Monday, February 23, 2015



My brother is the best gift my parents have ever given me. We've each been there for the other every time we've tripped and fallen. And while the fall itself may have been horrible, what remains in my mind is the image of his hand reaching out to help me stand again. That is not to say he hasn't pestered me with his shenanigans over the years. As a child, there were times I would have sold him to the Pizza Plus delivery man for slavery, but I was never quick enough to catch him. As adults, I will tell you this tale as an example of how I handle his peskiness, and how he handles my reaction right back, and how much I love these moments oh so much!

Keith and my nephew were over yesterday, Sunday (for those of you not local, we had just gotten eight inches of snow), and when they were ready to leave, I was trying to help by getting my nephew into his coat and boots and hat. I got the latter two on him without problem. However, as ever seems to be the case with children's coats, their zippers are a challenge for adult fingers. I kept trying, and one side of the zipper would go up, but it wouldn't catch the other side of the zipper.

No matter what I tried, it always ended up all crooked, and Keith towered above, making snarky remarks about my less-than-capable mechanical skills. So I stepped aside, giving Keith or my mom the chance to zip Eli up while I went seeking my revenge for his smart-assed remarks. Not three feet away from where I had been trying to help Eli was my desk were I was going through all kinds of medical supplies left from my various home-care instances over the past year. I found my perfect weapon immediately.

Keith and my mom were standing in the family room, right near the doorway I was coming through. I grabbed a syringe filled with saline, unwrapped it, tip-toed up to the doorway where they were standing, and I got a bulls eye (truly.... it hit the edge of his right eye and bounced a bit off his bald head and got a bit in his right ear.) He was so taken off guard, the look on his face was priceless. He had a grin that read "WTF", when out of his lips came, "What the hell! What was that??"

I could have really f*c*ed with him and told him it blue dye or something else that would leave a mark, but I confirmed that it was just saline. So Keith and Eli walk out the door, and Zoe the Dog followed them. She likes to either get in the car or at least watch it leave. I was in a robe and socks, and when Zoe would not come to my calls, I had to go out, oxygen tubing following me, all the way down the path to where I could see her next to the driveway. I was freezing, but kept calling her. I can see Keith beside the car, making snowballs and throwing them in the direction of our walkway, hoping she would follow them. And slowly, she started to get closer to the house and finally came inside.

I waved Keith and Eli goodbye, and headed back to the house, trying to pull all my oxygen tubing behind me when, "SPLAT!" and the first snowball hits the ground next to me. I raced in the door and tried to pull it shut just in time for another snowball to hit "SPLAT!" on the glass part of the door, but it wasn't closing. Here I was thinking I'm safe, but as I try again to shut the door, I realize my oxygen tubing (it is 52' total) is caught in it. I was going to have to open the door again, enough to get the caught tubing free.

I opened the door enough to scream that cutting of oxygen wasn't fair, although I could breathe enough on my own for the moment. I heard no reply, so I decided it was best to just get it done, and I opened the door enough so that I could pull in the remaining 15'+ of tubing inside. As I push on the door, a snowball whizzes past my head in a perfect rotation, dropping plops of snow here and there until it hits the back wall of our bedroom hallway. At that point the tubing is all in, and thank God for it, because I was laughing so hard I could hardly breathe.  There was snow everywhere, and I was happy to clean it up because the joy of such ballyhoo far outweighed the energy it took to snow-towel.

My mom had no idea what is going on, but she was smiling at the fact that at 34 and 38, her kids could still play just like that... as kids. Keith and I were texting each other last night about our little snow scenario, and we were still laughing. Apparently, according to my mom, Keith sent her a text about how much snow people got this weekend. He went on to say that some people even got snow inside their houses. Nice, Keith..

There was a time when I couldn't imagine Keith going to college or being a dad. It just didn't seem to be what he wanted for a long time. Today, he is blessed with a wife, two boys, a step-daughter and a step-son. He had a Masters degree in Education, and he teaches middle school math and coaches basketball. I am so proud of him, and I believe he's at just the beginning of all the things that he will accomplish.

So often when I see him, he is stressed out and/or exhausted from all the directions in which he's being pulled. And there are many times when I'm in so much pain, I don't even get out of my bed to say "Hi" when he comes to visit. This past weekend, we crossed paths at the perfect time. My bronchitis not withstanding, I felt well enough to come out, and he was feeling mischievous enough to poke fun at my zipper-handicap. AND, given his mischievous mood, I felt he would tend to laugh rather than get pissed off at my saline-filled syringe blitz attack.

Our moods set the wheels in motion for what ended up being the most fun I've had with my little brother in quite awhile. Keith said that Eli was laughing like crazy from his car seat as his dad made the snowballs that were then launched at YaYa . I'm glad our grown-sibling- silliness gave Eli some giggles, as one can never have too many. My nephews are still too young to understand our family tree. It's hard to understand that their YaYa was only 3 years old when their Daddy was born. It's hard to understand that Mum Mum (my mom) is the mommy of both Daddy and YaYa, and that Apa is our dad. It's very complex, but they understand we're all connected.

To my mortification, my nephews have seen YaYa sick, and Keith has had to explain a lot of this to them. So they've seen me at my strongest and funniest, and they've seen me at my weakest, just as they've seen Daddy when he's super tired and at his most energetic and playful. My greatest hope is that Keith and I continue to enjoy our bond, and that we are an example to my nephews that being siblings is lifelong.  It doesn't ever go away. It's a gift that follows you forever. When they're old enough, I hope they'll get it. And I hope I'll see it between them. A sibling's love is like no other.

Thank you, Mom and Dad!