If I had to put a date on the picture above, I would say it was taken in about 2001, or a decade ago, at least. My younger brother (actually older younger brother, since I have two of them) has a big part of my life from the earliest memories I have. Our exploits as kids live in the recesses of my memories, and they even get a new airing from time to time when my daughters want to hear a bedtime story about somebody other than me. The time when he wrote the f-word on one of his tennis shoes never fails to get a good laugh, from them and from me.
Today I sent him a birthday greeting on Facebook, which seems to have supplanted the annual ritual of a birthday card or a telephone call. The instant gratification of it is much better than picking out a card, finding his address wherever I have it written down, and sending in the mail a few days early to make sure it arrives on time. I could probably count on one hand how many times I was able to pull all of these off on or before his birthday. More often than not, I probably skipped it, and I regret doing that. I’m taking the time to write this to make up for some of the times I did this.
Birthdays were a funny thing when we were kids. We got to choose what we had for dinner at home that evening, and that made the day seem special. Since he, my sister and I all have June birthdays, we never got to bring anything in for our classmates at school. Only my youngest brother got to do that, since he was born in April. Lucky him.
After dinner, my grandparents would come over to our house, or sometimes we would go over to their house, for cake and ice cream. And my mother had a strange custom of putting three candles on out cake, regardless of how old we actually were. Something about the past and the present and the future. But it resulted in cake and ice cream, and how it was presented wasn’t really that important.
Birthdays haven’t been like that for us in a long time. He has his life now, and I have mine, and I see him a couple times a year if I’m lucky. But he and my sister and my other brother are with me all the time in my memories, and I’m grateful for that. So even if it’s late in the day, I still wish him a happy birthday, in the hope that the two of us will have some more of them in the years still to come.