I was the baby of the family. I had three siblings and we were all born within 5 years and 3 months of each other. My mom wanted six children. Her doctor told her no. I would be the last if she wanted to live to raise us.
My brother and I were born a year and 10 months apart. I always admired and looked up to him. Being the two youngest and closest in age, I am sure he was saddled with entertaining me more frequently than he would have liked. So many of my young memories involve my brother rather than my sisters.
I think it must have been hard on him, too, being the only male sibling. I can only imagine how he might have felt surrounded by sisters all the time. I give my brother credit for me being quite the tomboy, though, because I played a lot of the games he liked to play. I remember standing beside him looking into the bathroom mirror, faces full of shaving cream, shaving with his razors fitted with cardboard blades.
We were cowboys together, hunted imaginary bears, and fished for wire hanger fish from the top of our bunk beds. In high school, we had the same friends and worked at the same Mr. Steak restaurant and even went to the movies together when our dates stood us up.
My girlfriends were envious that all the boys came to our house on Saturday to hang out with my brother. I laugh to think of it now. They would hang out and watch TV and burp and fart and roll in laughter. I became one of the guys although I drew the line at the farting and burping.
I think being the only son was a lot of pressure. There were expectations and often they were unfair. I did not see it then, but with age our vision improves.
I lost my brother for a bit when he joined the army and was shipped to Korea. It was a hard time for him and for our family. I was glad when his tour was over, but I do not think those years ever fully left him.
My brother rescued me when my first husband shattered my heart. He came to my aid even though my husband was his best friend. Those relationships were so intertwined and the waters not easy to navigate, but somehow we managed.
He has fought and defeated lung cancer and as recently as December, has also undergone treatment for prostate cancer.
We talk a few times a week and sometimes we talk about things that only he and I can understand. We share the bond of two people who have endured the losses of a once big and bold nuclear family
I love you.