Traveling with Your Sibling

When my brother and I set out on the “Mom Memorial Tour” last month to take our mother’s cremains to Minnesota, we had set our route to retrace the paths that we used to travel every year as kids when we’d head out to the family farm. We wanted to hit all of the notable eating establishments that we remembered and we also wanted to see as many of our relatives as we could. We planned to visit our dad’s grave in Marinette, Wisconsin. We planned to walk the streets of Marine-on-St. Croix that our great-great grandfather walked when he settled there in the 1800’s and established a little country store and then a brewery. We decided on a side jaunt to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to see the sights where my brother worked over 30 years ago. Finally we planned to bury our mother in the little country cemetery flanked by rural vistas near the farm where she was born. We did all of that and more.

We did a few unexpected things along the way, too, like pick up an additional car. Hey, don’t blame me. I was just along for the ride, sort of. What we didn’t expect was the number of people who commented on how surprised they were that we would even attempt to travel together. So often we heard the comment, “We can’t believe you two would make a trip like this together. We’d never be able to travel with our brother (or sister). We’d kill each other.”

I don’t know why that surprises me but it does. You see, I’ve been traveling with my brother a lot over the years. We traveled every summer together as kids right up until I graduated from college. Of course, we fought like cats and dogs, too, but a funny thing happened when I graduated and joined the Army. Suddenly, he became a friend, not just a sibling. John came over to Europe when I was stationed there and we backpacked around Europe together. Oh, my…the fun adventures we had. When Mom became older and we needed to help her drive, John and I took some trips together with Mom out to Minnesota and back. So traveling together isn’t a hardship for us; it’s fun.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. We have our moments. When I don’t get fed regular meals, I get cranky…REAL cranky. There was that one day that John completely forgot to stop for lunch. I was a tad testy by the time we stopped that evening. “Why didn’t you just eat some chips?” he said. I almost stuffed the bag of chips down his throat. I’m hypoglycemic. Never tease someone when their blood sugar is low. Then there was two days ago when we were driving over the Mackinaw Bridge. John had surged ahead in his Prius and I was way behind him.

“Pull over and pass and then you’ll catch up with me,” he said.

“I hate driving on that metal grate part of the bridge,” I whined.

“Just do it. You’ll be fine,” he assured me.

I pulled over and started slowly passing cars and RVs. Darn, my car was shimmying all over the place. It was scary.

“I hate this,” I said, over the speakers as we talked on our connected phones. “My car is weaving on this grate.”

“Put both hands on the wheel and it won’t do that,” John said.

“I HAVE BOTH HANDS ON THE WHEEL,” I thundered. “What do you think I’m doing, sitting here with one hand hanging out the window on a joy ride, you idiot?”

“You’ll be fine,” he calmly assured me. “You’re probably almost past the grate section. Just pull back over to the other lane when there is an opening.”

I was and I did and I calmed down. Of course it helped that we stopped within five minutes for lunch.

Speaking of eating, that was really the only other blow-out we had. At our last stop on the way home, John suggested that we split one meal.

“I don’t mind splitting the malt and fries but I’d like my own burger,” I said.

“Why, we had a big lunch. Just split a meal with me,” he said.

“YOU had a big lunch. I only had half of a patty melt but you had two big fish filets. Speak for yourself. I’m getting my own burger,” I shouted at him. Then I noticed the waitress standing there looking at us in astonishment.

“It’s ok,” I said to her. “He’s my brother. I can talk to him like that.”

We all laughed. I got my own burger and I only was able to eat half of it. Darn if he wasn’t right. Don’t tell him I said that, though.

I woke up this morning and found this note on the table along with some instructions on things I could do to keep busy today. That’s my brother. I love the guy. We’re both hot-tempered but our snits blow over quickly. We’re both impulsive, love to laugh, nutty, and love to travel. Frankly, you could do a lot worse for a traveling companion. I hope God grants us many more opportunities to hit the road together. Mom would be proud of us.

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