Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Brotherly Love

Deb: I am six years older than my brother Craig, aka Egg, Eggish, Egghead, The Egg. I gave him the Egg moniker when I was around 8, further cementing myself as one of the great wits of our time. Name is Craig/call him Egg. Brilliant. Genius even. In kid world, a rhyming nickname is all we need to put ourselves on the map.
Egg, Deb, and Deb's dad, Jim
 He is my baby brother and to this six-year-old girl, he became my living doll. He was a precious toddler––all boy, as they say. He used to walk around with nothing but a dirty face and a diaper filled with Matchbox and Dinky toys. He would walk, squat, pull the little cars out of his diaper and start playing instantly. The owners of the cars would always always have the same names. Bill, Frank, Joe. “Hey, Joe, I like your car. Thanks, Frank. Here comes Bill. Hi, Bill. Hi, Joe. Hi, Frank.” After this scintillating exchange, and some good car crashes, he would pick up the cars and imaginary guys, stuff them in his diaper and he was on his way to scout another location. Precious. Cutest little thing in the world he was.

And I loved him. Adored him really.

But as with all good things, that love came with control. He was my little puppet and I was his loving but demanding puppet master. And yet, he loved it! Translation––he was too young to know what I was doing.

So we played our games. Every day. Little tiger, little lion. I was the owner of the animal and he was the tiger or lion, depending on his master’s whim. I tied a scarf around his neck and attached it to a rope and lead him around calling out instructions. “Time to eat, little lion, time to drink, little tiger, time to jump off the chesterfield, little lion, time to leap through the hoola hoop, little tiger.” And we played for hours.

I like to think I had something to do with developing his imagination, but I am sure I didn’t. The Egg was born with a vivid imagination. I remember hearing him on the landing at the top of the stairs playing with the hockey guys he had cut out of the newspaper. He assumed all roles in that game from the trumpet playing “Oh Canada” to the roar of the crowd to the comments from the coaches. He would play for hours on end and it is one of my favourtite memories.

He is creative, he is an artist, he is athletic. And all through his adult life, he has had ideas. If just one of his creative ideas had come to fruition, he would have been a billionaire. But they didn’t and he didn’t. He has a good solid job which pays him well and which he enjoys to a degree. But it was not what he envisioned for himself at all. In the meantime, he became something I never would have suspected of him. He became a devoted, loving and selfless Dad. After the party decades, I never thought I’d see the day.

I know that he had big dreams and I know he has struggled with them not coming true.
But as I watch him today I think, “Isn’t it funny how we never dream the small things––as if success in these things is not really success in life.” We never dream of being great parents who work hard to give our kids something we never had. We don’t dream of how satisfying that will be and how great the rewards. We dream of being rich or famous or hugely successful in our chosen field and we are right to dream those dreams.

But I look at my brother today, healthy, married to a loving wife, with two gorgeous kids, and I see his riches. I have such admiration for him and his devotion to his good life. I watch him become the loveliest parts of my Dad and I thank God because I know I will always have my Dad in him. But mostly I am a fan. He would never know this because in our society we tend to judge each other by what we do for a living and how glamourous it is and so he would never suspect my deep admiration. I wish it weren’t so. I wish we judged each other solely on our hearts and wits and empathy. But we don’t. Even if we mean to, we don’t. I love my brother. If his heart was measured in gold, he wouldn’t be able to stand.

To view my cute as a button brother and his loving but bossy sister, enjoy these old super 8 snippets. My bossiness knows no bounds!!! How we laugh at these in our family!

Barbara: Oh, Deb, are these ever precious!!! I have no super-8 video of my childhood, but I do remember how much we all enjoyed a good family slide show.

Yup, I was the bossy one too, as my sisters will attest (although they have claimed they liked it—not the “bossy” part so much, but the time we shared together and the love they knew I felt for them). I was forever commanding performances and directing them and making them my babies (or the Dads, because, you know, I had to be the Mom.)

But I think the emotional centre of your piece today is that part about your brother’s dreams not turning out quite the way he thought, and the value we place on abstract, professional accomplishments. I know I get caught up in that too. Not judging people on their triumphs so much as judging myself on my lack thereof. I think this whole notion is the crux on which midlife rotates. You got this far and suddenly wonder if it's far enough, or you're absolutely sure it's not. So now what? Well, the axis keeps rotating, and you keep turning with it.  And, if you're lucky, you've got a whole slew of satellites orbiting with you, reminding you of the simple beauty of ... this.

