My Brother's Getting Married
The day after tomorrow, my brother is getting married. This is more than a little bit mindblowing. There's twelve years between us (with no other kids in-between... I guess the first child was so traumatic it took my parents twelve years to recover) so he's really always been a "little brother" to me.
He was born on a Saturday, which I remember because after mom and dad left for the hospital, I fixed myself a bowl of cereal and watched cartoons before mowing the lawn. I was pushing that mower when Dad showed up later that morning to give me a "gift from my brother" - a pair of baseball cleats. A few days later they brought home what looked like a big raisin with eyes, and our life with Andy began.
When you're twelve years older, you're really more of a babysitter/extra parental figure than you are brother, so the next six years were filled with many hours of me watching Andy... reading him books (he loved "The Pokey Little Puppy"), watching TV ("Teenage Ninja Turtles" and "He-Man"), taking him to the arcade (we could milk $5 like nobody's business), pillow fighting (where "Don't cry! Mom will hear you!" became my mantra), and bike rides (originally with him strapped into the childseat on my mom's bike). I've given him baths. I've tucked him to bed. I've changed his diapers (although, under protest). Somehow, in the midst of this, I became his hero, and he became a shadow who got upset whenever I'd go out with the guys or on a date and left him at home.
When I started at Miami, it was rough on Andy. For the first few months, he kept asking Mom when I was moving back home, and told me on the phone, more than once, that he thought me going to college was a bad idea. He looked forward to the weekends or holidays I'd be home, and I always tried to make time for us to do something together during the visit. He loved coming down for "Little Sibs Weekend" (weekends, I suspect he still holds up as highlights from his childhood) because we'd watch a lot of movies, eat a lot of crap food, and go to Kings Island. Usually though, when you're this far apart in age, this is where the story ends as far as relationships go. You graduate from college, and if you don't move home, you start your life, and contact is pretty much limited to special events and occasions.
But, upon hearing a call to ministry at the tail-end of my college experience, I ended up back in Lima, where after a couple of years I became my brother's youth pastor. That gift from God pretty much cemented our bond as brothers, and helped us transcend the decade-plus gap between us. And so, as he's grown, in between living, and not living together in the same town, through the miracle of unlimited nighttime minutes on our cell phones, my brother and I have remained close. He tells me stories about what it's like to grow up in this day and age, and I regale him with tales of what its like to become older, married, a father, and a somewhat-responsible human being. We've called one another late at night to keep one another awake on late night drives (although, as I get older, he finds me up late less and less), helped solved one another's problems (although, by virtue of my age, I'm the one who usually does most of the solving), and spend hours just trying to make the other guy laugh.
Now, 24 years old and in law school, Andy will officially, in my mind anyway, move firmly and securely into adulthood. As time passes, my extra 12 years of accumulated experience will more and more, help him less and less as he lives life that I suspect will be far different from my own. I expect that his life will become increasingly busy and complex, and as the years pass, the struggle to stay connected will grow more difficult. And that's OK, because it'll mean that he'll be growing into the person God needs him to be, in this time and place.
But, forever, we will always be the only two sons Dan and Judy Bucher ever had. That fact alone will give us enough reason, I suspect, to continue to pick up the phone to keep one another awake on late night drives, help solve one another's problems (which, by virtue of his profession, I suspect will result in a lot of free legal advice), and spend a few hours just trying to make the guy laugh. Hopefully we'll even be able to steal a day or two before we die, and sneak away from our families to catch a ballgame or a day on the slopes. I just know that every day I have with brother will be a gift, and I intend to treat it as such.
Ah, but I'm getting all mushy... if your reading this, boy, never forget that I'll always be able to kick your can in a game of one-on-one.
Congrats little brother! Never forget that you married way above yourself (Melissa is wonderful), and that your big brother will always love you.