My older brother is just a little older today. Try as I might, he continues to elude me, age-wise.
And wise-wise, for that matter. It makes some sad sense that this is the guy so many have turned to when it was time to pass to the other side. He has shepherded more than his share of folks through that last little bit of life and managed them with care and dignity. It is, dare I say, a super power we might not have reckoned on when we were growing up.
Or maybe we should have. He was the point person when my parents were out for the evening. Like the one time our parents decided to ring in the new year at our cabin in the mountains. They were heading up the road a piece to have some adult beverages and company, leaving three boys in a log cabin with no electricity or running water with the admonition that we keep the fireplace and the stove stoked with wood as it was going to get cold outside. Mountain cabin in winter cold. My older brother took these words to heart, and when my parents were out the door, he set about creating a system by which we could make sure that neither of those fires went out. My younger brother and I were assigned the task of keeping the wood boxes full, while the eldest of us keep feeding the flames.
My father used to tell the story about opening the door when he came down to check on us. "Like a blast furnace," he would say. His three sons were bustling about, pajama shirts off, sweating to keep the home fires burning. No one was going to freeze on this night.
My older brother was the guy who drove me places. There were adventures in his truck that included drive-in movies and amusement parks. It was he who first suggested the phrase "let's go chug some nachos." I paid close attention to his rites of passage, knowing that his was the path that I would follow. This didn't always mean that we saw eye to eye on everything. There was some sibling rivalry on my part. Anytime I could find my way into a spot that was better, faster, bigger than my big brother, I took some quiet pride. He was mostly patient with my need to assert myself, but at the end of the day, we both knew who the big brother was.
And so it goes. Another trip around the son puts our age difference back to the four years we know nine months out of every year. I'm so very glad to have him out there in front of me, breaking the waves.