I have one sibling. We call him Chip, although his given name is George, same as our father’s, so he has a nickname. It seems suitable that a Gemini should have two names. And he lives up to his Gemini birth in other ways as well. He is younger than I, by not quite 3 years, so I have known him all his life. I am here to tell you that if there was ever a child who could go from angel to devil in a heartbeat, it was Chip. But despite, or perhaps a little bit because of, the drama (see hysterical meltdown in Caldor’s that made our mother avoid going there for a month, or the time he pulled my two front teeth out by accident) he was, and continues to be, one of my favorite people in this life.
I am well suited to deal with raising a boy child, for many reasons, but in great part because I grew up with a brother who loved super heroes. We spent many hours reading the comic books that Chip acquired. We read Batman, X-Men, Superman, and the occaisional Archie, to name just a few. We played matchbox cars along side having Barbie date GI Joe, and he was that kid who would wear a blanket for a cape, and because of the old Davey and Goliath series, would put Dixie cups with the bottoms cut out of them on his wrists, and pretend he could turn his favorite stuffed dog into a lion with a bang of his wrist guards.
When I look back at family photos, which I LOVE doing because I LOVED having my picture taken SO MUCH, I notice that there are so many in which we are laughing. Our lives were not perfect, but it was a good life filled with a lot of good memories. We always got along and we always had each other to keep us entertained. We moved approximately every 5 years during my childhood, and at first the only people we would know was each other. It made the transition a little easier. But it is the one thing that has always been true of our relationship – we know how to laugh together.
We ended up at college together twice. Once was when he was a freshman and I was a senior at Geneva College, then he transferred to Ohio University. I ended up there for my masters program, the same time he was a senior and then in his masters program. We ended up graduating at the same time from OU.
We have not lived closer than 3000 miles apart since 1991 when he moved to Oregon and I moved to New York state after graduation. Through the advances and miracles of technology, we now have Facebook to communicate through and keep track of each other on a daily, sometimes hourly basis, as well as facetime, which we used for the first time the other night on our respective idevices. Cooper digs his Crazy Uncle Chip, (his words) and thinks his Iron Man action figure looks like Uncle Chip. Chip having a black motorcycle with all the black leather gear doesn’t do anything to dissuade my child from believing his uncle might just be a superhero. If slinging sarcasm is a super power, he just might be. He has often felt slightly misplaced in Oregon, which until the show Portlandia arrived on the scene, often felt bereft of clever, witty banter and subtle wry humor. Recently though it appears he has found a new job and new relationships that have provided an outlet for all his Chip-ness. My brother is the only person I know who can find peace and fulfillment in a job that puts him inside a prison dealing with clinically defined crazy nutjobs on an almost daily basis. This might tell you something about how he is wired. It has taken a little more than 40 years for him to find his zone, but at least he found it. There are people in his life who make him laugh, make him feel loved for who he is and a person really cannot ask for more that that.
So on this day, the day of his 45th birthday, I think Chip can feel a sense of wholeness that maybe he has never felt before. And that is a priceless gift.
Check out the slide show below, which is a series of pictures from our lives. Happy Birthday George II. See you in a few weeks!