A SIBLING’S VIEW
By Ann England Barker
As Gene’s only sibling, we shared a unique history. We also shared such things as measles, mumps, chicken pox, and whooping cough.
Gene was five years old when I was born. The earliest story about him that I remember concerned the time when our father was the seminary principal in Downey, Idaho. His supervisor had come to observe, and one evening he came to our home for dinner. Mother was holding me and getting dinner ready. Gene proceeded to empty the bookcase in order to get attention.
I also have early memories of Gene being punished for things I had done wrong. He was a typical older brother who loved to tease. One time he threw my dolls over the picket fence and told me that the dogs were going to eat them. I was soon in hysterics. In climbing over the fence to retrieve them, he slipped and fell on a picket. There was a lump on his tongue and blood in his mouth. Dad thought that the picket had gone all the way through, but Gene had been chewing a piece of bread and only had bitten his tongue.
We also shared mission time. Shortly after Gene and Charlotte left for Samoa, our parents and I left for Minneapolis, Minnesota, where our father served as president of the North Central States Mission. Letters from Gene encouraged me to be an example to the LDS youth and to keep my standards high. He sent me a beautiful lei from Hawaii (where he had been transferred after Charlotte returned home with their new daughter, Katherine) for my high school graduation.
When it came time for me to choose a marriage partner, I thought so highly of Gene that I chose someone very much like him—someone brilliant and thoroughly good.
Our lives went in separate directions for many years. But in the early ’70s, I had a stillborn son. For many months afterward, I experienced a deep depression. At that time, Gene was teaching at St. Olaf’s College in Northfield, Minnesota. That April, he traveled to Salt Lake City for LDS General Conference. He was very busy because it was also a time when he met in person with many of the board of directors of Dialogue, but out of his great concern for me, he took the time to drive to Cache Valley to spend an afternoon with me. As I poured out my grief to him, I began to heal.
Shortly after his death, Gene appeared to my husband, Duane, in a dream. Duane had been diagnosed with a tumour on his pituitary gland. He was home alone and was distraught. Gene came and spent the night with him, giving him comfort and peace. That’s the kind of thing Gene does.