Friday, November 12, 2010
My brother and I were not a lot alike. As a matter of fact, the Dallas Morning News once did a story featuring siblings with few similarities, and we were one example. But we always had fun together. My brother was a fun-loving guy with a great sense of humor. He was a gentle giant—he looked intimidating, but deep down he was a softie. He was my protector in so many ways—he may not have understood why I chose to do things I did, but he was always one of the first to stand up for me if he sensed I was in trouble.
When he died, a piece of my childhood died with him. My two other brothers and I can share some stories, but Fred was the closest to me in age and we shared memories the other two only heard about. He remembered the time we lived in New York, the house we lived in, the pets we had, the tree we climbed.
Fred died on the day I found out I was pregnant with T. It was an emotional day, to say the least. I moved from the jubilation of finding out we were going to welcome a new life to finding out about the end of another. My OB told me that she sees it all the time—a close family member dies and a new one is born.
I tell my kids about their “Tio Fred” and the things we did as kids. During the holidays, my brothers and I will share stories that we feel our parents are now mellow enough to hear. (Or at least we’re old enough not to get in trouble for them!) My kids understand that Tio Fred is in heaven and that they will never meet him in person here on earth.
Secretly I’ve always imagined that he is my kids’ guardian angel—watching over them and protecting them in the way he would have in life. My kids have missed out on someone very special—an uncle who would have delighted in them. I look through old albums and see pictures of Fred with other kids, and a part of me is jealous that those kids got that part of him, and mine didn’t.
Fred’s death really helped me appreciate the blessing of having siblings. Siblings are the friends you are forced to have as children, and are blessed to have as adults. I really miss the big guy.