April 7, 2013: Happy Birthday, Brother


My brothers ~ Mark (L) and Matt (R) ~ 1986
I am a sister. I wear that like a badge. My brothers have been a part of me and a part of my identity. People would know us collectively by our names; Matt, Mark, and Sandy. There wasn't one without the other. Each born a year apart, we were a troupe of three.

Gma Gib actually mixed the boys up
It's Matt on the left and Mark on the right
Mark is the middle child. Although there are some perceived stereotypes with this birth order, none of us three ever fell into our noted roles. I always racked this up to our closeness in age. Birth order was irrelevant since we always felt the same age. Just a troupe of three. In fact Matt and Mark are less than eleven months apart. They were dressed as twins until they were old enough to tell our mom to stop.

I like to write stories about my brothers' oppression towards me. Although the stories are true, I actually liked being the girl among boys. And my brothers were everything boy. They loved guns and mud. Fights ended with wrestling matches and fists. Our toy room was filled with Legos, John Deere tractors, and trucks. They cut all my dolls' hair off (other than the precious few I hid) and took my jewelry box apart to see how it worked.

My brothers built forts and made up games with sticks. They almost always invited me to join along. My best friend growing up had three brothers and no sisters. As I look back, this is a common theme with me. Many of  my closest friends only have brothers. We speak the same language. And we're survivors. I also believe this has provided me with many life lessons in dealing with men. I will keep those thoughts in my personal arsenal. Thanks, Mark and Matt. I have been told I have a quick tongue. This was a learned trait as it was many times my only defense mechanism against my brothers. Giving each other a hard time is the favored language among us siblings.

As teenagers, we had the perceived benefit of going to the same high school together for three of those years. My cool brothers banned me from speaking to them or acknowledging them as brothers. I complied as we were then fighting over bigger issues than whose turn it was to play with the remote-controlled snow mobiles. At one point my mom cried as she listened to her teenager children bicker with strong words. "You kids will never speak to each other again once you are out of the house!" she sobbed. Fortunately her prediction proved to be untrue.

One by one we graduated. Matt left for the Army. I would talk to him on a tape recorder, as was our family tradition, or send him a letter weekly. Mark moved to Arizona to begin his career in woodworking. I missed my brothers. Home alone, it only took a year after my departure for college for my parents to move to Arizona and out of Remsen. The house felt so quiet my senior year with me as an only child. I can't imagine how it felt to my parents after their busy youngest left as well.

Now I have the benefit of living in the same city with Matt. This never happened with Mark. His journey has taken him to Arizona, Florida, and Nevada. But somehow, someway, we have remained close over all these years. When we get together, it's although we've never been apart. Mark recently moved to Dallas and I just booked a flight to visit in a few weeks. Today is Mark's birthday, so it will be a bit of a belated birthday celebration. Happy Birthday, Brother...your siblings in Omaha miss you!!











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