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. 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.

  1. 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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. “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. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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