Saturday, December 5, 2009

To my brother, who now reads this blog

Yes, that's right, this one is for you.
My brother whom I'm going to call G.I. Joe (Maybe just Joe, it's faster to type) for our purposes here, is a complicated individual.
I always find it difficult to explain him to people who don't already know him. He's a very smart guy who usually didn't do very well in school. He's a studious guy who couldn't ever get his homework done but spent hours reading the Illiad just for fun. He's a funny guy but you might not want to meet him in a dark alley. He's both a Doberman and a kitten, but you never really know which one you're going to get.
He's returning soon from his third tour in Iraq. I am so proud of him for his service and I'm so glad that thus far he has come through unscathed. I'm also glad that the army has been a place for him to find success. He's always been a tough person to peg. He doesn't fit in the usual boxes that we assign people. When he was little, they put him in special ed but he was smarter than everyone else there. They put him in the regular class and he couldn't keep up. I'm glad he's found a place that fits him.
The last time we saw each other, I was pregnant with the Tyke and the Pudding was just barely two. We were at my mom's house and Joe took the pudding out in this little inflatable boat on the pond. I was so worried because she was so little. She sat there by his feet (his feet came up to her shoulders) and just looked around at the water and at Joe. He was so gentle with her. I couldn't hear every word but I could hear his tone. It sounded like he was very patiently and quietly pointing things out for her to look at and telling her about them. She still remembers that boat ride a year and a half later.
I remember other things about Joe that aren't so nice. I know he has a mean streak that is pretty easy to find. I know he can be violent and erratic and childish which makes his gentleness all the more amazing.
When Joe, the Bear (our youngest brother, he knows how he got that name) and I were all little kids, we had a rough ride. We saw our parents marriage fall apart, felt the violence and anger that came from that. We lost a brother, the Bear's twin, at only 4 months old. We did the divorced kid shuffle and learned to live as brother and sister with people who were not our brother or sisters and were asked to call someone mom who was not mom. We did all these things together and only we know how we got through them and lived to tell the tale, or not.
That is the great thing about having siblings, the thing that an only child has a hard time understanding. We have someone who went through the same hardships, the same ups and downs, the same weirdness from parents. While we may not have experienced it all the same, but we know on a biological level that we are the same. We are different branches of the same tree. Whether at Mom's house or Dad's house, we had each other as a constant. We know why we became the people we are.
Anyway, this is for my brother Joe. From one branch of the tree to the other, I'm glad you're who you are.

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