Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Treasure

Tomorrow my middle brother will celebrate his 32nd birthday.

He was born during one of the worst weather disasters ever to strike the United States, The Great Lakes Storm Of 1978, a massive winter storm that deposited 60 inches of snow on Chicago, caused the entire State Of Ohio to close for a week, and resulted in a federal declaration of National Emergency.

The 1978 winter storm, happily, bypassed Minneapolis. My parents, knowing my brother was due, had been following weather forecasts very closely, but the morning of January 27, 1978, was perfectly clear in the Twin Cities.

My parents had no trouble making their way to the hospital that morning. In fact, according to my parents, they ate breakfast and gave my older brother a bath before leaving home, and drove to my grandparents’ house to deposit my older brother before at last proceeding to the hospital.

My brother arrived just past 12:00 Noon.

My parents, applying the law of averages, had expected their second child to be a girl, but it made no difference to them whether the newborn was a boy or a girl. Granted a second son, they loved the new baby without limit.

That evening, my grandparents visited the hospital to see their new grandson, and they took my older brother with them so that he could see his new brother.

“Too small” was his judgment that night—but I believe he has changed his assessment since.

Tomorrow night, there will be a big celebration at my parents’ house. My mother has planned a dinner of filet mignon, twice-baked potatoes, steamed fresh green beans, grilled red and yellow peppers, and a raspberry-nut salad, preceded by genuine salmon mousse prepared from fresh Alaska salmon. My brother’s birthday cake, by request, will be a maple cake.

Joshua and I mailed our gifts on Saturday, via Priority Mail, and our package arrived at my parents’ house this afternoon. Everything is set for tomorrow night’s grand celebration.

Much has changed over the course of the last thirty-two years—and much has remained the same.

On January 27, 1978, a new president had occupied the White House for one full year and, to anyone paying attention, it was already apparent that he was nothing more than an oddity, an accident of history, clearly destined to be a “one-termer”.

The night my brother was born, Jimmy and Rosalyn and Amy Carter, according to the official White House calendar, spent the evening in the White House theater, where they viewed, for the umpteenth time, “A Town Called Plains”, a Democrat-produced advertising film used in the 1976 election campaign.

Satire could not produce anything half so grotesque. The Carters always were—and still are—indescribable boobs.

My brother, on the other hand, is good, and decent, and noble. He has the great gifts of kindness, and generosity, and loyalty, and friendship.

He is a treasure to everyone with the good fortune to know him.

The world would be a far sadder place without his grace.

Happy Birthday!

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