I happen to have the best older brother known to mankind. I know, you may disagree- you will tell me about your older brother, or your best friends older brother, or that one guy in high school whom you had a crush on partly based on his treatment to his younger siblings. I’m sure they’re awesome. But my brother willed me into existence. I’d like to see any of your people top that.
The story goes something like this: Sometime in his 4th or 5th year of life my brother decided he wanted a little sister. My mother was not in any kind of position to have children physically, but my brother being a kid, he didn’t quite grasp that and went ahead and prayed for it anyway. He prayed for it in the morning, and during meal times, and at night before he went to bed- this little sister he really wanted. Every time this story is mentioned to me (at least once a year, days before my birthday) the tone of amazement in my mothers voice is the same- she did end up pregnant. In complete disbelief, she went to very calmly give the news to my little brother, who exclaimed that it was, indeed, his little sister.
As a child I worshiped my brother- he was heroic, and taller than me, and he let me borrow his T-shirts that were much too big. When I would cry he’d calmly ask the reason why and seek to resolve it: Scrapped knee? He’d play with me. Bully? He’d ask who it had been and much afterwards explain that I would not need to worry about said person again. He introduced me to Thundercats, and Astroboy and He-Man, and never whined about having to sit through Care Bears, or Rainbow Brite. So many of the good and happy memories of my childhood have him as the leading man: Waiting by the door when we heard rain to see if our mother would let us out to play, swimming in the beach, dancing cha-cha on his birthday at midnight. Thorough out most of my childhood I was known as “Aaron’s little sister” in school, in our neighborhood, in church circles. I remember the happy feeling that would creep into me when someone would associate me with him. Aaron made the world a safer, kinder, and happier place for me.
As a teenager I started to see the struggle of my friends in their family relationships, and in some cases I’d hear about their ‘stupid brother’. I am happy to say that I never understood that, and at the time I couldn’t understand how amazing it was that I didn’t; that I had a brother who’d give me piggy back rides across huge puddles of water, who’d take me to watch chick-flicks regularly, who had binge movie marathons with me (The Matrix, Amelie), who tolerated my obsession with particular bands and once, in an act so magnanimous that he should win some royal title, my football playing, good looking, cool-as-all-get-out brother went to ask the Hanson boys for an autograph on my behalf because I was petrified in my nerdiness at the sight of my teenage crushes. He’d listen to me wax poetic about The Beatles (An idolization he’s never understood), and let me listen to them in between rock out session of Queen and Guns N’ Roses in his beloved ’78 Mustang.
Being 6 years apart meant that he had the advantage by quite a large margin, but it never felt like an issue. Sure, sometimes he teased (remember my bangs Aaron?), and we would disagree, but he was always a safe person for me. Socially, we could not be further apart; he was the high school varsity football player, popular and good looking with social graces on par with this uncanny genius to just understand things. Aaron really didn’t need the instruction manual- he could build things with his hands. I worked at a movie theater he’d been previously employed in, and one of his legendary acts managed to make it back to me- there had been a showing where their 500k+ projector had failed, and unable to reach their technician, with only 30 minutes before show time, my brother took the thing apart and fixed it like it was no thing. He just knew how, apparently.
And that’s the thing with Aaron- he just seems to know things. He knows how to distinguish Chanel amidst other perfumes, he knows how to make a swing set, and fix a car, and cook a fish and clean a carpet. The man is a world of knowledge, and the best part is that he’s not snobby about it. One of the many, many things I love about my brother is his ability to stay humble and take correction. I was always lippy with our mom, but Aaron would just listen and apologize. Still, for all his intelligence, sometimes naivete will show itself on him. Recently he spoke about a meeting where he’d stood next to a girl who was 22, and the thought occurred to him that his little sister wasn’t a little girl anymore. I thought it was a sweet reference to our youngest sister until he finished the phrase with “Azul’s all grown up”.
Just between us though, I don’t mind being Aaron’s little sister.
Happy Birthday cub.