My brother was born when I was two and a half years old. I may not remember what you told me yesterday, but I remember the day my mother and father brought him home from the hospital.
My mother left me with my three aunts and grandmother when she went to give birth. It was a lousy day in February and my uncle was afraid to drive her because of snow and ice, so she had to call a car service. My aunts took care of me for the couple of days she was away. The day she walked through the door, she was holding my brother in her arms. She took one look at me and put him down on the couch. As she came to give me a hug she said, “What the hell did they do to you?” From what I could gather, she didn’t like the way they had my hair or how I was dressed. My mother always had my hair brushed so every strand was in place and I was clean and nicely dressed. I guess all of their care didn’t measure up to her standards. I didn’t care about any of that, I was just glad to have my mother back. Those couple of days seemed like an eternity to me.
The next weeks and months I watched my mother as she did all the necessary baby things. She washed diapers, sterile the bottles in a huge pot and then filled them with formula. What ever she did, I was right by her side. My brother was cute. Sometimes he would laugh in his sleep, and that kind of scared me. I enjoyed having a baby brother, at least for a while.
My brother soon grew into an annoying toddler. He never wanted to play with his own toys. Instead he would constantly try to take my dolls and doll carriage away from me. He would cry and I would complain to my mother, but it was always the same, “let him play with it, he is just a baby.” Whenever we got in trouble, it was always me on the hot seat because I was “older and should know better.” However, he wasn’t so bad after he outgrew this stage.
Before long, I had to go to school. It was a big change in my life. I really didn’t like the idea and I would cry for my mother to take me back home. My mother, who is no stranger to lying, thought up a clever ruse. She told me my brother was sick and she had to go home and call the doctor. What five year old can argue with that? So off she went and there I stayed. This went on for a couple of days, maybe even a week. I don’t know how I fell for it, because I was a very smart kid at 5. I think I just blindly believed everything my mother told me. I did ask her, “Isn’t he ever going to get better?” But, eventually, my mother dropped her story and I adjusted to going to school.
My brother and I played together more than most brothers and sisters might have throughout their childhoods. We were raised in a four room, railroad apartment until we were in our twenties. We played in front of the house and in the backyard. We went to the same schools and had many of the same teachers. We’ve shared just about everything in life. We can tell each other anything. The one thing my mother always tried to instill in us is that we should always love and care for each other. She would make that speech every now and then. She told us one day she and my father wouldn’t be around and we would only have each other. We understood what she was trying to say and her prayers were answered. My brother and I love each other unconditionally and we have always been there for each other no matter what. I know he loves my girls as though they were his own. He has always been good to me and my family and he visits us nearly every Sunday afternoon to tell us a lively story or two about the pet peeves in his life.
I have tried to instill the same thing in my own girls. They are also very close. They always have been, growing up together almost the same way my brother and I did. They have gone their separate ways since hitting their twenties. College, jobs, their social lives have caused them to spend less time together, as happened with my brother and I. But they make an effort to spend time together, to share similar interests and I love it when I hear them laughing together. I know there isn’t anything they wouldn’t do for each other. I never had to give them my mother’s speech. I know nothing will come between them, just like my brother and I. And the certainty of knowing that gives me great peace of mind.