Seasons Change and So Do Siblings

My brother’s birthday is tomorrow.  I think he’s reached the peak of the 50’s and is starting down the far side but don’t tell him that I told you.  After all, I’m still the big sis, which means that I’ll always be older but c’est la vie!  That’s him up above after one of his birthdays.  He got quite a nice haul, didn’t he?  Not a video game in the bunch but I’ll bet he got many months of play out of that stash.  And dig that fedora!  Not many boys could pull off that cool look.

Anyhow, thinking about his birthday got me to thinking about our years growing up together.  He’s my only sibling and we didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye when we were younger.  I think it all started with the fact that I was the only child for the first 5 years of my life.  Then along came this pipsqueak.  To make matters worse, he was born with a broken collarbone so he got a lot of extra attention those first few weeks at home while I kind of faded into the woodwork, a position that I was NOT used to finding myself in.

I guess you could say that my attitude toward life in general (and my brother, in particular) could be summed up by the above photograph.  It all stunk!  I found life with my brother to be about as palatable as my Mom’s overcooked peas I’d try to force down my throat.  My brother, on the other hand, attacked everything with gusto.  Grrrrrr!

To make matters worse, just as he was getting cuter and cuter, I was getting dopier looking.  I was getting the dreaded “buckteeth”, my eyes had gone bad so I now had spectacles, and I was chunking up.  Mom still insisted on dressing us up in ridiculous outfits and my sunny disposition continued to go south.  I became the bossy older sister and we became the “battling Looses” – always fighting over this or that little turf war.  When we’d go on long car trips (an annual summer event), our mom was reduced to stacking pillows from seat to ceiling between the two of us in the car, figuring if we couldn’t see each other, we wouldn’t fight.  We usually hadn’t made it more than 10 miles out of town before the pillows had tumbled like the walls of Jericho and we were going at it and our dad was massaging his forehead.

But somewhere along the line, things began to change.  I think it happened when I was off at college.  He started to become human.  By the time I had graduated and he was now off at college, our relationship was entering a new phase.  I was actually starting to like my brother and miss him.  Go figure!  The years continued to go by, he graduated and got a job out East, I joined the military and suddenly we were doing things like sking together and sightseeing around Europe together with Eurail passes.  And you know what?  We were having a good time.  He wasn’t such bad company.

When I got married and had our first child, my brother was one of our first visitors.  He was a pretty proud uncle and still is!  I was pretty thrilled to be able to show off our daughter to him and have him there to share in our joy.

When he got married, I was thrilled to be asked to be a part of the wedding party.  My “baby brother” had grown up and was starting a family of his own.  I was so proud that day and so happy for him.  And when his sons were born, you would have been hard-pressed to find a happier aunt.  I love those boys!

Another amazing thing —I discovered that my brother and I share the same quirky sense of humor.  I guess we were so busy fighting as kids that we just didn’t realize how much alike we were in so many ways.

As the years have continued on, we’ve both banded together to take care of our mom as best we can.  We’ve become an informal “care team”, trying to make the best decisions for her as multiple mini-strokes have robbed her of her independence and much of her cognitive skills.  While Mom was still able to travel, he even made some of the annual pilgrimages with Mom and me out to Minnesota to visit the relatives, stopping in Wisconsin to visit Dad’s grave.  I’ll never forget the time we had on our last visit with Mom and Aunt Maxine, as they were both exhibiting the beginnings of dementia  and how many late-night trips to a diner John and I had to make for some apple pie a la mode just to save our sanity. 

He and I battled the “wildlife” at Mom’s house (long vacant while she lived with us) and we sure worked hard together trying to get her house ready to sell.  What a job we had getting it all cleaned out and spruced up.  It wasn’t exactly a “walk down Memory Lane.”  It was more like a “nightmare on Elm Street.”  But we pulled together and got it done.

So here’s to you, John.  We might have gotten off to a rocky start but somewhere along the line, you became the best brother a girl could ever ask for.  Happy Birthday!

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Hot Flashed Funk

  • Thanks so much for the memories. The last picture was actually taken while mom was still in the house. The “wildlife” had been chasing her around the house so I teed off on it with the tennis racket and the rest was history. She took the picture! That’s me getting ready to dispose of it down the street. Love, John

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