right... very few get in, and to have both..... what an acheivement.

Irene - thanks.

Aug 21, 2009 09:07 AM #80
c m
Colorado Springs, CO

My brother and I are 16 months apart, (I'm older) but he was taller than me from early on.  I totally related to the stunts your brother pulled, my brother is the ultimate practical joker, and I was the butt of too many jokes/pranks/tricks to count.  We came within inches of killing each other countless times, until I went away to college.  I came home after 2 weeks for a weekend, and we have been buds ever since.  He still reminds me, and anyone who will listen that I am his "MUCH older sister", but I love him, anyway...So sorry for your loss, but if Gary is unable to fulfill his duties as an older brother, my 6'2" brother might be able to come up with a trick or two for you! Congrats on your win!

Aug 21, 2009 02:26 PM #81
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Cheryl - You are a jewel.  I'll keep your 6'2" brother in mind.

Aug 21, 2009 03:42 PM #82
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Sally, I saw in Jason's contest you were one of the winners. This was definitely one of my favorite pieces to read that you wrote. Congratulations. I think you just may have this blog writing thing down. And I knew you when you were just a fledgling newbie out there ; )

Aug 22, 2009 07:56 AM #83
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Gary - Thanks bro.... you were definitely here wiwth me from the beginning.  Thanks for your constant encouragement, support, and friendship.

Aug 22, 2009 11:50 AM #84
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Northern VA

Sally:  Congratulations on being the second place winner in the Memories of My Childhood Home contest.  I'm really happy for you!

Aug 23, 2009 03:16 AM #85
Kate Elim
Dockside Realty - Spotsylvania, VA
Realtor 540-226-1964, Selling Homes & Land a

Hi Sally...Thank you for sharing your story with us.  

It took me back to my children's childhood.  My younger son, Marc, would tease his little sister until the year we left Ohio and moved to Northern Virginia.  Marc was a high school freshman and Tamra was just a year behind.  From that time on they became great buddies. When it was time for Tamra to decide on a college she went to the College of William and Mary where Marc was.  All three sibling are very close to one another and I am so grateful for that.

I always felt that the greatest gift my parents gave me was my three sisters and I believe the best thing I gave my children was one another.

I'm glad you have so many memories of Joe and that you see him in his son and your daughter.


Sep 06, 2009 04:50 PM #86
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Kate - Thank you and you are right about a sibling being the greatest gift.  I'm happy for you that your kids are so close.

Sep 07, 2009 01:08 AM #87

He sounds like a very special person. From the reading, he obviously really liked you all along, showing it by taking the time to "pester" you. How lucky you are to have had such a special person in your life. Thanks for sharing such a heartwarming story, Sally.

Apr 11, 2015 10:08 AM #88
Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?


Sally Dunbar

Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale
Ask me a question
Spam prevention

Additional Information