My life just got better.
My older brother Brian is moving to Florida. He says he’s moving to be near me.
Excuse me for a moment. I need a tissue. I’ve dreamed of this day for a long time.
My brother and I have had a mutual admiration society for a long time. I’ve admired his always sunny disposition; his work ethic; his ability to make, save and invest money; and his tenacious rebounding on the basketball court.
I wish my sons were as close as Brian and I am. But they are not, and seem uninterested in strengthening the familial bonds.
Excuse me for a moment. I need another tissue.
My earliest memory of my big brother involved an impromptu swim in the creek that ran alongside our property. For some reason, we had waded onto our neighbor’s property, where the water was stiller and clearer. Mr. Vawter, that neighbor, must have been gone, or we surely wouldn’t have trespassed.
I remember us splashing each other as we waded farther and farther from the creek bank. And then, I stepped into an underwater hole. I panicked, flailing my arms and kicking my legs. I was probably about 7 years old, and not much of a swimmer.
I’m sure I would have drowned if Brian, then 9, hadn’t kept a level head. He jumped into the hole, gave me a bear hug and paddled us to safety. I thrashed, yelled and swallowed water all the way.
I don’t know if I told him then, so I say it now: “Thanks Brains. You saved my life.”
His nickname fits him like a scuba diver’s wet suit. Brian was the brain. I was the free spirit. He made honor rolls. I made up the National Clown Association, a league where students were secretly awarded points for throwing things in the trash can and sharpening pencils. Bonus points were awarded for entering the classroom after the bell sounded.
Brains could have gone to college, but my parents were against higher education. They wanted him to wash windows and clean offices so he could preach from door-to-door. Naturally, Brains became the best window cleaner in Kokomo. I don’t know that he ever loved it, but he sure can make a squeegee sing. Knows his Bible, too.
Me, I followed my heart into journalism. Never made much money, but met some wonderful people and made a few indelible memories.
I was the selfish son; Brian was the responsible one.
Yet he never looked down on me, never lectured me about doing the right things.
In fact, Brains always supported me. Even when I was stupid.
I was never more stupid than the day I decided to quit my super stable job as public relations director to start a weekly sports newspaper.
Brains should have talked me out of it. Instead, he moved 50 miles to the town where I lived, bought thousands of dollars of computer equipment, rented office space, hired staff, learned how to report sports and let me play newspaper publisher.
The venture lasted nine months, cost him tens of thousands of dollars — he refuses to tell me how much — and resulted in his wife divorcing him.
He’d still be pumping money into my dream if I hadn’t wised up and pulled the plug.
I’m going to pay him back … someday. Until then, I’m determined to be the best little brother I can be.
I can’t believe he’s moving here. Where did I put that box of tissues?