As you pick up this paper and read this column, my “little” brother will be in the midst of celebrating his 47th birthday. I have no doubt that celebration will involve a sweet tea from McDonald’s, lounging in front of a television or a computer, and searching for the next great Apple program that will change the world. Or perhaps he will splurge and have Starbucks for his birthday, though that requites a half-hour drive seeing that Ripley isn’t exactly what you might refer to as a Starbucks community.
My first memories of my “little” brother were of the day we brought him home from the hospital and I swore that we did not have a baby, but rather a rubber chicken, much like the two who were married on the Paul Dixon Show. (Remember that one old timers?) Anyway, take a look at him now and you will see the rubber chicken days have passed him by, much as they have myself.
Growing up the athlete that I was (insert heavy laughter), my goal was to make the same out of “little” brother. but spending all day in someone’s backyard or on their driveway basketball court didn’t originally fit into his plans, but eventually he would make his way into the neighborhood wiffle ball games. Of course, he would pack up his bat and ball and go home when I repeatedly struck him out with my devastating fastball and he could not keep me from breaking Hank Aaron’s home run record as a deadly switch hitter who continually launched rockets over the neighbor’s roof. Let it be noted here that his memories of these times may differ. That would be old age creeping in. For him of course, not me.
I even tried to make a football player out of him. Numerous times we would wander with the pigskin into the living room, much to our mother’s objections, and when I yelled out ” Bill Bergey” and proceeded to viciously tackle him into the couch, rattling the furniture and every lamp in the room, I enjoyed great satisfaction and Mom, well not so happy. If I tried to do that today, I would shatter every bone in my body.
“Little” brother’s interests tended to drift towards the musical side and he was in the school band and a drum player. A pretty good drum player if I say so myself, which would lead him into some musical groups later. It was a struggle to get him through high school as studying was not high on his priority list, because he unfairly was compared to myeslf and our sister in that regards. Always remember though that book sense isn’t everything. In fact, it may mean very little any more. If my memory serves me correctly though he was a pitcher on some not-so-hot Ripley high school baseball teams, where he couldn’t pack up his bat and ball and run home, though he probably wanted to quite often.
Well, we got him through high school and believe it or not, college was in his future as he headed toward what was then known as Cincinnati Bible College to be of all things, a minister. Where had that come from? CBC seemed to be just the right thing for him, though I don’t know that I ever saw his grades but they let him through. He was part of a really neat traveling music group and got to see a lot of the country, much as my daughter is now as a member of the college soccer team. Circle of life I believe that is called.
It’s weird how the relationship between brothers changes as life meanders ahead and how many parallels you find. We both actually found women crazy enough to marry us and our children are very much connected. His first son was born in July 1993 and my daughter followed in August. His second son was an October baby and my son followed in January. That was like a race and he won that one, but not by much. Maybe he never figured out that I was working slower in that department because the “trying” was so much more fun. Anyway, we have super kids so somewhere we actually did something right, though I know that deep down he hurts because his sons now live in the Cincinnati area and none of us get to spend as much time with them as we would like. (That’s a hint Logan Carpenter!)
Even as he continues to get older (I’m already there), one thing has never changed and that is the fact that we always have each other’s backs, often times when the other likely didn’t even know. That’s what brothers do, right or wrong, they back each other up. In fact, that’s what families should do, period. God put us together for a reason. “Little” certainly hasn’t agreed with everything I have done over the years and I certainly have scratched my head at some of his actions, but in the end, who cares? We’re brothers and that is all that really matters. We have done the obligatory act of making our parents crazy and now do the same for our own families, all part of the short process that we call life.
We’d probably both like to go back to those wiffle ball games, the farting contests from bedroom to bedroom, the crazy adventures with all the neighborhood kids, G.I. Joe toys, hitting rocks into the open fields next door, and all the other childhood memories that have long since faded from our minds. Yesterday is just that, yesterday, and our time on earth is far too short to worry about it. Today is today and we have no clue what tomorrow may bring no matter how much we plan ahead.
So “little” brother, enjoy #47 as much as you did the first 46. Did you ever even have a birthday party? Drink an extra sweet tea or two just for the heck of it and tell Mom to cook up some chicken and dumplings. Find a ball game to watch and think back on all the beatings you took in the neighbor’s yard.
By the way, that minister thing I mentioned earlier. It worked out.