This is a belated post…I forgot to post it on my brother’s birthday. It was a few weeks ago!!!
I have two brothers…both of them engineers…both of them cute and funny.
My brother John’s birthday is today. Normally my mom would have called him to wish him a Happy Birthday…she would have sent him a dozen flowery cards and she would have cried and called him “my Johnny”. She might even have sung Happy Birthday to him over the phone and she probably would have had a tear in her eye because he was not at home for her to fuss over. When we were little and had birthdays tons of my aunts and uncles lived in the town that we grew up in. It was called McDonald…now older and smartier…we call it McDonaldland.
But…everyone would have been at our house for our birthdays. There would have been tons of stuff to eat…and a huge home made birthday cake with this white whipped kind of icing that I crave to this day. The cake would be in the middle of the dining room table and my dad would turn the lights off, the candles on the cake would be gleaming and everyone would sing. We would have birthday cards with money in them from all of our relatives and my Uncle Frank would always say it was his birthday, too, even though it wasn’t. That would be the way we would celebrate my brother John’s birthday. My siblings and I always told my mom that he was her favorite and it would make her so mad…not mad mad just funny mad. But I really think he was. He was very sick when he was born and I remember my mom just holding him and rocking him to make him feel better. He has a tiny little scar on his ankle from a blood transfusion that saved his life. My mom would do anything for him…she loved him so much. She always made extra meatballs when she was making her yummy pasta sauce because she knew he would eat 5 or 6 before we had dinner. And anything he did for her, she cherished. They had a very special sort of relationship.
My brother John was the sort of kid who was smart, funny and prone to injuries…many many injuries. He chipped his tooth when he was a crossing guard…we called them patrol boys at our school because he was playing around with the flag pole thing that he used to stop traffic. He was riding an antique bike that he was told not to ride and fell into our neighbors stucco house and had to have stitches…I found him crying in our garage with his hand on his head…he looked up at me and asked me to look at his head to see if it was “blooding” and I nearly fainted…he needed ten stitches to close the gash. He broke his arm when he fell off of his new two wheeler and I think he broke something else playing baseball. He ate spaghetti sandwiches on either white or Italian bread….OMG!!! My dad was always calm and cool and collected as he took my brother to various doctors and emergency rooms. My mom was the freak out kind of mom…tears first, admonitions that he was careless and then a race to the hospital. My dad was the one who removed the fishhooks from my brother’s fingers and the splinters from his bare feet and put ice on him when he got burned from caps and sparkliers…
My brother John was amazing when my parents both became ill. He would fly into town to give my sister a much needed rest from the responsibility of my parents. When they were still at home he would sit with them and cook for them and take care of the things they needed. He was patient and loving as my mom slowly grew more and more detached from us. When my parents could no longer stay at home and were in an assisted living home he would again fly into town and then visit them no less than three times a day. He would time it so that he would be there in the morning and then would sit with my dad for lunch and then help him back to his room. Then he would go back again for dinner…
It was almost unbearable seeing my mom and dad not in their beloved home but he did it for them. And again unbearable when my mom did not always know who he was…but he was always there.
My brother John was always my protector…he helped me buy my first car but then we had a huge fight when he thought he could drive it whenever he wanted. My dad was mad at me for staying out late with friends. My brother John snuck me into the house in spite of how mad my dad was at me. When I was in college and worked at a summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina my first summer, he gave me my favorite James Taylor album on a cassette to take with me. I still have a little wooden log cabin that he brought me from a fishing trip.
So…there always are so many things that make up the life of a family…we lived in a small town, went to college close by and grew up very protected. My brother John was the first of us to leave home…his first job was in Michigan and I still remember him sitting at the wheel of a huge UHaul van, with his furniture and possessions, ready to leave McDonaldland for his first adventure. My mom and I waved him off until we couldn’t see him any more and then we cried and cried. From that moment on he was always “ my John…the engineer”. They would save and savor and share his successes with all of their family and friends.
So…I am not with my brother for his birthday but my heart is. I know my mom and dad are thinking of their wonderful smart son who fulfilled all of their dreams for him.
Happy Birthday, John!!!