Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Sunday, September 29, 2013

Big Brother

Yesterday was my brother, George's, 60th birthday.
This needs commemorating!

Then
My big brother, George, and I are two years and four days apart.
When I was born, he wasn't quite ready to have a younger sibling. But, eventually, he accepted me.
It only took fourteen years for us to become best friends.
In our early days, George and I mostly avoided one another. Whenever we tried to play together, we inevitably ended up fighting. Usually the fights were over who started the fights, but why quibble over details?
Fortunately, living on the ranch, there were numerous other opportunities for mischief than playing with siblings.
George had his things mechanical, I had horses.
It was a perfect world.
* * *
When I turned twelve, the magical world of 4-H opened up before me. Finally, I, too, could belong to that tantalizingly exclusive club that my older sister and brothers all enjoyed. I, too could choose a calf and raise it for a year. And go on tours. And calf-club meetings.
Life just didn't get any better.
Dad brought in a group of weanling calves for us to choose from. I instantly decided on the little red-and white-one. No, that little red-and-white one. There. The one next to the other little red-and-white one.
Okay, so they were all red-and-white.
I finally made my choice and my calf, along with my siblings' calves, was shut into a special pen.
For the first day, I was ecstatic. I couldn't stop looking at my calf. He was perfect! He was going to be a champion.
He was mine!
I watched as George hauled feed into the pen, both morning and evening.
This was exciting! This was fun!
He offered to let me carry the pail.
This was . . . work!
And I think that was the last time, ever, that I fed my own calf.
If it weren't for steady, reliable George, all of my 4-H calves would have starved to death.
And, oddly enough, he never complained.
* * *
Fourteen! I was finally able to attend my first dance!
George drove us there.
I think I danced twice. (One was 'Hey Jude', the customary and interminable last song, which one would inevitably end up dancing with someone who smelled funny.)
After the dance, George and I stayed in the kitchen and talked until four am.
It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
After that, we spent hours every day, just talking. Movies, books, friends, dates, music. The topics were endless and interesting.
And fun.
We never seemed to run out of things to discuss.
Which of my girlfriends had a crush on him this week.
School. (Miss Mueller, my English teacher loved my brother, but hated me. Go figure . . .)
Dating. When I turned 16, this was a new and wondrous world for me. George guided me through some of the pitfalls and heartbreaks. Once, when my date abandoned me for another girl at a dance, George provided a ride home. And a shoulder.
He got me through.
* * *
In his twenties, George decided to travel down another road. In black leather, long hair and a beard. And on a Harley.
Still then
He was still my beloved brother. Just a bit . . . scarier to look at.
Once when he was coming for a promised visit, my second son Erik, then six, waited up to greet him. When this long-haired man appeared, Erik took one look and fled down the stairs to his bed.
It was very shortly afterwards that George asked me to give him a haircut.
And not long after that when he decided that he needed to settle down.
For many years, he had struggled with relationships and church attendance/standards. Then, just before he turned 50, he made some needed changes.
And then he met Mikenzie.
She, too had experienced hardships in her life. But, like George, she was ready for something . . . eternal.
I was a witness as the two of them, dressed in white, knelt at the altar and gave their vows to each other. And to God.
I couldn't help but think of my former long-haired, black-leather-clad brother as he took his new wife into his arms and kissed her.
And accepted her daughter as his own.
Forever.
Today, as always, George is busy, organized, and frightfully clean.
But perhaps for the first time in his life, he is buoyantly happy.
And that makes me happy.
Happy 60th, big brother.

Now, with Mikenzie

16 comments:

  1. What a wonderful story with a happy ending. Happy Birthday Diane's Big Brother.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Diane this was such a beautiful story... I cried... thank you for sharing...


    Happy Birthday to your big brother George :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Launna. He's such a good big brother!

      Delete
  3. What a beautiful heartfelt tribute!! HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY George!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a lovely post for your brother's birthday. I enjoyed reading all of your thoughts about George. I have two brothers older than me and I was always close to my oldest brother but the brother that I wasn't close too was somewhat like George and you. We developed our relationship later in life. I lost my oldest brother in 2010 and now my other brother is fighting cancer. I think it is so important to enjoy the memories and the moments with our siblings. I treasure my moments and I can tell you do too.
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. I'm determined to appreciate what I have now! I'll add your brother to my prayers! Blessings to you!

      Delete
  5. This is such a wonderful birthday essay for your brother, Diane. I see your label and it reminds me of the only George I knew - a stellar guy - and he had to put up with that dumb rhyme too.

    Happy Birthday, George! Here's to many more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have to treasure the Georgie Peorgies in our life! Thank you for the Birthday wishes. I'll pass them along!

      Delete
  6. Thanks, Diane, for posting, and thanks to all of you for the birthday wishes. It has been a wonderful birthday although I sometimes struggle with that 3-score part; I told my granddaughter that only old people turn 60; I'm too young to be 60. I hope she doesn't develop psychological problems because of it. Thanks again!
    George

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't worry. If she hasn't developed psychological problems simply because you're her granddad, she never will! :) Love you to pieces!

      Delete
  7. What a fantastic brother.
    Happy Birthday George.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Happy Birthday - a bit late - George! Life is an interesting road - so glad for u-turns and lessons learned. May you be blessed by each new day! Wendy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Wendy! Happy days to you, too!

      Delete

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