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Monday, September 9

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

Ryan with his son, Hunter,  @ Ocean City, MD
I grew up with two siblings--both older, one sister--Erin--and one brother--Ryan.  My sister was the oldest, I was the youngest, and my brother got the lucky middle spot.  I was envious from the beginning because with bookends like my sister and I, he was able to pretty much breeze through adolescence and all of that ugly stuff that goes along with it.  We provided amazing camouflage (you're welcome, brother).  Despite a lot of haggling and tears, I always adored and looked up to him.  Even when we were going 90 mph on I-470 in the car, albeit a bit terrified for my life, I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else.

One of my favorite parts of growing older has been watching Ryan build his family, becoming a husband and then father.  There's something particularly amazing in watching a boy become a man and most especially after being witness to the shenanigans of the teen years.  In fact, at Ryan's recent birthday, a few of his friends from high school showed up with their kids and without their wives.  That's right, these guys who used to pour out of Ryan's bedroom across the hall from mine, smelling like boys and acting like boys, showed up and were in charge of children.  The great part?  All of them, including my brother, have become super loving and attentive fathers.  Had you asked me to predict that a couple of decades ago, I probably would have had a good laugh.  Even more, Ryan and his wife have provided the brightest lights of my life--my niece, Sydni, and nephew, Hunter.  This family descends and suddenly life, and my heart, grow very full.

Reminiscing about the now "way back" years and remembering how terribly we fought, it's endearing to me that with age we've both naturally grown to deeply care about one another and one another's well being.  I would have never imagined I would be able to include my brother in the "who to call if something goes wrong" circle.  But, the truth is, he's the first I think of and becoming the one I call more and more often.  Now that I'm a homeowner, he also gets more project calls--like the most recent request to be my tree hole digging co-pilot (my "pilot" role consisted of standing close and tossing loose dirt back into said hole).

Life has an extremely funny way of reminding us what it's all about.  So, the next time you're bickering with a family member, thinking it's your way or the highway, just remember that they're meant to be part of your beauty.  That's their purpose, and they were gifted to you.  This is a powerful thought and a good one on which to hold tight.

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