My little brother


I don’t often write things on this blog that are overly serious. I’m not a big fan of angst or public introspection. I also don’t think it’s right for me to write personal stuff about my family or friends and publish it online. I’m with you on that one, Clare Bowditch.

Today, though, I just felt really compelled to write a blog about my little brother. I hope he doesn’t mind! I figure, if Mephy Danger and Husband Bear don’t have a problem having a few little things written about them on the internets, hopefully Lil Bro won’t either.

I was just remembering a conversation I had with my dad. He told me that that my Lil Bro is “so proud of his big sister”. It was just about the best compliment anybody ever paid me, and I wanted to return it.

My little brother and I have a relationship that started out really well. When he was born (I was three), I adored him utterly. There are many photos of me staring at him, absolutely besotted. Looking at us, you wouldn’t know we were brother and sister. His hair was white-blonde and straight. Mine was dark brown and curly. My eyes were brown, too, but his were blue. He was kind of pudgy, whereas I was a skinny little runt. His skin was pale. Mine was olive. The only thing we had in common was that each of us had inherited one of my father’s two dimples. I’d got the left one. He’d got the right. We were two halves of the same whole.

As Richard got older and (finally) learned to talk (he walked before he talked. I talked before I walked. Another way we were so different), that’s when our relationship went a bit … funny. I was a solitary, kind of anti-social kid. I loved books, drawing and writing. I was happiest when I was by myself. I was shy with other kids. Adults were fine, but I didn’t know how to handle other children, my brother included.

While I was quiet, Richard was loud. I moved slowly. He moved quickly. He did everything at top speed and high volume, including his favourite pastime – annoying. Looking back now, I know his constant prodding, punching, teasing and tormenting was his way of trying to get my attention. At the time, I had no idea. I thought he had been sent on to this earth just to make my life difficult. I didn’t know how to deal with him. I tried ignoring. I tried dobbing. I tried everything including, only once, punching him in the nose. It was the one time my softly-spoken father has ever yelled at me and when I realised why he had the reputation amongst his high school students for being a window-rattler.

As time went on, I turned into a moody teenager. Richard turned into a daredevil one. There was no tree too high for him to climb. No roof to dangerous for him to clamber on to (and fall off). No street too steep for him to rollerblade down (and leave half of his skin on when he came a cropper). We still weren’t all that close. I wondered aloud to my Nan if we ever would. She assured me that all boys went through the “stage” Richard was going through and that, one day, he’d turn into a human being.

She wasn’t wrong. She never is.

By the time I was in my twenties, Richard and I went back to square one. He was still sort of hyper and I was still shy and awkward but, somehow, the edges of us that bumped up against each other now fit together perfectly. I watched proudly as he got his first job at Cradle Mountain. He stood by my husband as a groomsman at our wedding, and shocked me by shedding a tear.

As the years have gone on, I have marvelled constantly at the man my Lil Bro has become. He has gone through tough times and come out the other end stronger. His generosity and kindness constantly astounds me. Of course, he can still be hyper and annoying, but that’s just him and, I’ve learned over time that I probably annoy him, too, when I try and tell him what to do. He’s stubborn, like me. It’s one of the things we have in common. As we’ve got older I’ve learned we have many more things in common than I first thought. We still look totally dissimilar – I’ve had more than one person ask if he’s my husband – but inside, we’re not so different from each other. We’re both softies. Lil Bro is just better than me at hiding it.

So, I hope you don’t mind me posting this, Lil Bro. I just wanted to tell you how much I love you; how glad I am that you’re in my life. You are strong, handsome, kind and hard-working. You’re good to your family, your friends and your pets. You’ve been through adversity I can’t even begin to understand and I am so proud of you.

Got to stop now. Going to cry. Off to give Mephy Danger a hug. You go and find Oscar, or Leopold, or Dad, and ask them to hug you.

Unless you’re out rollerblading. In which case, for pity’s sake, don’t go down Mount Street. They’ve already had to replace one bench that had a head-shaped hole in it. I don’t think they’d be impressed if you did it again.

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