Happy Birthday, Brother!

Today is my brother’s birthday, and I want to take time to acknowledge that as far as brothers go, he’s been a terrific one. We grew up together for nearly eight years before my sister, Karen, was born. We had established such a strong bond by the time she came along, and there were so many years separating us from her, she got short shrift and felt like an only child.

Most brothers do not want their little sisters hanging around, but my brother always let me come with him when he went to play with his friends. Even if all I did was watch from the sidelines, he knew I was there, and I just liked being near him. I don’t know why we were so close because we couldn’t have been more different. He wasn’t afraid of anything, and I was afraid of everything. I liked books and music. He liked being outdoors and playing very physical sports like hockey, soccer, and rugby. Our bond had nothing to do with what we liked to do, but with whom we liked to be, and we liked being together. SCAN0962 My brother has always been protective of me, and it’s hard to find a picture of us together where his arm is not around me.

In high school, he was my date for cotillion if I didn't have one.

In high school, he was my date for cotillion if I didn’t have one.

Many times we double-dated in high school or went to parties together. I remember one night we double-dated and took separate cars. He told me not to go back to the house until he was ready to leave because my father always said, in response to our question of what time we had to come home, “Use your own discretion.” My brother felt that my father would be okay with our discretion as long as we came home at the same time. One time he paid me to stay out a little longer. I think it was only a buck…we were both cheap.

SCAN0959We went to college together at the University of Connecticut. I will always remember one treasured time with him when he had to take water samples at half-hour intervals all night long at Black Pond, a pond deep in the woods of rural Connecticut. It was for one of his ecology classes, and I think he was testing for how temperature affected bacteria count. I don’t remember; he was the science major, and I was the English major. It was a frigid March evening, and he asked me to come along for company. We sat in his little black MGB and talked and laughed until dawn. I have no memory of what we talked about, but the feeling of closeness we shared that night has never left me.

DSC_0136My brother’s beautiful red hair is white now, and I don’t think he’d be able to pick up a hockey stick anymore and play a fast-paced game, or make an incredible head-shot into the soccer goal as he did in college, earning him the name of “The Dazzler,” but when I look at him, I still see my big brother, sitting in that cold little car in the woods, making me feel warm and wanted. Happy Birthday, Mark!

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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49 Responses to Happy Birthday, Brother!

  1. Lenore Diane says:

    I love family tributes. This was wonderful. I hope Mark had a great birthday.

  2. Jiawei says:

    How many years apart are you and your brother? His protectiveness and the closeness you feel are just like my two kids. My son and daughter are 11 and 5, their relationship is very much like yours. Beautiful post!

    • Coming East says:

      Jiawei, Mark and I are a year and eleven months apart. I think it’s unusual for a brother and sister to be so close with a big age difference like your two, so that’s really great! I bet that only deepens, the older they get.

  3. Dianna says:

    PS: I tagged you in a blog challenge today. No pressure to participate, though. It was fun, but involved!

  4. beautiful post. I always wanted a big brother… DAF

  5. Huffygirl says:

    Susan, you are so lucky to have a brother like that!

  6. pattisj says:

    Happy birthday to Mark! This was such a heart-warming post, Susan. It’s nice to see siblings near in age who grow even closer as the years pass. I’m glad you and your spouses all get along so well and make the time to spend with each other.

    • Coming East says:

      Thanks, Patti. We can’t believe how blessed we are that we finally live firmly close to each other. It was so hard being separated all those years George and I were in Texas and my brother and his family were in California or New York. It is especially sweet because it comes at this time in our lives.

  7. So sweet! Happy birthday to him! How blessed you are to have each other. I am very close with my younger brother so this really spoke to me. And by the way, loving all those old photos of you–you’re gorgeous (hubba hubba)

  8. Al says:

    Love those pics! Since I have met him, please pass on my good wishes.

  9. Amy says:

    Beautiful post, Susan! Happy Birthday to your brother. Love the sweet smile on your face, the first picture.

