Today is your birthday. I wish we could celebrate, but we can’t. You left us a couple years ago for your Heavenly home. But there is no way that we cannot, will not remember you my brother. I miss you, we all miss you. You often come up in conversations, your presence in our lives was strong before you left, and is no less strong now. You live on in the lives of your children and grandchildren. You live on in our hearts and memories.
I don’t know how birthdays are celebrated in Heaven. Whether one’s day of Earthly birth is recognized or whether your arrival home in Heaven is celebrated more, or maybe both. As it is, I can’t bring you a card, I can’t tease you about growing old even though I am the first born of the family. I can’t do much but remember, miss you now, and look forward to the day we are all reunited.
As children growing up here we had the most fun, because we created it ourselves. Kevin (other brother) and I were talking just the other day about that. Back then we were on the lower side of middle class, but we didn’t know we were poor. While there wasn’t an abundance of money flowing in the family, we were wealthy in more important ways. If love could be measured in dollars, we were rich beyond measure.
The couple of times we lived away from here pale in comparison. We lived in Florida where you banged your head on the bottom of the mobile home we lived in while we were watching a rocket heading for space from Cape Kennedy (now Cape Canaveral). You needed a few stitches for that move. There was the time at the beach when I wanted to join the big kids and you followed. In the process you stepped on and ended up with a vicious wound in your leg from a sting ray. Mom still blames me for that one. When we lived in that rented mobile home at the edge of a pasture filled with cows. The dirt drive weaving in among the trees and Spanish Moss where dad and a neighbor had to find and trap and raccoon that had bitten the neighbor’s son. At least this time it wasn’t you.
Home though, here is where the real life and adventures happened. There simply isn’t enough words to share the memories. For so long just the three of us we created some interesting methods and rules to the various sports so we could play. Well, we created our own adventures aside from known sports. Nothing that other kids haven’t done as well, but these were our adventures. Climbing to the tops of those pine trees to survey the world around us. Pirates in the crows nest, explorers seeking new lands, Tarzan wannabe’s as we crossed from tree to tree among the branches. Mom was not happy about all that pine sap but that wasn’t among our list of cares.
Riding our bikes along the dirt road without concern. At the time there was only four families here. Our imaginations and creations were boundless, fed and encouraged by our parents and grandparents. Grandpa brought home the most amazing finds, and helped turn ordinary into extraordinary. We were that generation that drank from the garden hose, we didn’t have street lights, we simply knew to be home by dark. We built trails in the woods, learning how to keep an eye out for the reptiles that lived there. We learned how and helped every year in Grandma and Grandpa’s garden. And oh how they could grow a garden. We helped plant, harvest and to a point, helped can and store the harvest to continue enjoying the produce through the winter.
We didn’t have fancy, we had fun. When dad cleared that area beside the house we climbed on the trees cut down. Then we built a small softball field. It is true, when you build it, they will come. We met a lot of new friends and neighbors from off the dirt road who came and joined in the games.
But youth only lasts so long. It seems that we went from being kids to adults in the blink of an eye.
You were there for me many times in my hour of need. You were there to tease and torment as only a brother can. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I saw the look in your eyes. The expression of sadness and even fear that was there before you turned away. You made sure I knew to wear hunter’s orange during hunting season. You showed me deer and owl in the woods. You helped me learn how to walk more quietly so I would find more on my own. So much you did for me. So much you did for all of us. You created a parking place for that big truck my husband drove making it easier and safer for him to come home. You preferred working on those big rigs, but you helped take care of family cars. You helped rescue me from that seriously long rat snake that found its way onto my back porch. So many things..
I survived my bout with cancer, but it was cancer that took you from us. You left your family in our care and I hope you would think we are loving them well. Not nearly as much, as deeply, with an intensity that only a dad and grandfather is able. But we are trying.
I miss you. I miss hearing “Hey sis. Have you been scaring my deer again?” every time I walk. I miss those brotherly insults born out of love. I miss your teasing my son, trying to get him into trouble with comments over something I may, okay did, do. I, no, we all miss you. We know that you are strolling those streets of Gold with all of the family who have gone before you. All of our grandparents, aunts and uncles, along with my husband Jr. All greeting and welcoming you home. When our turn comes, I know you will be there to greet us and happily show us around. I do look forward to that reunion. Until then, Happy Heavenly birthday Michael. We all miss you terribly but we will see you again.