Maybe it was a test of love.
But that would be ridiculous because he knew I adored him. He was my big brother and I was like that little terrier dog Chester in the Bugs Bunny cartoons, always bouncing around his idol Spike, the bulldog in the bowler hat. Complete hero worship.
Maybe it was a test of trust.
But that would be unrealistic because he knew that he was my Father Confessor. If my mother knew half the things I told my brother and asked advise about, I would be writing this from my room somewhere in a foreign convent.
I think it was a test of courage.
Bravery is a man's most cherished virtue so I believe my brother wanted to make me fearless, or at least prove I was, and I couldn't disappoint him. I don't know when it all began, but by age 8 or 9 I was regularly having knives thrown at my feet.
I would stand on the lawn and from a respectable distance, he'd whip hunting knives on the ground, always near my toes but never hitting them. We were a private Barnum and Bailey circus act without the paying audience...or the insurance. My brother would inevitably chuckle with pride and marvel at my pluckiness. To be honest, my apparent nerve wasn't anything but a childish sense of immortality.
I wonder if I can use this as blackmail? At 85 years old, our mother is still a force to be reckoned with!