In his amazing classic, White Christmas, Irving Berlin created one of my absolute favorite theatrical performances of all time to the tune of “Sisters.” The scene is set where two sisters are singing about how utterly inseparable they are. Growing up, my sister and I literally performed this song for the same enthusiastic crowd year after year (our parents). Down to a perfect science, we would lip sync and choreograph a dance that would’ve definitely made Bing Crosby and Danny Kay fall for us instead of the originally cast sisters! Well, as time wore on holiday after holiday, and we crept into our teenage years, there was one line of the song that became increasingly important, “Lord help the mister that comes between me and my sister.” This mister had a few different identities early on, but by the time I started high school, it turned out my sister had a heart for only one man … my brother-in-law.
Now I want one thing to be clear here … I never wanted a brother, I never asked for a brother; my sister and I had the sibling thing down. We were four years apart, close enough to have a lot in common but far enough in age to never compete with one another for attention or boys. We hardly ever argued and she never subjected me to the list of horrors my friends with brothers could name. I think the worst story I ever heard was one where my friend’s brother farted in a pillowcase, shoved him in it, then twisted the top closed and carried him around! Brutal! No! No brothers for me … until high school, that is. When my sister started dating, let’s just call him R. I absolutely adored him from the start. I didn’t want to, remind you–as I never desired the company a brother promised to bring, but I did. I loved him! He was funny and sweet, he doted on my sister without being annoying about it and paid attention to me!
He was the kind of guy who drove home behind my sister just to make sure she got there safe, the kind of guy who came home from college (two hours away) on a weeknight just to help me study for my my Honors Advanced Biology final. R was (and still is) a genius … truly, not in the idealized “my brother’s a genius” way but actually the skyrocket IQ, certifiably, high school valedictorian kind. The coolest thing is, he never let anyone know it. He was approachable and relatable, he explained things in a way that made sense without making you feel stupid in the process. Unlike the song, this “mister” never came between me and my sister, because he had my vote all along.
You may wonder what all this is about and why I chose now to share it, well, it is R’s birthday today, and as a gift to him, I wanted to let him (and my digital world) know that I consider him a real brother, not a brother-in-law. And I think, even though we aren’t related by blood, we both share a trait of restlessness sometimes. Both big dreamers, (though in completely different ways) we tend to judge ourselves on what we feel capable of achieving, instead of being proud of what we’ve done. I know that now in his mid-thirties, he wonders if he’s accomplished everything he should have by now. I see how he isn’t particularly satisfied, though he has a string of letters behind his name (including, but not limited to, M.D.).
So today, as a sister, I just want him to know that regardless of the genius plans to come, and the breakthrough’s he’ll be a part of … to me, he’s already there. A doctor, an avid businessman, a father of three and a husband to my perfect sister – what else could you possibly attain that could add up to more than that? I know you still will though … break records and make impossible gains, but as your favorite guy Einstein once said, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” So embrace this birthday … take every moment of this beautiful life you’ve been given, and live it well my brother. The song link above is for you, and anyone else with an awesome brother.
Love your little sister,