Oh Brother!

Today is my brothers birthday.  He’s the one next to me in line so he’s the oldest male in the family.  We are 20 months apart in age but since I was Miss SmartyPants and had to skip a grade, we were 3 grades apart.  In high school the age difference was probably the broadest as he was a freshman when I was a oh-so-cool-I-can’t-talk-to-you senior.  I mean I had my driver’s license.  Come on, how much cooler could I get?  Oh I’d deign to talk to him when I was giving him a ride to school in the mornings.  Poor guy, my extensive ministrations every morning meant we were flying to school as fast as my 1972 Chevy Nova V-8 engine could carry us.  He inevitably was sprinting across the railroad tracks from the student parking lot in a vain attempt to not be late for his first hour of class.  Whatever, he was a freshman.  They’re supposed to suffer.

Strangely enough he followed me to college and enrolled in the engineering school at Marquette my senior year.  There is an infamous story about his interview with the Dean of the engineering school that I accompanied him on.  As I’d done for most of his life, I proceeded to answer all the questions the Dean asked my brother.  At which point the Dean turned to me and oh so elegantly led me down my path of self betrayal “So, do you want to attend Marquette?” he asked.  ” Oh no sir” I replied with no little bit of condescension “I’m already enrolled here”.  He smiled and replied “then I don’t need to talk to you do I?”  The smile on my brother’s face was priceless.  Someone had finally told his sister in no uncertain terms to shut up.  Yes Virginia, miracles do happen.

As we’ve aged, the age difference has dissipated.  In fact, sometimes I think he’s more mature than I am.  He created (along with his beautiful wife) the family I’d always wanted.  He’s been the rock I’ve turned to more times than I can remember, especially these past 20 months.  He’s the one I know will drop everything when I need help.  He calls to check up on me every week and he lets me do all the talking once again.  I can honestly say, he’s more than a brother to me, he’s one of my best friends.  I’m very, very lucky to have him in my life.  Thanks Bro, and Happy Birthday.

Kid Magic

I have to be the luckiest aunt in the universe.  I am blessed with some great nieces and nephews and I’m not just saying that because they are going to have to help Aunt Pam wipe the drool off her face when she’s older and more senile than she is today.  I’ve a good mixture of genders and ages so I really get a cross section of the stages in a child’s life.  They’re all still young so there’s lots of learning and exploring to experience.  Whenever I feel stuck in a rut or down about something, I phone one of my siblings and ask for some kid time.  Let me tell you, it’s one of the greatest gifts I give to myself.  Getting down on the floor and playing make believe with some sticks and cardboard and miscellanea and coming up with a very plausible story out of it all is the best way to unlock one’s creative juices.  I even learn stuff from them.  I mean real stuff.  One of them who’s just started reading chapter books, informed me that Teddy Roosevelt was president from 1901-1909 and when pressed about accuracy, pulled out the book and pointed to the section of text where it could be found.  Remember I need irrefutable facts to believe a statement.  But I can guarantee I’ll never forget the years of TR’s presidency ever!  Kids don’t care if an audition went south or the car is acting up or whatever else ails you in the day.  Kids are immediate in every sense of the word.  Keeping me in the present and active in the conversation, not worrying about stuff that really doesn’t matter at the moment, can’t be resolved by fretting  and most likely is just mind taffy anyway.  It’s a super power they have and they don’t even know it.  But if  you look real close, you might see a few of them in capes zooming around.  I’ll be right behind them trying to shake the cobwebs off my cape.

Lean on me

My iPod contains over 3500 songs on it.  I purchased my iPod used inheriting the music already on there.  I’ve also added quite a bit of music on my own. I usually listen to podcasts when I am running, multitasking as always.  Lately I’ve started listening to music.  And not to pre-planned playlists.  I’m playing the list alphabetically, never really knowing what I will hear next.  The juxtaposition the songs afford makes me laugh sometimes.  This morning it was Beyonce/JayZ followed by My Fair Lady.  And yes, I’m usually singing along louder than I realize, as evidenced by the looks I get.

Then the classic Bill Withers song, Lean On Me, with it’s opening organ chords came on.  I was immediately transported back to my teenage years, Summertime at the swimming pool, golden couple Crash and Susie and all the really cool kids hanging about.  The radio blaring much to the disdain of the golfers teeing off on the first tee just yards away.   I’m always amazed when music takes me back.  It was like it was yesterday.

This time though I listened, really listened to the lyrics.  And they blew me away.  I’ve gone through some very challenging times recently both personally and professionally.  There were moments it seemed as if I wouldn’t endure them.  Most times I felt really alone and scared.  Still do every once in a while. Especially the scared part. Hearing those lyrics made me realize I had some amazing friends and support that I’d been leaning on pretty heavily.   I’m not good at asking for help, fairly sure my tombstone will read “I’m fine”, even worse at admitting I need help and accepting it when offered.  Swallowing my pride isn’t on my list of skills.  This time around though, I’ve been leaning on whomever will let me.  I realize the lyrics could be referencing a friend, family member, God.  Who knows?  But the fourth time I’d replayed it this morning, the first verse really stuck with me –And if we are wise, we know that there’s always tomorrow. I’ll get to tomorrow, safe in the knowledge I’m not alone.

Oh and the song that followed?  It was also by Bill Withers and was called Use Me.  But that’s an entirely different type of post for another day!