Yesterday was my oldest brother’s birthday. I tried all day to get this post up, but I had outpatient surgery on Monday, and apparently Percocet does not inspire creativity, or even the ability to sling words together. For me, mostly it involves falling asleep. After trying all day, I only got as far as “Happy Birthday, Big Brother”. Today, I’m writing this before the Percocet kicks in.
B was born when I was five. He was a cute baby, although he became less cute after the twentieth smelly diaper I changed. (Yes, I “got” to change diapers when I was five.)
Because I was so much older, it was my responsibility to watch him when my parents were out. We were living in Utah at the time, renting a house with a large orchard in the back. There was a shed at the back fence between the yard and the orchard; we kept rabbits there. On one particular day, my parents were out back, and my brother and I were inside eating breakfast. B liked to rock back on his chair. Each time he did it, I told him to stop, or he was going to fall over and crack his head open.
As a testimony to how much authority I wielded over my brother (and later, the remaining siblings), he kept doing it. And guess what? He overbalanced and fell backward, hitting his head on the cupboard behind him…and cracked his head open.
Head wounds bleed a lot. Since I didn’t have any first aid training (I think I was six), I slammed out the back door and ran as fast as I could to the back of the property, where our parents were. The whole way, all I could think about was that somehow I had failed at my duties, and had managed to kill my brother over breakfast.
Luckily for me, he didn’t die, and he grew up to be a pretty cool guy. A year or so after graduating high school, he enlisted in the Air Force, where he trained to be an aircraft controller. He married his sweetheart. They had three boys. He met with great success in his job, making the Air Force his lifelong career. Several years back, he reached the pinnacle of his career, a position almost unattainable. He and his wife are still married. Two of their boys are grown and living their adult lives–one a junior officer in the Navy, and another getting ready to embark on an adventure as an officer in the Air Force.
My brother, my sister-in-law, and their children are good people. They live a good life. A meaningful life. I couldn’t be more proud about his accomplishments, but I’m even more so to see the man he became. My oldest brother. We don’t speak often, but I keep up on what’s going on through their posts on the internet, and through our parents.
So here’s my birthday wish for you, big brother, belated as it is:
Live a long, happy life. Cherish each day. And know that my thoughts are with you, and that your big sister is ever so proud of you.
Categories: Birthday Letters