I love when you say: “I wish we judged each other solely on our hearts and wits and empathy.” And I actually wonder if in our heart of hearts this isn’t exactly how we judge people. Because so often it’s who we touch, not how we touched them, that lasts, rippling down through generations.

Oh, my heart is just warm and glowing right now! Thanks, Deb, for a beautiful testament, but also for a loving, true and profound reminder. You, too, are worth your weight in gold, my dear. Mwah!


  1. I don't have Any brothers or sisters but I do have a family friend that we named Bam(AkA:Aaron) he has been with us for a while. When he was growing up he was having a rough time so we kind of gave him a place to sleep. He is older than I am and very funny. He is I. The army so when he went away. Over seas I didn't get to see him but he would write me every chance he got. So I cAn also say he is very prectative of me. We do hang out a lot. We both pick on Each other A lot still today and I would not have It any other way. I really do love him a lot and even know he is not my real brother by blood he has been with us so long I feel like he is part of the family . I look up to him and I know o alWys will. He is a great family friend

  2. Hi Lyndsie, how wonderful that you have such a relationship in your life. They say, you can't choose your family, but in your case you did. And wisely it would seem.

  3. That sibling relationship is certainly special and like no other. I treasure the memories of my brother and I playing together when we were young, I seem to recall that we were both quite bossy from time to time.

    That's so great that you have video from your childhood I would love to see the interaction between my brother and I as kids besides in still pictures. Quite the sweet side of you making sure he blew out his birthday candles just right!

  4. Such a great story and tribute to your brother who sounds like a great guy. Loved your videos. I took all of our family's 8 mm (not even super eight) and turned them into DVD's and now we have them preserved until I have to get them into blue ray. I went from film, to beta, to vcr to dvd's over the years as each new thing comes out. Just loved today's blog as it was so special. I hardly remember my sister being that I was three years older and she was just a pain in my side. She of course remembers everything about me.

  5. Erin-two bosses! wow, don't think I could have gone for that :-) As a little sister I was making sure he blew them out just right! As a parent I think oh wow why didn't my parents stop me. Poor little guy.
    Madge I have all of ours on DVD too. My parents and I just love watching them. Of course she remembers everything about you. You were the idolized older sis.

  6. This made me smile. Now I miss my sister...who is now safely across the pond in England. I also have an older brother who I am so very proud of. He came out of some tough situations while through college but is doing better now. Thank you for reminding me to not take my siblings for granted.

    *P.S: I launched a new blog similar to this one titled "Settling in Stirling." Eventually it'll be about my Scotland trip but any and all readers of this blog are more than welcome to read, comment, or follow. Thanks :]

  7. Oh Kelly I am so glad it connected with you in a real way. And thanks for the blog tip! We are ON IT!

  8. What a delight to read your Ode to Egg. He was one of the fixtures of my formative years...Bridlewood, Chamber's cottage, Mac, and we will always have the fridge at Crock and Block (inside, truly innocent joke). I have not seen Egg in a very long time but I feel like I just did. Thanks Deb! Love to both you and your dear brother. Mo xo

  9. Maureen it is soooooo nice to hear from you. Thanks for your comments and for your lovely memories of the Egg. Fridge at the Crock and Block? How did I miss that when I worked there? :-)

  10. During the process of de-cluttering my mum's house - and I admit that some (quite a lot actually) of the clutter belongs to me and my siblings - we have found hundreds of photos and slides from our childhood.
    I've created a family photo archive and when we've de-cluttered the house and found every single photo, I intend to force siblings and mum to spend some time with me, looking at them..
    Maybe then we will convince little brother that my sister and I were never bossy :-)

  11. Helle that is fantastic. Some pizza and a bottle of wine and a night full of memories. Just make sure not to boss him around while you're watching. That would surely blow your cover. Have fun!

  12. I had three younger siblings. While I wouldn't say I was bossy (most of the time), I did have fun dressing up my youngest brother. And I have to admit a few laughs were had at his expense. Now I watch my kids. I've got three really bossy kids and two mellow, easy going kids. Sometimes the mellow kids let their siblings boss them about. However, they know how to stand on their own against the bossy siblings when they want to. It's pretty funny to watch the different personalities at work. What really gets amusing and frustrating is when the bossier kids try and play together.

