Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Favorite Brother

Dan, Tim, Ken, Dad, Brian & Brad a few years back

I have 5 brothers, so it's hard for me to pinpoint one as my favorite. They each have played a role in my life, in various seasons of my life. My brother Brad is 16 years older than me, so I really don't remember much about him while growing up. I would say that he was always my favorite brother to go and visit, because my favorite memories of him were piling into the car and driving 3+ hours to Little Chute, Appleton, Wilton--the places of his early work and married life. Getting to go to another state to his wedding in Red Wing, Minnesota and celebrating my 8th birthday up there --that is another favorite memory.

Brian has always been my favorite brother for adventure. Definitely not my favorite brother to have babysit my sisters and me (vague memories of cigarette butts placed in sleeping mouths and having our hair pulled...ack!), but favorite brother for fun and adventure. Brian was the first one to show a wild, independent side (or so it seemed), to paint his bedroom black with a big white butterfly and voodoo mask on the first convertible ride in his car...the brother who gave you neat Christmas presents (Lincoln logs and a homemade sandbox) and souvenirs (colorful shells in a plaster base from his road trip to Florida). He's also my godfather, and we taught Sunday School and sang in the church choir together for a few years, so there are favorite memories there as well. Brian is my go-to brother for carpentry help or consultation, and his heart is as big as anyone's.

Ken was my favorite protector. He was my big buddy growing up, since by the time I was a preschooler and old enough to remember, he was the oldest sibling still living at home. Ken teased me, taught me funny jokes and sayings, and coveted my little bed--often taking naps with me. Eleven years older than me, Ken was the big brother I looked to for protection and rides to school. He was also a master tickler, popcorn maker, and Monopoly player.

Tim is probably everybody's favorite brother in the sense that he is a super-nice guy. Sweet, kind, patient, and slow to anger. He was (and still is) my favorite brother to work with, as he never yelled at me when I made mistakes. He taught me how to feed calves, hook a worm, catch a fish, hunt for raccoon, and whistle. We share similar stubby thumbs and a deep, quiet faith in our Lord. (Mine is not so quiet anymore, but you get the picture.) He taught me how to love dogs, especially his coon hound Robbie, who was part of our family for 16 wonderful years. Even now, Tim is the brother who shows the most warmth and care for the kids and me, always with a hug and a peck on the cheek. Uncle Tim.

Dan is my favorite brother to laugh with. I didn't think he was so funny when he picked on me growing up (eight years older), but he lightened up once he was older and focusing more on wrestling, friends, and girls. Dan can use his sarcasm, facial expressions, and weird noises to make a whole room erupt. He is definitely a people-person, which is why I think he's so successful in his career as a banker/loan officer. He and Brian tend to "team up" (and sometimes "one-up") in the joke department!

My daughters, in contrast, have only one favorite brother. Given their close ages (all are within 2 to 5 years of each other), it is no surprise that the "my favorite" feeling is fleeting and hops from sibling to sibling on any given day. The love-hate relationship between Wynne and Cy reminds me the most of my early childhood days with brother Dan, as he would tease me relentlessly just as Cy does to his baby sister.

One minute she is giggling and screaming in bliss, and the next minute she is screaming in pain or anger. Big brothers know which buttons to push.

Being younger than Ally, Cy has a different relationship with her. He really looks up to her and cares about her opinions of him (still; ask me again when they're teenagers). Cy and the twins, on the other hand, fight more than get along at this point. (I think--and hope--it's because they're only 2 1/2 years apart and at that age where they get on each other's nerves!) But being 5 1/2 years older than Wynne, there is enough of an age gap there to be a true "big brother" and still think "my little sister is pretty cute". So Cy and Wynne are, for the most part, buddies. She looks up to him and is willing to play Transformers or wrestling with him, and he gets a kick out of teaching her big (usually inappropriate) words and watching her just be a preschooler. No threats, no rivalry, just enjoyment of each other's company (until she breaks his toy or he goes too far with the teasing).

The brother-sister bond. I'm so thankful that my kids get to experience it, and I pray that they grow up to really appreciate each other. I wish I had more time to be a sister again! (Perhaps that's why I so enjoy working on our family website or making those weekend phone calls.)

I think it's okay to play long as you're willing to switch 'em up once in a while.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.--1 John 4:7-8


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