Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

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Jeff Blackwell      Jeff, JB, Big Blackie … we wish you a happy birthday, young man!

“This week, my next-oldest brother turns 61.”

Who wants to tell Blackie? Screen Two whispers to the other five.

“Tell me what, Two?”

Screen One waves off Two, drops his voice, slowly says, Boss, Jeff is no longeruh, with us. He left this life –

“Are you crying, One?”

– most unexpectedly during a July 2000 family reunion.

“I know that.”

Surprise sweeps through all six screens. Four pipes up, Call me Captain Obvious, but you did just write Jeff is turning 61. That defies the sad truth of his early passing.

“Not really. Despite his death and the terrible ache his absence creates, he is still very much among us.”

Explain that whole “gone, not gone” business, demands Six.

“OK, I hear your confusion. Granted, Jeff – JB or Big Blackie, if you prefer – lives no longer. Physically, I mean. But I do believe the essence of my brother continues on its merry way through his children.”

Really? queries Two. How do you see JB in his three kids?

“First, let me clarify. They are his children, but they are not kids. At 28, Eric is the oldest and the only son to carry on the family name. Miss Laura Beth, 23, is the second daughter and youngest offspring.

Blackwell trio

Laura Beth, Eric and Alyssa are Jeff’s joys

 “And second, to answer your question, I see ‘Big Blackie’ in them as a direct result of our Thanksgiving get-together at my twin sister’s home.”

But Jeff’s middle child couldn’t make it, reminds Four.

“Doesn’t lessen the impact made by the two who did.”

Eric’s mannerisms, agrees Three, are remarkably similar to his father’s. It would be something to see them side-by-side.

“His assured smile, good looks, athletic strengths, fierce competitiveness, eyes lighting as he tells stories – “

Like watching JB all over again, Six says gruffly to fight the tears One cannot.

“There’s more. After two years of dating, Eric finally unveils Julia, his wonderful girlfriend. That is so much like his father, who bashfully kept his high-school dating of Karen Sibley from us for as long as he could. And how JB would have loved to watch his cyber-sharp son lead Miss Julia and the other cousins in ‘flashlight drawings’ that brisk Thanksgiving night.”

You also mentioned his youngest daughter, reminds Five. Tell us what you see in her that so readily brings your brother to mind.

“His third child, Miss Laura Beth – not to be confused with Miss Laura, my beautiful brown-eyed bride – ”

Is that why you always throw in the middle name? asks Four.

“ – is JB’s carbon kid. An absolute clone.”

She is prettier, laughs Two. Way prettier than her dad.

“I’m ignoring you, Two,” I also laugh. “But she is beautiful. A beauty that permeates, that sweetly drifts to the surface from deep within. Laura Beth has a gentleness that draws people … a heart for those less fortunate. She proves this time and again with her many selfless trips to help the world’s poor overseas.”

You’ve nicely described JB’s daughter, compliments Three. But you haven’t cited the characteristics that undeniably, indisputably match father to youngster. Cough ’em up!

“I know what you were waiting to hear, Three,” I chuckle, “so I held back. Now your patience – ”

Patient screens? retorts One. When mere seconds seems like hours in our fast-processing world, there are no such things as “patient screens.”

Partial Blackwell gathering“ – pays off. During sister Dianne’s phenomenal Thanksgiving weekend, that lively Laura Beth entertains all 20-plus ‘boarders’ in my twin’s people-packed palace.”

And she does it nonstop, commends Four. That girl goes 24/7 and never bats an eyelash.

Rhymes Three, A pure JB Mini-Me, fresh from the Blackwell bakery.

Cheers Six, Full of conviction without harsh opinion.

Screen One interrupts the levity. Seems to me Miss Laura Beth exhibits many of your ADHD tendencies, Boss. Yet her mother clearly is not so predisposed and her dad escaped such a diagnosis.

“The ‘experts’ are wrong on that latter count, One,” I say, wistfully. “Jeff – more than I ever will – embodied Attention Deficit Disorder. Trust me, that boy brought the ‘H’ of Hyperactivity to new levels.”

Six screens replay Laura Beth’s high-humor “commercial” using lightly scented, anti-static, fabric-softener, dryer sheets as her topic. I watch in awe as she keeps the huge Blackwell clan – yes, even her big brother Eric – spellbound, our sides aching in laughter for 30 full minutes.

“Jeff,” says Six, wiping a tear that may have escaped as much out of mourning as mirth, “it is good to have you back.”

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Postscript: Extending my hand in greeting, I tell a young man my name is Blackie.

The African-American gentleman asks in surprise, “Your name is what?”

I repeat it. He says, “No, I’m Blackie. You’re just a little white guy.”

My turn to laugh. “Honors an older brother who passed.”

“How long you been ‘Blackie’?”

“Got it when I was in college with that same brother, sooo … probably longer than you’ve been alive, youngster.”

“Still got you beat,” he replies. “You’ve only been Blackie for ‘x’ number of years. I’ve been Blackie all my life.”

* * * * *

Humans bowling … or bowled humans?

Proof ADHD-Powered people make decisions