It was observed, not so much the day but the idea. My younger brother is turning fifty. The mathematics of this sentence is pretty evident. My younger brother is turning fifty, therefore I must be older than that. That means the last of Mrs. Caven's boys has crossed the half century mark. It is an interesting time. We noted that our father, Mr. Caven, had been a grownup for a lot longer when he hit the big five-oh. He had put three sons through high school, with one graduated from college and another slowly finding his way. The youngest one was looking for a career in business. He was the one driving the sports car. He was the one making money. My parents must have been so proud.
Thirty-plus years later, the business man is an artist, the artist turns out to be a teacher, and the big brother is about to retire from a career in law enforcement that spans as many years. Life, I am reminded once again by John Lennon, is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans. That plan for my younger brother's observed birthday was simple: start with some lunch, and see what spirals out from there. We did the lunch, and had some ice cream after, and then came back to my house where there were presents and the potential of more fun. In this particular case, the case that he had dragged with him from his home across the bay, there was collage. We took a heap of magazines and calendar pages and scraps of otherwise recyclable material and made art. It was a very calming way to spend a Sunday afternoon. We sat on the deck in our back yard and cut pictures and patterns and glued them into place. Carefully, but not exactly. There would be no grade on this, jut experience points.
When we were done, we were done. We cleaned up the detritus and listened to a story, written by Dave Eggers and read to us by the young one. The younger one. Then we took our work inside to dry. Then it was couch time. We sat and talked the way that fifty years of knowing someone allows you to. Big pauses. Big laughs. We even found a place for a few big ideas somewhere in there. Mostly about growing older and how we could recognize it. It wasn't an aches and pains discussion, it was more about how we move through life. I mentioned that it was starting to get dark and how that has always given me pause on a Sunday evening. The dread of Monday morning was something I have always felt, and it made me feel better to say it out loud to my brother who just happens to be old enough to understand such things.