Today is my baby brother’s birthday. He’s 28 years old and I’m shaking my head. It doesn’t seem possible that we’ve grown up so much. I can remember the day he was born. I was 6 and I stayed home from school so I could go to the hospital. I was too young at the time to realize my family doesn’t do anything in half-measures, but looking back, I shouldn’t have been so surprised.
I’d known mom looked like she was about to give birth to a horse, but that didn’t compute in my mind until I saw him. My sister (8 years older than me) and I went to the nursery to gaze at our new sibling. He was the biggest baby there. I’m not lying. When he was born, he weight 11lbs, 15oz and was 23″ long. He had this thick black hair and looked like ET. I was six, I had to try to make him seem familiar somehow!
Anyway, he was so big, everyone all over the hospital had to come to see him. (Remember Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Twins? How much bigger Arnold’s infant self was compared to Danny’s?) Well, next to the other babies, he looked massive. He didn’t fit in the infant clothes the nursery had so they had to send up to the pediatric ward to find him a gown. When I held him the first time, his body stretched from my chin to my knees.
My stepdad was in awe of what he’d made. Mom had told him he would have one shot at a son and he’d better make it good. And boy did he
My baby bro never got smaller. It didn’t hurt that he was allergic to milk so had to drink soy milk his entire developing years. When he was older, he didn’t care if he ended up with a rash, he drank milk like it was his salvation. By the way, milk really does a body good cause much later, he was struck in the chest by a steel beam and walked away with only a bruise.
His size always meant he bore the brunt of malicious attention from much older kids. When he was only four years old, he looked like he was seven or eight. When he was in school, he had to learn to defend himself against kids who thought ganging up on the big boy was fun. But it didn’t stop there. No, he had to learn to control his strength. At 3, he broke my middle finger. At 9, he broke our nephew’s leg. At 15, he broke his friend’s leg (who is currently studying to become a priest, so I fear there’s no hope for my brother’s eternal salvation). He never did any of those things on purpose, he was just big and playful. I only remind him of my broken finger once a year…okay, maybe twice.
By the time he finished growing, he was a hulking 6’2″ lad with more hair than the wolf man, a big heart, and a sick sense of humor. (My sister and I taught him well.)
So today is for my Phee-Phee Bug (nickname we torment him with). Happy Birthday, sweetie. You’re the best little big brother, a sister could have.