Growing up in a large family can be at best, the most awesome time of ones life and at the worst, the most awesome time of ones life! I can speak of this first hand since I am the youngest child in a family of five kids. Yes the answer is clear now……the reason why I am what I am….I am the youngest child which makes me….the BABY! The last and bottom rung of the ladder….the bottom step in the stair steps of young uns’ in our family. But, someone had to be the first step…the jumping off point, if you will, to the beginnings of our clan which brings me to my thoughts for this day.
This is the special day that my big brother was born…nine years before me…the leader of the pack! I can not even describe the amount of adoration I have always had for my brother. It was borderline sheer worship at different times in my life…..who could blame me? He is the only son, my only brother and as old as he is in reference to me…that nine years was a huge gap. A gap that has always been more like a “grand canyon-esque” hole and I spent most of my teenage years yearning for his attention. Sadly he wasn’t there….at nineteen he volunteered and entered the Vietnam War.
Needless to say It was very hard to see him leave. Timing is everything. This exodus coincided with the season of change our family was in. My father had left us, high and dry, so to speak, they sold my beloved farm and my Mom, Me and two sisters moved “to town”. Since we lived in the country it was a big deal, at least to me. City schools and city kids and a world of adventure as well as fear.It’s tough on those mean streets!
My brother went through all his basic training and ended up becoming an ARMY helicopter pilot which no one was more prouder than me. But he gave up so much, he was in college, left his home and family but to him he probably chose the lesser of the two worlds. Life was hard for the oldest child back then, this beautiful boy who grew up fishing and hunting as well as being made to work like a mine mule. I think he was living the dream on one hand on our beloved farm but still having to “man up” to my father’s demands.
I was always intrigued by his bedroom and always wanted to sneak in there and see what secrets it held. I was reminded of his room many years later when I opened the door of my eldest sons room and there was an undeniable “boy scent!” It took me straight back to those days of standing at my brother’s door daring myself to enter in……chicken as I was I never did, but that scent of sweaty man boy was the same. Funny how things like that stick in your mind or should I say senses, just like the fact I can’t pick up a book without smelling it. Yep, I am weird! His kingdom was one that I had never trod but I desperately wanted in. The next few years were filled with anticipation and fear. I can not even bear to feel the pain our Mom must have felt knowing her baby was so far away in a War. This is one emotion I never want to feel. Breaks my heart for her but he seemed to take it in stride and had a big adventure….in case anyone ever wondered…he was the one who saved so many people as well as single-handed kept the bad guys at bay. He was/is an American HERO and there has never been any question about that.
When he came back from defending the American Way (Superman wasn’t the only one!) he went and met a girl and got married! About the time I thought he was coming back home…to ME! he gets married!!! Who does she think she is….. this hateful girl…I was not happy about this news and I was in a pout for a good while…even when I went to the wedding, I acted okay but I was mad on the inside. I had lost him for ever! I was never going to really get to know him. Probably a good thing because if I had ever learned of his frailties or human-ness I may have been crushed. In my world he is larger than life. Nobody had a greater big brother than me and if they ever tested that fact I would prove them wrong….I had my list of his bravery! I did get a few bonuses…the time he came home in his Shelby Cobra and he picked me up at high school….boy was that a thrill and I had to be the coolest Oakland High School girl ever! I eventually accepted this chick who stole my brother…..truthfully, I LOVED HER! She was kind and very sweet to me, I couldn’t keep from loving her. A few years later they made me an aunt and I was even more enamored with this beautiful little boy. Then they had another boy and these two were precious.
Later on they were transferred to a base closer to home which was great. I was able to go there to visit, stay the weekend and one time I was invited to go on base to a dance with them. Although I was a little disappointed because none of the guys gave me much attention…someone said it was because I was his sister and the word was…steer clear! So in that case, I wasn’t offended….even though I thought I was pretty cute back then…(ha-ha) it was even better that he was being protective. Ahhhh the best feeling ever! Though I think if my memory serves me I ended up figuring out how to bypass his protection….I was in college for Pete’s sake…a gal’s gotta flirt!
I have always been a little sister and have been blessed with great siblings who never really picked on me, they always nurtured me and looked out for me and my love for them all is BIG. My brother was always kind of mystery which probably was a preview to marrying a man…..seems like they all are a mystery to some extent. I always compared every guy I ever dated to my brother. Sadly my father wasn’t my role model, I loved him but he was absent enough to not be first and foremost. My brother was the perfect Man in my world. Oh the mocking I have endured because of my gushing about my brother. I just take it in stride and proudly laugh because I know he is amazing and I don’t care who I tell.
The years have kept us apart but he was there for me to walk me down the aisle on my most important day. The sweetest part was when I stated, as we were nearly walking in that…” I didn’t want to do all this!” meaning walking in and being stared at (the most embarrassing thing on earth) he quickly responded…”if this isn’t what you want we can go right out the back door!” AWEEE how sweet! “NO” I said, “I want to marry him I just don’t want to be stared at!” I really was bashful way back when!! So after I explained, we were good to go. he held my hand and I was so proud to have him by my side. It was just like I was a fairy princess. My favorite man was taking me to my new favorite man….it doesn’t get much sweeter than that. There have been other times in my life since then that he has been there for me…I have called him to pour out my heart, ask for help and counsel and sometimes just to shoot the breeze. Not that he is a big talker…but he is a good listener…not that he could get a word in edge wise with me anyways!
Distance and time has been the enemy of our relationship as it is for most siblings. We grow up and away, create new lives apart from our childhood, but I cant help but feel like the squirt kid sister when I am with them all at one time. I bow to their pecking order, keep my place and enjoy the placement of my step in this stair step world of brothers and sisters. We know each other in a unique way…we know each others history, real or like-real in our own minds. I know my fantasy life I built around my brother is mostly just that. But it is my memory and I can keep it in my heart just the way I want to.
Happy Birthday Big Brother! I love you and am proud to know you. You have enriched my life more than you will ever know.