To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time. ~Clara Ortega
The dynamics of family are certainly interesting, to put it mildly. The dynamics of my relationship with my brother and his relationship with me were, at least to my thinking, unique. My brother and I were both close and far apart. A strange dichotomy, to be sure – distant, yet somehow near. Now, as the distance lengthens, so does the nearness of the memories that we shared.
Gone are the days of wild adventures while being babysat by my big brother (I could write a book on his babysitting alone). Gone are the days of cruising with him and his girlfriends (as a pint-sized chaperone) to the A & W Drive-in for a frosty mug of root beer. Gone are the days of Snakes and Sea Creatures getting loose in the backyard much to the horror of our Mom. Gone are the days of building foxholes and booby traps for War games in the field behind the church on 237th Street. Gone are the days of playing Monopoly, Mastermind and Trivial Pursuit together. Yes, those days are gone forever, but they are not forgotten. They have been relived again and again in my mind for the past week.
I can still hear Mike’s voice. I can still hear Mike’s laugh, also. I can’t even imitate it, (I’ve tried), but I can definitely hear it. It was a part sardonic, part amusement, low-pitched, semi-growled and semi-grunted, bawdily-tinged laugh that was uniquely all his own. It almost always caused me to laugh. In fact, when we were together, I think he liked to "crack-wise," (real old-school term!), just to try and make me laugh. I’m smiling now as I think about it.
I appreciate the smiles and the laughter that Mike brought to me. It just all ended too soon. Unfortunately for me, the time has come that I have to say farewell. I will always love him. He remains embedded in my heart, my mind and my memories. He truly was his own person. He was smart, interesting, and one-of-a-kind.
He was my brother. He was my friend.
Blessed is the servant who loves his brother as much when he is sick and useless as when he is well and can be of service to him. And blessed is he who loves his brother as well when he is afar off as when he is by his side, and who would say nothing behind his back he might not, in love, say before his face. ~St Francis of Assisi