My brother, Jim, returned home today. So now he is 1200 miles away instead of only a few. He stops in for a visit whenever he comes north on business; I love to cook for him. And most of the time I make food he can actually eat.
The last time he was here, I was so proud of the delicious chili verde I had made. A nice pork dish. Only, just as we all were about to take a spoonful, “Oh <expletive deleted>, don’t eat that!” I realized just in time that I had used chicken stock as the base, something my brother can not eat. His reply? “I didn’t know you used those words. I guess when we were kids you were listening to Dad in the basement too.” He was so gracious, and happily ate the quesadillas I made for him, while the rest of us ate soup. This trip I managed to cook him a whole meal without poisoning him: spare ribs, corn on the cob, and coleslaw.
With the economic downturn and all, his company pretty much put a halt on business travel. Jim said it’d been four years since they’d sent him up here. He’s come north with his family a few times since then, and I’ve seen him: Mom’s 80th birthday, PopPop’s 100th(!), PopPop’s funeral; just not in my neck of the woods.
It’s just the two of us siblings, and we’ve always gotten along pretty well. I’m sure we had our spats – you can’t live in the same house with someone for 15-16 years without a disagreement now and then. But I don’t remember them. (Maybe it’s because I’m the baby sister, and I was the one being annoying.) Since we’re three years apart we had different circles of friends. Still, I have many fond memories of playing together on the “matchbox hill” – which was a pile of dirt in the back yard left over from the house construction. A myriad of roads and dwellings were carved out with tiny bulldozers on that hill. We protested mightily when Mom had it removed to make way for a patio, even though we hadn’t played on it for years.
Jim is one of the hardest working people I know. He’s had one job or another since he was twelve. And he can fix any mechanical gizmo on the planet. I remember the day a big, burly biker came riding down our driveway so my high-school aged brother could fix his hog. If I recall, Mom told me to stay in my room.
Growing up I was the “student” and the “active” one – but he’s the one who’s earned two degrees (the second one while working full time and raising a young family) and spends his leisure time hiking all over creation geocaching, while I sit here getting fatter by the minute with my high school diploma and technical certificate.
Do I give the impression that I admire my brother? He’s hard headed, er… strong; a family man, who, by the way, married an amazing woman; a faithful servant at his church; a loyal friend. I give no apologies if those virtues sound old fashioned. He’s an amazing guy.