    A very nice tribute to you brother and siblings everywhere.

  13. Molly I loved when you said how amusing it is to watch the bossy kids playing. Thanks.

  14. Such great sibling stories! I still have to organize my photos (if I had, I might have been able to quickly post some old photos of me and my sisters, oh well...)

  15. I've been enjoying your blog for a while now (Colin's post on Facebook brought me here a few months ago), but today's post encouraged me to share my story. I also have a little brother, who recently happened to turn 30 years old - oh my, time flies, doesn’t it! ;-) He is an independent and handsome man with this rare dry sense of humour that marks intelligence.
    We've always been close, rarely in competition, never quarrelling or fighting, always watching each other's back. As a kid he would always look up to me, seeking help and comfort, which in turn made me very protective of him. He was such an imaginative kid! He could build intricate and wonderful things with his Lego blocks, playing with them for hours on end. I remember once he combined a truck, a house and a fuel tank to come up with this magnificent helicopter with movable rotor blades! I don’t have any children yet although I’d really love to. I had a chance but I didn’t manage to pull it off alone. My ex-husband dreamt of a different life. I’m not losing hope but it’s getting harder and harder every year to keep up optimism. Although I’m quite successful in what I do and my job gives me tremendous satisfaction, my real dream is to have a family. And if I ever get that chance again, I would like my children to be like us two. Thank you for your post! I’ll be back for more. All the best from Poland, Agnieszka :-)

  16. Agnieszka please don't give up hope. I know it's not the same situation but I never gave up hope against many odds. Although we weren't able to have more, we did get one perfect lovely boy. Please keep the image of that baby you are picturing in your heart. Sending best wishes to you in Poland. Poland wow! How wonderful.

  17. Deb; I love your stories and retelling of the seemingly small bits of detail that someone might overlook and eventually how important a part of the memory that "bit" becomes. I believe that you are a rare woman who has not let your successes limit who you are in the world or what you value in your connection with others.
    Authentic - Giving - and funny as hell!!

  18. Teri how lovely of you to say. And this kind comment sends me away on my annual girl's weekend so it makes it special. For anyone who comments after this-I LOVE YA and I will respond on Sunday! Happy Canada Day to our Canadian friends and Happy Summer to the rest of the world. Be safe and have fun!

  19. At least you were only bossy, Deb and Barb. I, the eldest sibling, was apparently bossy and MEAN. Oh, how hard that is for me to believe, today. I was a bully? Gak. Thank goodness we grow up, mature, and change. I hope. Although I think my three younger siblings are still all a little afraid of me, deep down. For the life of me I can't think of any way to take advantage of that. :)

  20. What a sweet post about siblings and love. And I love the vids, Deb! Thanks to both of you for giving us a small glimpse into the treasure that is your past.

  21. Thank you, Deb, for sharing about your brother, who sounds like an awesome guy! The sibling relationship is an interesting one, isn't it?
    I have an older sister, about two years older than I am. However, she has a learning disability, and other issues. Growing up, especially in our teen years, we didn't always get along. I often felt like the older child, and sometimes still do. The truth is, though, she has been through a lot. My parents had to fight for her to be mainstreamed into "regular" classes. Now, she's a community college graduate (with a 2yr. degree), and she's a year away from receiving a 4 year degree. Considering that in her early school years, no one thought she'd graduate high school, much less make it to college, well...
    To say I'm proud of her is a major understatement. She makes me believe that anything is possible! Would I tell her that? I probably should, huh? :)

  22. Thank you, Deb, for once again providing a PDA for your family, here your brother, and for emphasizing his positives. I hope he reads this and realize how much he means to you.


  23. More great sibling stories!! Beth -- absolutely LOVE this one.

    As Deb said, she is out of commiss for the next few days, but will love reading these when she gets back!

  24. Kate that made me laugh. Bossy and mean! Dawn thanks, the thing is I am not sure he knows. I hope he does, even if it's deep down. Thanks Barb for reminding people why I would be tardy with responding. xo

  25. Deb, Thank you for sharing such a great silbing brother story. My brother Alan is 10 years younger. We are still as close and I marvel at his intellect, for I have common sense and am the artsy type. How wonderful to share this love for your brother, his family and his life.


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