My very first two memories actually revolve around him: I was almost 3 years old and my mom and I were shopping at Ingles, (a grocery store here in the south). I don't remember the actual shopping part of the trip, but I do remember our walk out to the car when we were done. My mom was pushing the cart across the parking lot and her belly was huge. I looked at her belly, then looked up at her and said, "I'm having a little brother." She smiled at me and said, "But you might have a little sister. Don't be disappointed if you don't have a brother." I told her again, "No. I'm having a little brother." To which she replied, "How do you know?" (Ultrasounds weren't done at the time.) And I said, "Because he told me." And I believe he did tell me. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, when I looked at her big swollen belly, that there was a brother inside there for me.
My second memory is of being in the hospital, the day he was born. Back in the 70s kids weren't allowed to visit the nursery, so I was stuck in the waiting room with my grandparents. I remember being really pissed off that I couldn't go up there and see my baby brother. I kept asking Mama, (my mom's mother), why I couldn't go up. She tried to coddle me and make me feel better about it, but I wasn't having it. I was mad, arguing, and pouting. She finally went up to see my mother, and when she came back down she said my new brother had a surprise for me. She handed me a little brown stuffed monkey that sucked it's thumb and told me that my brother had brought it for me when he arrived. For years and years after that, even when I should have been too old to believe it, I actually believed my brother came out of my mom's stomach with that monkey. In my mind he bought it in Heaven and brought it down with him into the world as a gift for me.
We're really tight, but we're not the most lovey-dovey siblings ever... My brother and I can argue and bicker like nobodies business. We can get mad at one another over the most asinine things and not talk for weeks. But when it comes down to it, we both know that we will be there for one another no matter what. I recall being about 12 years old and a neighborhood boy, a year older than me, was picking on him in our front yard. My brother started crying and I lost it. I slammed that kid up against a tree, picked up his bicycle, and bashed him with it with everything I had. The kid fell down dazed and then hopped on his bike and quickly rode away. I got into big trouble with my dad for fighting, but I didn't care. The thing is, I could beat the shit outta my brother, but no one else was allowed to touch him. Those were, and still are, the rules.
As little kids we played matchbox cars, GI Joe, He-Man, and "little verdy van." We made up songs and choreographed our infamous ballet swan dance. We watched Honey Honey, Transformers, and Voltron. We played for hours with Good Pooty, Bad Pooty, and Hot-Dog Wiener (our imaginary friends). We'd zoom around the yard in our go-cart (with the lawn-mower engine) that went 3 miles an hour. We climbed the little tree on the side of our house and played in with silk worm nests. As teenagers we sometimes partied together and got into things we shouldn't have. We came *thissss* close to getting arrested and going to jail one particularly interesting evening. I gave him his first hit of...... anyway, bad sister, moving on. As young adults he lived with me and helped me take care of my new baby... and then he introduced me to my Husband. And now, as middle-aged old farts, we watch each others kids when the other has to run to the store. And our "partying" now consists of sitting around, being tired, watching all the kids run around like we used to... and listening to our mom bitch about everything 'cause she's old and that's apparently what old people do. So many of my life memories involve him and could fill up volumes upon volumes. But I will stop with this...
Our childhoods were less than easy. He's been through hell and back with me, and he's one of the only people who understands the depths of abuse and craziness I've been through. Because he went through it too. And even though I hate that he had to go through all of that horror, I'm glad we had each other to lean on at the time... glad we still have each other to lean on. So happy birthday brother, hope you have many, many more... and hooray for siblings and all that shit.
Photo by: Our Dad
(My brother. He's not this cute anymore)