Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A love letter to my brother, Tom

I was 5 and a half when my little brother was born on April 14th, 1969. But I had loved him long before that. He was my imaginary friend when I was a younger child in Peru. "Little Brother" had to have a cookie if I had one (yup, I got 2 cookies then!) and he had to be seatbelted into the car just like me before we drove off. I must have played a lot with "little Brother" as I was an only child until I was in Kindergarten.

Don't really remember much about my mom being pregnant, she lost two babies during the years between us, so I think she was rather cautious about announcing the news to me. But I can certainly tell you how exciting it was when I woke up one morning without my parents in the house and a friend/babysitter told me that my Mom was in the hospital having a baby! I talked to her everyday. I learned to write my LONG last name while she was gone. I ate at different friends' homes. I had fun without my parents but I really just wanted to see my REAL brother. Then FINALLY after three long days of waiting....my Mom was coming home with MY WISH COME TRUE! At school I must have told EVERY open ear that I had a little brother and HE was coming HOME TODAY TO ME! I ran as fast as I could from the carpool lady's house down the street...whipped open the front door to find Mom and little brother bundled up on the couch. My Dad made me wash my hands thoroughly and sit down on nicely on the couch, he told me to hold my arms out steadily to hold little Brother and Mom came and laid him there close to me! My heart thumping wildly in my chest....
Thomas Hansel Doughty
In case you are wondering...he carries the names of both our grandfathers.
I have always loved his name, seems so strong,
wise and gentle as our grandfathers were in life.
Tom and I played A LOT together once he was bigger (and more interesting) in the meantime, my Mom has written in my baby book that I was a great helper girl with my little Brother.
We built great palaces and forts from wooden blocks. We sang to all the Disney Albums. We made grand parties with all our stuffed animals. Tom cried on his 4th birthday when I went to school and refused to play with his new toys until I came home. We played Barbies together (with your action men and Ken doll). We slept in the same room even though we each had our own room, I was 10 and Tom was 4 when we decided that it was time to separate.

Then hormones came into the situation and having a pesty little Brother was, oh, so embarrassing during my middle school and high school years. That darn little Brother followed me EVERYWHERE....he spied on me and my friends, he TAPE RECORDER our conversations during parties, and worse, I HAD to "babysit" him when our parents went out in the evening. (Actually, it wasn't all that bad because Mom always gave us our food of choice, Arby's or crumbly hamburger.) We continued to play together despite the age difference....we dug huge holes to China in our back yard under our tree house, we played endless swimming pool games, we bicycled, we made messes, we had fun! (most of the time)
We went on a gazillion family trips each summer and holiday. We simultaenously enraged each other and entertained each other. (spit ball fights in the car, ugly face game)

When my little brother graduated in 1992 from San Fransisco State University, I was much happier than on my own graduation day in 1985 from Indiana University. (The reasons for which I will not get into now.) Listening to the ceremony, watching my brother do silly but respectful things on the field below to catch our attention and finally seeing him receive his diploma were such proud moments for me! MY LITTLE BROTHER had graduated!! He had accomplished something my family, frankly, didn't think he'd finish! THIS was a major FEAT, whereas, my own graduation was basically a fact when I started university...I don't mean this in a snobby way, it just means that I stay within the box, usually. I do what I'm supposed to do...what's expected of me by my parents. When I have strayed out of those neat perimeters, I somehow really make a muck up of things. (rhymes with.....) My brother, on the other hand, struggled, studied, hated, quit, started again, enjoyed, learned, and finally acheived! No box with timelines for him! More than anything I wanted to PARTY ALL NIGHT LONG with him and his friends on his graduation day....but who was I in their eyes? The elementary school teacher big sister....boring!
It was HIS MOMENT to share with his friends...
but the JOY I felt for him was tremendous!
(notice that he was carrying a book to read during the ceremony, or was it his last term paper?)
Now I will reveal something I've never told to my little Brother....I admire him for his ability to follow his ideas and try something new, if it fails, oh well, pick up and start again. Sometimes it's a welcome change, sometimes it comes with a lot of hurt and sorrow and loss. He has done this time and time again and now I feel he is entering a stage when he knows what he wants and he's going for it. That's being 40, I think. He's found himself again but this time THIS IS IT! All his knowledge, creativity, drive, faith, and strong will to acheive will give him the success and happiness he has been searching for a long time!

On the other hand, the big sister has only had one job her whole adult career....happy with status quo, take no risks, follow along with what comes next rather than trying to make changes. Oh, you readers think...but you've done this, you've done that....you've moved to Sweden....the fact is travelling and adventuring are part of my hobbies, but taking steps to try something completely new as a career is a little scary for me, partially because I love my job teaching with students of all ages. I've fantasized many times about trying a new career...but the fantasy is only that. It stays in the treasure fantasy chest and only peeked at once in a while. Maybe some day.....who knows after I beat cancer, I may just have the courage to try something new! New adventures wait around each corner, you know!

My dearst Brother, you are the BEST a sister could ever have dreamed of for her lifetime! We have had good times to laugh at (Land of Cut the Cheese), we have fought like crazy (the Costa Rican machet incident comes to mind and the Princess Diana souvenir plate) and we have shared many quiet moments (walking in the rain with Maya under rainbow umbrellas)! I love you so much and I miss you so much. Your wisdom and knowledge about organic foods & proper excercise probably could have saved me from some of what I am suffering now...I wish I had listened to you more back in time. I am thankful you have faith in me now and continue to support me with suggestions (that I'm now following). You are a beautiful, kind soul and you are still my LITTLE brother even though (gasp) you are 40 years old today! No matter where you are or what you are doing....I'm always proud to point you out in a crowd and say
"THAT'S MY LITTLE BROTHER, the one I wished for when I was a little girl living in Peru."

Happy Birthday, Tom!


Tom, I'm so sorry...my energy is wiped and I am having some computer memory problems again...maybe has something to do with the 14, 000 photos on my hard drive? help me!
I had full intentions of scanning all kinds of great, embarrassing and fun photos of you from my collection. Soon....then you will get your REAL present from me! xoxxo


neitha said...

I just have to say how absolutely stunning you look in that picture at your bother's graduation! Wow! I guess I've never been through your scrapbook of pictures, seeing you as a young chick!

mbduke said...

Love the tribute to your brother. He sounds like a wonderful person, just like his big sister!

Natalie Harris said...

You woman....you have the GIFT of LOVING...we ALL LOVE being LOVED by you!!!!! I call sister rights!!! I know I'm not the first to call them...but I STILL call them....GET IT?

Kelly Sue said...

Carol (sniffle, sniffle), that was beautiful and knowing Tom (albeit as little as I do), I am sure he is just as amazed and humbled by you love and we all are. I would be interested to read Tom's take on these things. Happy Birthday Tom, I look forward to seeing you again. Take care today Carol, I won't have a brain today since my thoughts will be with you. I love you sister!

Sheryl(Katz)Goldenberg said...

That was a wonderful birthday card you wrote to your brother. Always remember that I'm thinking about you, even though you are so far away. Give a hug to your mom for me.


h said...

so sweet! And having known you both as little kids makes it the more special...happy birthday to Tom(mie)!

G'G'ma said...

That was such a wonderful letter to your brother. I'm sure he felt that too.

lizardek said...

That was so great! I loved seeing the photos of YOU! You should totally do the school photos thing :)

helene Mikell said...

Tom..this must be one of the most precious things in the world to you now. She loved you so much.

Helene du Toit Mikell