  10. Val says:

    Lovely post, Susan, and I’m glad to see that your brother is here to still show you affection in his comments! Happy birthday to him.

  11. E.C. says:

    Happy Birthday to your Brother. He sound like a peach of a guy.
    You share such wonderful memories in this beautiful tribute to your brother. I hope he reads this. I think he would enjoy this piece of your heart as much as we do. You’re a good sister. 🙂

  12. It’s great you have so many photos ( and are good at scanning them! brava!). What a nice relationship. I’m closest to my youngest sister who is 8 years younger. My brother is 7 years younger and we’ve gotten closer as adults. My sister who is 2 years younger– we don’t get along too well. Alas.

    • Coming East says:

      What a shame you and your other sister aren’t closer because you shared so much growing up, Grandma. Mark and I are less than two years apart. I feel bad my sister was left out of so much because of her age.

  13. ingy1024 says:

    What a sweet post! Reading this gave me goose bumps because I have a daughter and son that share the same type of closeness. I don’t have any pictures of them together where their arms aren’t around each other! While they are so different from one another (she is my musical and artistic child and he’s my math/science and athletic child), they are so much the same (voices sound identical and I get asked all the time if they are twins cause they look so much alike). Reading this gave me a glimpse into their futures and made my heart 🙂

    • Coming East says:

      They sound so much like Mark and me, Ingy! I was also into music and books, and my brother would rather have been outside. I think he’s still that way. I loved to hear your story of you daughter and son. Thanks for sharing.

  14. mairedubhtx says:

    Happy Birthday to your brother. What a lovely post!

  15. notquiteold says:

    Happy Birthday to your brother. There is no relationship that comes close to the love that brothers and sisters can have for each other. Yours is very sweet indeed.

  16. Dianna says:

    Aw…what a sweet, sweet tribute to your brother. Growing up, I always wished I had an older brother to protect me and beat up the bullies on the school bus. I love the pictures of the two of you; he’s a handsome guy. And I’ll let you two determine exactly what color his hair is now!!!

  17. Mark Rich says:

    How’s your morning? You even get a mention in the responses in Susie’s blog today.

    Sent from my iPad

  18. Happy Birthday to your brother! I really enjoyed your trip down memory lane, especially the photos. No doubt your parents are beaming that you continue to have this relationship.

  19. This post is made even more special by your brother’s contribition in the comment section. I enjoyed eveey heartfelt word from both of you. 🙂

  20. You make a handsome pair. Very nice photos.
    Cotillion? I haven’t thought about that in a while. Yes, I could count on my brother to ask me to dance…so that one dance could lead to another with another. To this day he remembers how much I liked to jitter bug, and when the music is right he’ll ask me to jitter bug.

    • Coming East says:

      Wow, Georgette, jitterbug? Now that’s a word I haven’t thought about in awhile. My mother and her brother were two of the best jitterbuggers in their high school.

  21. What a wonderful story to celebrate your brother’s birthday and what a great first photo when you were kids. PS: My four brothers were some of my best friends when I was growing up and being the only girl, the middle child, they allowed me to play outdoors with them. That’s when I became a real tomboy and learned to climb the tallest tree and shoot the straightest arrow.

  22. Mark says:

    Wow! I guess you’ve finally forgiven me for that time when I broke your ceiling light and glass flew everywhere. I’m so happy that you’ve moved to Virginia and we spend entire weekends together every month instead of just Christmas vacations in San Antonio for our one visit per year. Thanks for being a great sister. Oh, And I think my hair is still reddish.

  23. What a beautiful tribute to a loving brother. Love the progression of pictures!

  24. judithhb says:

    I missed out on brothers Susan but had two great sisters. My son and daughter were very close when they were young but not so much now when they have their own families to care for. B

    • Coming East says:

      Sisters are wonderful, too, Judith. I wish Karen and I had been closer in age. My sister-in-law (Mark’s wife) and her sister are very close, and I love to see that.

  25. ark01rani says:

    Awesome post of the day. i now really miss these moments because i dont have any siblings…. 😦

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