Today is my brother’s 50th birthday. I know I’ve said it before, but my brother has been the one constant in my life. This doesn’t mean that we didn’t have our times of conflict. I recall darts being thrown at my feet to encourage me to vacate his room and spats over typical sibling bullshit, but, ultimately, if I ever needed anything, I’m talking protection, advice, $, he gave it to me.
Having only one sibling, and about a half a parent, made for an independent life. There are times when weeks, maybe even months, have passed without my brother and I speaking. Like some sort of German standoff, I may have even consciously not called him just to see how long it would be until he called me. He always wins. It doesn’t really matter, though, because when I do finally break down and dial his number, he almost always answers.
The thought that there is only a single person in the entire universe who shared your childhood is sobering. Without my brother, I’m the sole keeper of legends and memories – a pretty weighty responsibility for the child with a reputation for being a bit wild. Even though our recollections aren’t always (ever?) identical, the comfort of knowing that he was there, we were in it together, is reassuringly grounding. The world feels like a safer place with him it.
Our mother complained that the boys in her family (and there were a lot of them) were treated better than the girls, they were considered “princes,” while the girls were more scullery maids. As a parent, she continued that tradition and, if you’ve ever met the Lilly boys, you know I’m guilty of the same thing.
On a Veteran’s Day a half century ago my brother was born. His uniform is more lab coat than camo, his throne the same stool he’s been sitting on for at least 35 years, but these details do nothing to diminish the fact that, to me, he is a hero and a prince. Happy birthday, TJM!