Having a pair of boys I work hard on stressing the importance of them sticking together. As they are getting older, and trips alone to the park and playing outside alone, becomes a more regular occurrence, it becomes more important that the stick together and always have each other’s back. Most of the time it works, but some days a simple trip to the park ends up with one or both of them grounded. They must be faithful to each other, especially as they enter the big world. I know I can’t be there all the time and they must learn to fight their own battles, but having their brother by their side will always give them a huge advantage.
For me, my boys’ having a strong, close and faithful relationship is paramount. I myself have a brother have a younger brother, and as much as I love him, I do wish we had a closer relationship. Going through the things we did as kids, it sometimes put us on different sides of adult arguments. When I was 10 and left to figure out how to be a man on my own, and be the “man of the house”, I know I became overbearing and overprotective of him. My brother and I are very different people and I was trying to teach him and take care of him the best I could, all while I was figuring things out on my own.
I still remember and treasure the time he asked me to help him learn how to shave. Thinking about it right now it still gives me goose bumps and brings a smile to my face. I did my best to teach him, but I was still cutting myself every time I shaved. I had to be 14 or 15, but I still remember it clearly to this date. We had many moments like that, but life takes you places and the bumps in the road can drive a wedge between brothers. I tried taking on the fatherly figure with him and I know I drove him nuts. It is one of my biggest regrets in life.
Don’t get me wrong, we get along, I love him dearly but we can also go months and months without contact. I have to admit that it makes me sad when I stop and think how long has it been since I talked to him. We always check on each other through my mom but we are literally and figuratively worlds apart.
That being said, he has always been there for me the times I have needed him the most. About four years back my wife had a heart attack, surprising for a woman her age, but a full blown heart attack none the less. Without having to ask him, he packed his stuff and Morci, his dog, and drove straight from Austin, Texas to Des Moines, Iowa. Everyone around me was hot mess. I was 32, trying to keep myself together, take care of gravely ill wife in the hospital and somehow take care of two young boys. He showed up with his laid back demeanor and helped take care of my babies. What could have been an awful memory for my boys, turned into their cool, obnoxious uncle showing up and having a fun, crazy time with them. I have told him thanks for it, but I don’t think I could ever thank my brother enough for what he did. When everything seemed bleak for me, I had faith in my brother and he more than delivered.
I want my sons to have that, on extreme cases and on an everyday basis. I am trying my best to teach them to always count on each other, to always take care of each other, and to always have each other’s backs. It is a struggle for me sometimes, being that I feel that I messed it up with my brother. So I am trying to learn from my mistakes and make their relationship a better one.
Many years from now, they will need each other for more than crossing the street, making sure no one picks on their brother and that they include each other when playing games. Many years from now, hopefully, they will have family vacations together, show up at my house for thanksgiving and talk with each other on a regular basis. I know it sounds old school and a little cliché, but I always tell him, if one of you ever gets in a fight, you better both get in a fight. It sounds like “The Godfather” advice, but life is full of challenges and fights that go way beyond the playground. I want them to have that trust and faith that no matter how trivial or how dire situations are, that they can always count on each other.
One day, many years from now they will be spreading my ashes with their hearts broken and laughing at the things their crazy old dad is making them do. I hope that on that day, they had lived close, loving, faithful lives and that they can hug, support and hold each other up. I just hope I don’t mess it up this time.