There are plenty of official and unofficial commerorative days set aside to honor members of our families. We celebrated Mothers’ Day earlier this month. Fathers’ Day is next month. Grandparents Day is the first Sunday after Labor Day in September. Aunt and Uncle Day is July 10th. April 10th was Siblings Day. Sisters Day is the 1st Sunday in August. Brothers and Sisters Day was May 2nd. Brothers Day is either in September or today, May 24th.
To avoid confusion, I celebrate Sisters Day in August, and Brothers Day in May; it’s just easier to remember them this way. When we discovered there is such a holiday as Brothers Day, my brother, Mark and I liked to celebrate the May holiday because it is betweeen Mothers Day and Fathers Day. The two official holidays brought with them, nostalgic memories of family life and growing up together.
Brothers Day wasn’t the only day we celebrated together. Since our birthdays are within a few days of each other, once we grew up, our family alternated the shared celebrations alternately. We celebrated our birthdays on Mark’s birthday one year, and on mine the next. However, decade birthdays were celebrated individually.
Mark was born on August 21, 1955. I barely remember the day my parents brought him home from the hospital, but mom said I liked him right away. During our childhood, Mark and I were best friends as well as brothers. There was little of the natural hierarchy with me as the oldest and Mark as the youngest. Ranking is more evident regarding my sister; she has more typical middle child issues.
That said, I had to be mindful of my brother because Mark told me he looked up to me as sort of a parent figure. It’s both flattering and daunting to have somebody look up to you when you’re still a child yourself.
When I displayed a strong interest in something, soon, Mark would try to emulate me. When I started to sketch cars, Mark soon followed suit. When I begged for a skateboard, so did Mark. This trait continued, at least through his high school years. Because I studied and enjoyed high school German, he took a year of it when he reached high school.
Some of the emulation went the other way, too. Mark often behaved in stereotypically youngest sibling ways. He often pushed past behavioral boundaries. I sometimes felt challenged to follow him into unsafe territory, because he piqued my curiosity about dangerous things. These explorations strengthened the bond between us.
The one area I wish he had never entered was cigarette smoking. He began smoking over a year before I finally followed in his footsteps. The habit was very difficult for me to shake. Mark never did quit smoking.
Mark and I often rode our bicycles all over the city of Lincoln, Nebraska. We usually packed sandwiches because our day-trips took us several miles from home. Our explorations of the outer limits of Lincoln were another covert activity we shared. Mom and dad never guessed how far we bicycled each summer. After I was old enough to legally drive, Mark and I took many vacation trips together, just the two of us. These shared adventures reinforced our bond well into adulthood.
Even though we eventually took different career paths through life, we remained close friends as only brothers can. Mark managed to explore his own, inate interests and talents and no longer emulated me. This newfound autonomy was good for both of us. We were able to share our own experiences in new ways.
Lately, Brothers Day has become nostalgic in a more painful way. A few days after New Years Day in 2011, Mark fell victim to an acute Aoritic Aneurysm and died during a seven hour surgery.
Being a brother and having a brother brings about priceless experiences. If you have a brother, I recommend that you get in touch with him today. If you can, have lunch or dinner with him and relive your family memories.