National Brothers Day

24 05 2015

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When I looked up the definition for “brother” the most appropriate definition to describe my brother was “an exclamation to express annoyance or surprise”. From the moment my brother was born he was full of surprises. I remember being truly surprised when first “viewing” our new family member because he was so little. I was super annoyed that my parents had completely mislead me into believing that I was going to have a new little brother to play with. Seriously this little bundle of joy that everyone was raving about had no hair (none that we could see as he was so fair), no teeth, couldn’t talk or walk so really I didn’t see how he was going to enhance my life in any way. But my brother has this uncanny way of sucking you in and very quickly my world revolved around him. I had to be involved in every part of his care taking. He was born with congenital heart defects and would cry for hours every single night. I remember walking for what seemed like endless hours back and forth through the kitchen as movement seemed to keep him content. It was such a regular routine that we even made up a song to sing to him ….are a walkin’ through the kitchen so dear old “Brent” won’t cry.

I am not sure if it was jealousy at all of the attention he received from being a baby or from the extra love he seemed to get from my mom but I remember being really annoyed with him one day. I figured if he didn’t have any clothes they would have to get rid of him and so I tried to sell his clothing out my bedroom window for a nickel or a dime per piece. That very well could have been the beginning of my entrepreneurial spirit as I apparently charged people to see and hold him as well.

As my little brother grew older it was apparent that he was going to need open-heart surgery. He would turn blue just from walking up the stairs from our basement and had trouble keeping up with myself, and the kids in our neighbourhood when we were running outside due to the lack of oxygen he was receiving as a result of the hole in his heart. The day of his surgery came (5 years old) and I was sent to school as if it was a regular day. I remember my 5th grade teacher Mr. Beynon teaching a math lesson but all that was running through my mind was what was happening at the hospital. When the school secretary brought me the message that the surgery had been a huge success I was not surprised. My little brother was the strongest and most determined kid I had ever met and nothing was going to stop him from throwing on a pair of skates and playing hockey. My parents did not want Brent to play. It was actually recommended that he didn’t. Yes his heart had been repaired but it would never be as strong had he been born with out a heart defect. Brent annoyed my parents with his constant requests to play hockey and surprised my parents by saying that he would rather die being happy and playing hockey than not and being sad (remember he is 5 years old). That statement was a game changer as next thing I knew we were a hockey family. Not only did Brent play hockey but also he became a force to be reckoned with. He stopped at nothing to get that puck and although it was annoying to have to go and watch him at some ungodly hours at an outdoor rink in Winnipeg I could not have been more proud of his determination and tenacity. Brent’s play hard philosophy did earn him several trips to the emergency room. He was hit by a car and spent a month and a half in traction in the hospital. There were multiple trips to the emergency room for stitches and broken bones. I remember him spending a day riding around on his bike with a broken arm because he knew my mom would be more than annoyed when she had to make yet another trip to the hospital because he had been going off jumps on his bike which she had specifically asked him not to do. I think he was annoyed to have his arm in a cast but the second it was off he was riding his skateboard down a neighbours roof and flying down onto a ramp he had put against a car he had picked up for $50.

It was in his teen years that the caught off guard surprises started happening. Brent was full out annoying now. He was into the full mode of drive his sister crazy. You can imagine the horror and surprise I felt when I looked out my bedroom window to see the neighbourhood kids all gathered around him when I came to the realization that he was reading them excerpts from my diary that had not only been locked but also hidden in my room. He had become the neighbourhood comedian and jokester.

Everyone thought he was sooooo funny. They didn’t have to live with him. The worst practical joke he ever played on me was shortly after I had finally gained permission to have my own phone with my own private number in my room. It was exciting to hear it ring knowing that it was “my” personal phone. I would run down to the end of the hallway where my room was, open the door and run in and jump on my bed and answer my phone. The day of the incident I heard my phone ring and true to form I ran down to my room, flung open my door and I was mid air when I saw that this was not going to be an ordinary landing. My dear little brother had covered my bed in anything he could find that was slippery from the fridge. My bed was covered in mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, salad dressing (come on picture it in your head) and much more. I landed on my bed and slid hard and fast into my wall at the end of my bed. All I could hear was laughter coming from down that hall. Thank goodness cell phones and social media was not around to capture the images.

As he grew up there were more and more practical jokes. At my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary Brent added “coholic” to my Uncle Al’s nametag and he could not figure out why people were giggling at him all night long. When working with the Salsa hockey team he had the Zamboni driver completely surround sports journalist Cleve Dheeshaw’s car with very high piles of snow and he left a red Dairy Queen Spoon under his windshield with a note that said, “ Have fun digging out”.

I think the biggest surprise for me was when my brother and his girlfriend announced that they were having a child. I could not imagine anyone wanting to spend their life with him (he always keeps it interesting) let alone have a child. When my dad called to let me know that Brent and Terra had had a beautiful baby girl I was in complete and utter shock. A “girl”?? Was that even possible? I had assumed that my very manly, athletic, good time loving brother would only be capable of producing boys. Once again he surprised me by not only having a girl but by becoming a dad that makes me proud. He now has two girls (go figure) and he is still the manly, athletic, good time loving guy but he is also an incredible dad. I am grateful that Terra has to deal with most of the surprises and annoyances now (she is a saint) but I still keep an eye over my shoulder because you never know what he will be up to next.