Life has afforded me the opportunity for plenty of regret. And I have the personality type that tends to roll around in them too, if I'm not too careful.
In the smallest of hours a thought pulled me out
Of perfect, numbing, ordinary dreams
It pulled me from the deep
Restless, a pressure and tension had grown
A question of purpose shook my heart of stone:
What if after all of this, my life should come up short in the final scales?
Should I wait for time to tell?
For the longing and sorrow I know to be true –
What have I offered but the portion of fools?
Detached; indifferent; and safe behind this jaded heart of mine.
Dear Lord, what happened to the time?
-- Stavesacre in the song Fear And Love
All of these things, over time, end up on a scale in my mind.
At the bottom of the scale are "things that I wish I had done differently, but hey, no big deal". I just see that it might have been better to choose a different route, but nothing to get upset about.
But at the top of the scale? Man. Those are the things that haunt me.
And there is no way I'm going to go into a bunch of them here. But one has been on my mind almost my whole life.
It's not really something I've done wrong, and although that category pretty much covers most of the things that wake me up or keep me awake, this other one is also way up there on my list of regrets.
I have a Younger Brother that I feel I barely even know.
I was seven years old when he was born, and this put us just far enough apart to never have been on the same wavelength while we both were growing up.
The Younger Brother that I know best, is a 14 year old boy from 1984.
Which, at one level is cool, but that was 22 years ago. My problem is that he's now a 36 year old man that I don't know very well.
Somehow, over the years, I was able to develop good, adult relationships with both parents and my Big Sis and Big Brother, but like I said, the only Younger Brother I know well no longer exists. I am totally at peace with loved ones who have passed away, I had the great blessings of knowing them all as an adult. They are not distant fuzzy memories from having lost them while I was a child.
And please don't misunderstand me; I have a good relationship with him. I just haven't been able to have the quality time with him that I did with other members of my family.
Younger Brother was still at home when I married and moved away to Florida for the first time. And over the years, while we have kept up and visited when we could, I've never lived in the same place as him while adults, and gotten to know him better. That is easily one of my greatest regrets of my life.
I know this will sound totally weird and you might not belive me, but I have felt responsible for Younger Brother since the day they brought him home from the hospital. And I was 7 at the time. I had the exact same feeling of heaviness and responsibility when I was 7 and he was an infant, that I do right now when I think of things like doing right by my wife and daughters, or when I think of trying to get ahead on our bills and other pressures life throws at all of us.
So, somehow, somewhere, ever since I was young, I have felt a burden of responsibility for him that I cannot explain. It's just there. Pretty much always has been.
I've told stories here about Big Sis and some about Big Brother, but very little about Younger Brother.
He's easily one of the funniest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, friend or family, in my life. His sense of humor is super sharp, and he thinks of the funniest things in any situation. I'm pretty quick, if I do say so myself, with comebacks and smart aleck remarks when joking around, but compared to him, I'm single-A, a semi-pro, while he is a big-league slugger at it.
Our family was always one to make fun of one another, and we always knew the poking and kidding was in fun. I don't remember ever being offended by anyone in my family and because of that, even now, it is all but impossible to offend me.
You can say whatever you want, but I don't have to take offense at it. Once the words leave your mouth, it's up to me as to how I will deal with it.
But Younger Brother is by far the quickest and sharpest wit in the family. His wry comments and sidelong way of looking at the world and the people in it, and the way we act, is priceless. He was this way, even as a child.
I remember being in awe of his imagination when he was still pretty little.
He had characters that he would 'go into' and you would address him as that character.
One character was Mr. Sam. Mr. Sam was a cowboy, a gunslinger of some note. We could all be sitting in the den watching TV and you would hear something and look over, and all you would see was a little hand and a toy cap gun pointing in your general direction from just around the corner in the next room. My Dad would cry out, "Oh No! It's Mr. Sam!" and we would all join in, trying to deal with Mr. Sam. After all, he was the one with the gun. Sometimes we survived the encounter, sometimes not. It all depended on whether or not Mr. Sam thought we needed killin' that day. Younger Brother had a little straw cowboy hat and everything.
But sometimes, he would show up with a little football and have on a play football helmet (he called it a HED-e-ment) that was about 5 sizes too big. We knew at these times we were dealing with gridiron star Teeny Robertson. And he would act like a star and everything. Teeny tended to show up while we were watching football, and while our game played out on TV, Teeny would start running from one corner of the den to the other and throw the football up in the air in a forward pass to none other than himself. We got used to watching football this way but it drove visitors trying to watch a game with us crazy.
And Younger Brother made up all of these names himself, too.
He would make faces for everyone, on cue.
All kinds of funny kid stuff.
One good thing about him being so young, was that he was our very first remote control. I can't remember when we finally got a TV with an electronic remote control but up until then, Younger Brother was our analog remote control.
Thing is, he still has this wonderful sense of humor. Can't talk to him, even by phone without his skewed outlook on the world causing him to say something that will crack me up. I guess if he still has it at 36, it's safe to say he won't lose it.
And that's ok with me.
But I sure would like to live close enough one day, for us to spend some time together.
Life is too short for me to not know my own brother as well as I would like.
And although he knows I have this blog, I have no idea whether or not he reads it. So Mark, if you're still out there, I love you Dude. Give Chester a pat on the head and an extra Pupperoni for me, ok?
And forgive me for that last picture, the one with the sombrero and all.