There's a man in my life I have great admiration for. He's not this man or this man, he's a man, who I haven't always been kind to, who has caused me grief from time to time and who's played a key role in my life. We've shared memories and a few "moments", heck we even share genetics.
Had you not guessed it by now, I'm talking about my brother. You know, that guy I mention from time to time who's a few years younger than I. I'd tell you his name but then I'd have to kill you, well, not really but he's got this thing with his privacy and not wanting is information on the internet. And since I'm too old to be antagonistic to him, I'll respect his wishes. (Sometimes I even think he might have the right idea. I seriously wonder, how much safer would I be if I didn't blog and wasn't a member of Facebook? As much as I feel I'm in control, am I really?...another day)
However, his 25th birthday is today and I couldn't, I just couldn't let this day go by with out a post. So, for the purpose of this post well call him "G" (this has no significance other than the fact that it's not his name and every time I think about referring to him as "Little G" it makes me giggle. That and because if I tried doing what I did when we were young adolescents and call him Squirt he may never talk to me again.).
To top that off, I'm a very visual person. I love photos and pictures because they hold countless memories and make a reader feel connected to the person in question. The problem with that is he wants privacy, I can't post photos of us as kids, it might give it away (or expose some of my less than desirable style choices throughout the years). So, I did what any good sister would do...
Meet "Little G"
Anyways, the years since I've moved away from home have seen the relationship between "G" and I grow distant. Having jobs, getting married, having children and life have all got in the way. It's not something that's unusual for siblings, especially those of the opposite sex, but it is something that from time to time has made me sad - I miss my brother.
This past year though, has given us more opportunities to see each other. Our fantastic weekend in Sooke was the real beginning for us to get to know each other again, and that's really what it's like, starting over. More than that even, it's been the chance to not only watch him grow relationships with Bethany and Audrey but also for me to see who he's become.
I think as we all grow up, especially those of us who are the oldest in the sibling chain of command, we set out expectations of who our siblings are going to be. Not that we think endlessly about the careers they will choose or the lives they will lead, but more we think about who they'll be in general and the role they will play in our lives. I'm not sure if it was a conscious thought process for me, but as adulthood approached for both of us I quickly realized it wasn't going to be what I thought.
I envisioned us being close, I thought that age and separate bathrooms would see us growing closer together, bridging the gap in our relationship that sibling rivalry had created and becoming more than blood relatives but friends. It didn't quite go like that, we didn't fight so much any more but we hardly talked. Not because of anger or a problem but because we'd become two different people, living different lives.
Somewhere in my mind, over this time I've created the person I believed "G" to be. I had made up my mind that while I knew he was old enough to live on his own, buy a vehicle and kiss a girl (to which I still say BLECH! Even when it is a nice girl that we like, Blech! Hi "GF" (again privacy thing but I figure ya'll can figure out girlfriend = GF), he was still a young man, a teenager inside. Someone who I was smarter than, who couldn't possibly possess the life skills that I did and someone that still needed his big sister to watch over him - even if I couldn't.
What I've come to discover is something quite the opposite. The person I sat across the living room with the other day didn't posses any of the qualities a teenager would, somewhere between 19 and this unbelievable 25 years old "G" has managed to not only mature into a man but a smart at that. What's more, I had nothing to do with it.
I know, right! I had nothing to do with it. I haven't been around for 6ish years and look what's happened. Maybe that says something, about God's power and wisdom (not about me, yo).
"G" has become someone I'm so proud of, not just the whole, "He's my brother and it's heavy" thing, but because of the man he's choosing to be. As I spend more time talking with him I'm finding that he's smart, about things I'm not. He understands worlds in a way that I couldn't possibly (I'd like to think I'm still a little sheltered) and he's brave. I know that sounds kind of like he's not afraid to pick up a sword and fight a dragon, and while I think he'd probably get a kick out of that, it isn't what I mean. He's not afraid to try anything, or if he is he's stellar at keeping it hidden, he'll take on challenges that make me cringe, he'll eat just about anything if the price is right (or the dare is big enough) and he has no problem putting on what I deem a flimsy mask and let dudes shoot paintballs at him. (I hear that it's ok because you get to shoot people back, but anything that causes welts that also result in nasty bruises is unappealing to me) He accepts people who the world turns away and loves those who sometimes are outcasts. I'm ashamed to say that quite often he gives people, the ones that I'd automatically write off based on reputation or appearance a chance, and some how manages to find the gold that's in them. It's one of those things I'd say is one of his true gifts.
One of his other gifts? He's a really good uncle, a great one even. The first time "G" met Bethany he was squeamish. I handed her over to him and the look on his face pretty much said, "If this kid pukes on me I'm gonna toss her and run", then he looked in her face. I have a picture of that moment, it's one of my favourites. Then Audrey came along, he'd had time to get to know Bethany and had started to see glimpses of what his relationship with her could be but still it was light years away. The first time he met AJ was something very similar to Bethany, this time however he refused to hold her. It was the chink in his armour, he was afraid he'd hurt her. Someone took her and plunked her in his arms leaving him no choice and again, the "fear of poo" appear, then he looked at her. I have that moment in picture form too, it's my next favourite. The girls are far away from those teeny infants now and the relationship he has with them has grown just as much. From the very first moment "G" told Bethany that he'd take her to her first day of school, it's a promise she talks of every once in awhile and one that I know Audrey will look forward to, too. These past few months, Bethany's become one of his "girls", and while Audrey's still a little skittish she too is coming around to Uncle "G". They light up when he comes in a room, they chatter about him when he leaves and as far as they are concerned he's one of the coolest people they know. Next to Papa that is.
The cool thing is, I think in his eyes, they might just be the coolest little people he knows. And if they aren't he's gonna hear about it from his still older sister. He's not completely without his faults now, he still sucks at phoning me back and when he does getting more than one word answers is like a miracle, but I deal with it. At least I'm getting to see him once in awhile, now. That and today's his birthday so I'll keep the airing of dirty laundry to a minimum.
Today, this guy, this man that I love so much turns 25. He's 1/4 of a century and it kind of blows my mind. Not in the same way that watching our girls grow up has, but more in a way that feels surreal. How did we get here? My first memory is the day he came home from the hospital, sitting in the middle of the night, in the shadow of the stairs watching someone rock him to sleep, I knew then I'd always love and protect him. But how is in that 25 years have passed since that moment?
The years went fast and felt slow, the fights were monumental (dude hit me in the back with a pot - I may have deserved it but I'll never let him live it down), the laughter erased most of them and the memories, today, overwhelm.
Happy Birthday "G"! I am truly proud of the man you've become, of the integrity that you show and the Uncle you are to my girls. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I believe God has great things planned for you, truly great and magnanimous things, and I know you're well on your way to finding them. I love you as much now as I did that very first moment, and respect you twice as much. I hope with all my heart you enjoy your day!