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Happy birthday to my brother, my old friendPublished October 27, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
My world got rocked when I was 7.
I was an only child and only grandchild until then, and let me tell you, life was pret-ty good.
My brother was born Oct. 27, 1970.
I remember looking into the crib and saying he was ugly.
It didn’t take long, though, before I had an intense, protective love for this kid that I wouldn’t experience again until years later when I had my first son.
This was MY little brother. I carried him on my hip and taught him to spell a few words and maybe scared him with a Halloween mask and fed him mud pies just once.
He was only annoying for a brief time in my dating years, when he’d hide to watch me kiss my dates goodnight.
Mainly, though, he was just my sweet, smart, nerdy brother. Teachers loved him, and he always had lots of friends.
He is kind and has a sweet spirit. When we played a game growing up, he wanted everybody to win. (His competitive spirit has evolved a little since then.)
As he grew up, it was clear that he had sucked every math gene from our family gene pool, whereas I had to stay in at recess because I didn’t know my multiplication tables.
He won math contests and all kinds of academic awards, and he decided in about fourth grade to become a doctor.
I watched him graduate from high school at the top of his class, go to college, where he not only made just one ‘B,’ but he was president of his fraternity, got the top award given to a graduate and made lifelong friends. He went to Vanderbilt to medical school and then was off to New York City for surgery residency.
I burst into tears on the phone when he called to tell me. New York City was the End of the Earth, as far as I was concerned.
It was a great adventure for him, although it was five grueling years — mentally and physically. Once I remember he got off the plane in Memphis to come back home, and it was a shock to see how much weight he’d lost and how pale he was from practically living in the hospital.
We stayed close through it all. I remember one time he opened his Christmas gifts while we talked on the phone so I could hear his reaction to them.
He managed to run the New York Marathon twice, and in good time. One of my greatest regrets in life is not going to watch.
Friends of mine heard about him through the years, of course, ad nauseum (just like you do). I always got compliments about him being handsome. A former co-worker picked up a picture of him when we were playing bunco at my house and put it on the table with her. She started winning and kept it with her all night.
I do believe she’s the one who dubbed him Wonder Brother.
That is not a title he’d give himself. He has a self-deprecating sense of humor, and I’ve never even heard him introduce himself out in public as Dr. I’ve met lots of nurses who know him through the years. They talk about how much they love him, a true testament to his personality, and that he’s just a nice guy. They also often want him to do their kids’ surgeries because they trust him, too.
He has a great combination of the type-A drive of my mother and me, and the gentle aspects of our dad’s personality. He hates conflict, although he’ll stand up for what he believes is right. It’s just the way we were raised.
When he was 11, a little girl was born to a couple in Bryant. Some 26 years later in Jonesboro, she’d meet a doctor who would rock her world, and she’d rock his (and his family would cheer, “Finally!”).
They had a baby, and then he knew that overwhelming, intense, protective love that parents and big sisters have.
He is a great dad, too. He changed diapers, got up at night, and no matter how exhausting or crazy his day is, he tries to be home to give his 2 1/2-year-old little boy a bath. He’s teaching him the finer points of the Dallas Cowboys and Star Wars.
Happy birthday, little brother.
I’m glad you were born.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or email@example.com.