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To My Brother On His Birthday

I remember the day you graduated from high school. Standing tall in your crimson robes and squared hat, beaming, you were a sunrise, red and yellow, filled with promise and potential. That day the skies were dark but you were radiant, beaming confident, like a small sun.

Later, I sat through other graduations. And I wondered from my place in the crowd: When did he become a man? When did he stop carrying around that old stuffed animal, when did he trade in his strawberry curls for a brush-cut, when did he get muscles, all those hard lines and edges?  

I want you to know that I remember everything about our childhood: each game we played, how you always won because I was impatient, craved action, and never developed any strategy. You giggled when I was a sore loser and tossed the game pieces into the air.

I remember your wrestling stage, the time you pushed me on my stomach, sat on my back, and pulled my legs up towards my head.

“Say mercy!” you shouted, but you let me go when you realized I really couldn’t breathe.

I remember when you saved me from the boy from around the block who came asking to play Caveman and who, without even proposing, made me his wife and dragged me half  across the lawn by my hair, kicking and screaming. You were a lion that day, protective and angry. Red-faced, you shouted, “Don’t you ever touch my sister again.  Don’t you ever touch her.”

With one swipe of your seven-year old paw, it was clear.

I was older, but you were something else.

You always were.

They just didn’t know it yet.

We share secrets, and our silences sometimes go long.


I want you to know I remember you crossing the stage that day in your red robes. Facing the future fearlessly, you are there.

Contemplating a sharp September sunrise,  I am thinking of you.

Happy b’day Bro. I hope you played some tennis.

51 thoughts on “To My Brother On His Birthday

  1. Loved this bloggie <3

    1. Remember our robes? I think they put the girls in white and the boys in red. Or something.

  2. I hope my kids have this kind of childhood, and love each other in this way. 🙂

    1. We were very close growing up. I miss him now that he lives so far away! Waaaaah!

  3. This really makes me miss my brother and brings tears to my eyes. You definitely have a way with words! Xoxo

    1. I miss mine, too. He feels too far away.

  4. aww!! This is so amazing….. 🙂 Your brother sounds like an amazing dude! Happy Birthday Renée’s little bro!

    1. He is soooooo much taller than I am. I was so happy we got to spend a little time together at Tech’s bar mitzvah earlier this summer. Our schedules make it difficult to get together regularly.

  5. Absolutely beautiful. I feel the same way about my baby brother who isn’t a baby anymore. xx

    1. This growing up and moving away stuff is kinda bullshit, right?

  6. I love this, for him, for you. There is such great love and pride here. Happy Birthday to your little brother!

    1. Bellymonster! Thank you for showing up. I read your last blogpost. Since my computer crashed, I’m having to read on the phone, and signing in to Blogger ain’t easy! Such a lovely piece! Thanks for showing my bro some love.

  7. Renee, Such a beautiful and moving post! I also cherish my bro in a similar way to what you describe. What you wrote brought tears to my eyes as well.

    1. Hi Dalia. Sheesh. I don’t even know where your brother is these days. I imagine you are much farther apart geographically than my brother and me. When is the last time you all got together? It can’t be easy.

  8. Has anyone ever told you you have a way with words? Sure they have. I’m just telling you again.

    Happy birthday, Renee’s brother!

    1. Thanks Hippie. There was a bright red sunrise, and I realized it was my brother’s b’day. I have a tendency to forget because it is always right when school starts and thinks get frantic. I hope he knows I think he is awesome sauce.

  9. A beautiful tribute. Please send him a big happy birthday from Cousins Hilbert and Marlene. We don’t have his email address and there are several people with the same name, so I can’t be sure who he is on FB.

    1. He isn’t on FB. But he did read the responses, so I think he saw your kind well-wishing. 😉

  10. “When did he become a man? When did he stop carrying around that old stuffed animal, when did he trade in his strawberry curls for a brush-cut, when did he get muscles, all those hard lines and edges?” Beautiful.

    Wait…is that Sunrise, Sunset playing in the background?

    I remember celebrating all the holidays at the kids’ table with you, your bro, Laurie & Mimi and my bro. Those were the days!

    Please wish E. a very happy birthday for me.

    1. He saw the comments, so hopefully he got to see firsthand. I remember sitting at the kids’ tables with y’all, too. Good times. And great to still be in touch. Glad you made it through Isaac without incident.

  11. Someone likes red. 🙂

    1. Well, our high school colors were scarlet & white. And then he went to Cornell.


      I guess maybe not so suble, eh? 😉

    1. Love him. He’s a great husband and father. I hope he doesn’t kill me for putting his picture on the Interwebz. He is soooo not into that. He doesn’t even have a Facebook page. Notice, I didn’t even name him. 😉

  12. You may have lost the poetry on your hard drive, Renzay, but you haven’t lost it on your internal memory.

    1. Can you imagine when my internal memory blows. Then it’s really over. 😉

      Thanks Shirtsleeves. The new thang should be here in a few days. I hope. This phone thing is a drag.

  13. What a good looking brother you have. A lovely tribute to a great guy.

    1. I think he had pretty good genes. You and dad did a great job. 😉

  14. It would make me so happy if one day my daughter wrote something like this for her brother. It made me go waaaa!You have a lucky brother!

    1. So few people actually write letters anymore, it seemed like a nice way to pay tribute to my bro. Even if he is far away and we can’t be together to share cake.

      I do think it would make any mother feel like she’s done something right to have her children WANT to be together, to CHOOSE it, to CELEBRATE each other in words.

  15. Beautiful tribute to your brother. Happy birth day to your brother.

    1. Thank you, Arindam. So nice to meet you here.

      1. Same here! I am glad, I could reach to this beautiful post of yours.

  16. You’re so lovely, Renee. It sounds like you have a lovely brother, too. Can you call a man lovely? Well, too late 🙂

    1. Thanks Michelle. He is lovely. In a manly way. Very manly. So lovely in an over 6 foot kind of way. 😉

  17. Ah hah! Did we just learn where your competitive spirit hatched? Do you merrily throw all the game pieces now?? 😉

    A fantastic birthday tribute post. You have such a knack for imagery.

    1. Jules! It’s so true! My brother used to kick my ass at everything! I used to get so pissed. Maybe it’s good he lives hundreds of miles away.

  18. What a lovely birthday tribute. It really shows what a great relationship you have with him and what a good person he must be. Happy Happy to your baby bro!

    If I did a blog post about MY brother, the tone would be very very different . . . but that’s a whole other story. 😉

    1. Misty:

      Truth be told, I have wonderful memories of my brother, but I’m closer to his wife these days. He is a good person, but we rarely talk or even text. I miss those good old dys. But I’m happy he’s happy.

      I hope he’s happy.

  19. I loved this and now I am going to call all of my sisters. Sorry no brothers,but this post made me want one.

    1. Lexie! If this truly inspires you to call your sisters, I am thrilled. Somehow this is about as close as I can get to my bro these days. But I know he’d be here/there f I really needed him.

      I’m pretty sure. 🙂

  20. Awwww…I miss my brother now.

    1. I’ll be sure to tell his wife that you think so. 😉

      1. But don’t tell my husband. 😉
        I know my original comment was way inappropriate. Couldn’t help myself. Just had to say it.

        1. Not at all. I’m sure he is walking taller today. If he saw it at all. 😉

  21. I refuse to admit to tears… unless there is bacon involved.

    1. Then do not cry. There was no bacon here. Ever. 😉

      1. 😉

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