If I had a brother, today would be his birthday. My mother had another son, but he stopped being my brother a while back, I officially stopped referring to him as a relative just after the publication of my first book. He had felt the need to spread his venom for me as a review on Amazon.com. That was the last straw, after a few years of “last straws” with him.
Much like the Smothers Brothers, there had always been some sort of sibling rivalry. As the elder, I was just annoyed by my younger sibling (although a photograph exists of me tormenting him with his mobile in his crib). As time passed, it became rather obvious that he was for some reason jealous of me. I have no idea why. I’m guessing that it was because I was usually happy, meaning that I was satisfied by my life and enjoyed it without trying. He always seemed to be trying. Trying to be successful, trying to be accepted, trying to gain our parents’ approval. My measure of each of these was my own (and I do think my parents liked him more than me, but I also know they still love me as well). I lived by my own terms, with no need to prove myself, and I felt no need to compare myself to him. I was secure enough in my self that what others might term a failure I saw as a lesson. I learned a good deal, and am always ready to learn more.
We were always different from each other, I was the nonconformist (actually being officially named “Most Nonconformist” in school), he was the conformist. I was a musician, he scared small animals with his singing. I was imaginative, he was black and white. In many ways, I was more like my mother, he was more like my father. I am very thankful for my parents, but to me they are the almost perfect blend of opposites. How they stayed married as long as they did sometimes amazes me. Complementary in so many ways, yet the similarities are there as well, the glue that held them together. My male sibling and I have no similarities.
My second wife had a younger sister. The two couldn’t be much more different. Paula was raised to be self sufficient, she had a job at sixteen and helped with family expenses, bought her own (new) car, hunted down scholarships and grants to supplement her student loans in college. In fact, when she changed majors, her parents sold HER French Horn and bought new furniture. Her sister had everything handed to her. They weren’t new cars, and instead of college she went to beauty school, but she never paid for anything. They were both married about a month apart. We paid for almost everything in our wedding, her parents paid for the sister’s wedding. Our reception was at a hotel, her sister’s was at the country club. At the sister’s reception I learned some interesting things from the maid of honor. As much as Paula had always thought that her parents loved her sister more, the sister had always thought that the parents had loved Paula more. You never know how your children will interpret your parenting.
I always made an effort with my own children to point out to them that my love for each was different. Not more, less, better, or worse, just different. I had always taught them to appreciate different, that different is equivalent to special. So as far as I can tell, they were not jealous of the attention I gave to each of them, because they knew that they were special. It was later that I realized that even though they are genetically half me, they are also half their mother, so I can’t take much credit for their mental balance or lack thereof, they remain unique. I feel privileged to have had a part in introducing them to life.
I have rarely seen siblings that are friends, there is almost always some issues, usually minor irritations, rarely as severe as my male sibling and I. I do not believe that I have ever known a parent to purposely differentiate between their children, but many children sense that there is a difference. We each live in our own cocoon, we experience life through the only eyes we have, we see that life as only we can see it, and sometimes what we see is not what others see.
Sometimes I wish I had a brother, but I am far too aged to allow the person who is turning fifty-one today to insult me again. It is much easier to remove that person from my life than to endure his illness. I have an illness of my own.