First let me say, bro, that even though I had begged Mom for a little sister, I never had a moment of disappointment when she brought home my first scrawny little brother in June of 1952. I wanted to be a big sister so much, it didn’t matter what parts were in the diaper once I had a baby to coo at. They all look pretty much alike at that stage, anyway!
So there I was, four years and ten months old in the esteemed role I’d been born to. Or so I believed. I may have made a few errors along the way, and since it’s your birthday, I figured maybe I owed you an apology or two. Ahem…
For sticking you with a pin when I sneaked in to change your diaper, I’m sorry. I really just wanted to help my little brother out of a messy situation, but dang if those old safety pins weren’t harder to handle than I thought. Those old cloth diapers were really complicated, too, let me tell ya! You had to fold them differently depending on the plumbing!
For knocking you off the porch & tossing you into the bushes while you slept in your carriage, I’m awfully sorry. Mom tells me it was you, not Dave, as I remembered it. But I was barely five, and you guys looked a lot alike! It was such a cool carriage with springs & big wheels. Who could resist rocking it? I just wanted to sing you a song & give you a little rock & roll. Who knew it could roll off the little porch & flip over, throwing you into the bushes? Oops. But trust me, bro, you survived just fine & I got a proper tanning!
For pushing you out of the hayloft at cousin Lowell’s when you were 5 years old, boy oh boy, was that an error in judgment! I was just sure you’d love flying down into that hay wagon below. Whew…BIG mistake! Really, really sorry about that “ride”! Guess I could’ve asked you if you wanted to leap off the edge of the loft as we sat dangling our feet, but the urge to give you a big surprise just sort of overwhelmed me in the moment, even though I was ten and “should’ve known better”. It looked like it would be fun. I’d seen it done in cartoons! I guess it’s the same logic that prompted me to jump out my second story bedroom window when I was fifteen onto a thin mattress below. Of course, as you recall, I sort of chickened out, & Davey took it upon himself to give me a little push to help move the excitement along. YIKES! No wonder you looked so gleeful then! But I am truly, deeply sorry abt that hayloft incident & scaring the bejeesus out of you. Mercifully, you weren’t physically hurt. Traumatized a bit, though! As Mom shouted at me later while she tore the switch off a nearby tree in one of the rare times I actually got switched, “What if there had been a pitchfork in the wagon??!!!!” Ohmygod, Steve, that thought scared me so badly, I really didn’t need the switching, but Mom felt, justifiably, like she had to make sure I got the severity of my error. And, boy, I sure got it! (ow)
And then there’s the infamous incident in which I used you to “scare” the big bullies away. I know you were only six and I was eleven, but we were about the same size. And these mean boys were bigger than I was, even though they were probably younger! So as they blocked my path on my way home, taunting me and laughing menacingly, I just blurted out the first words that popped into my frightened little head. “I’m gonna get my big brother!” They acted all mock scared, going, “Ooooh… “Get your big brother”… I’m so scared… hahahahahah!” I was almost home, so they told me go ahead and bring him. And then they waited in the street outside our house! Geez, I had to produce a “big brother!” Remember how I coached you to stand up real tall and stick out your chest and act tough? Well, Steve, you did a pretty good imitation of a tough guy for a first grader! I tried to slump down to emphasize how big you were, and we marched out there to confront these bozos. I remember how they crumpled into fits of laughter and kept saying “Oooh, I’m so scared. Your ‘big brother’! Baahaaahaaa!” But when they ran off laughing their young asses off, I felt totally gratified. We pulled it off! I was so proud of my “big brother”. What a coup! Luckily for both of us, these doofs weren’t seriously mean kids, and I don’t think they came around again. But in retrospect, it probably wasn’t the smartest way to handle the situation. Sorry about putting your young life in danger, but you sure rose to the role of “protector” with all the ferocity a sweet little brother could muster! Thanks, Stevie!
Of course, we had a lot of awesome times that didn’t jeopardize your safety. Remember when we spent all day digging a swimming pool in the backyard while Mom & Dad were out of town? Poor Granny thought we were innocently playing under the kitchen window and couldn’t really see the “surprise” we were building. I bet we dug a couple of feet deep and at least three feet long that day…with silverware! We were so excited about how awesome it would be to have our own swimming pool! Again, science didn’t figure in. I never thought of how the pool gets lined with concrete or drains or any trivial details. A hole in the ground with water from our hose oughta do it. I could swear I’d seen it done in cartoons! When Mom & Dad got home, we proudly led them to the backyard to see the fruit of our labors. Oopsie. Dad about blew a gasket, and Mom thought my grasp of science & engineering should be more advanced at my age. Wrong, Mom. Sorry. But at least, YOU didn’t get spanked for that error in my judgment! And when the old house was for sale a few years ago, I went by and saw evidence under the kitchen window. The ground sinks a little there about the length of a sunken swimming pool dream. Awesome!
Remember how I sneaked you off on the first day of school and signed you up for kindergarten, even though Mom hadn’t planned to send you? I’d waited five years to have a sibling in school with me and wasn’t about to blow my only chance! Can you imagine them letting a sixth grade sibling sign all the paperwork today?!
And there were all those great Christmas Eve shows that I wrangled you and Dave and Donna into doing with me for the grown-ups. Your WERE having FUN, weren’t you?!
Steve, despite the time your mechanical tendencies kicked in and you totally dismantled my beloved blue bicycle, only to discover you hadn’t mastered the art of re-building it, you have always been a fabulous brother. You’ve fixed so many cars for us over the years, I guess it sorta makes up for the demise of my bike. *sniff* And you’re the only one who made me an aunt, a role I loved as much as being a big sister! So while I’m saying my mea culpas for all the times I may not have been the wisest of big sisters, I also want to say thank you for the innumerable times you’ve been there for me like a “big brother”. It’s been wild ride, but I’m forever grateful to have had you along, screaming with me the whole way!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STEVE!
PS. Dun’t fuhgut ut wuz us thut unvuntud the Sucrut Lungwudge, und wuh thught wuh wuz suh cluhvuh! Huhuhuh! Uh love yuh, luttle, bruh!