Happy birthday, Shorty
I think the deal was, I was the 3-year-old king of our house. Was the youngest of five and as the attention all to myself. Photos show me next to my big brother, smiling like a champ.
Then they brought Bob home.
And for the next several years we fought and scratched and clawed, more than any brothers I’ve known.
I pushed him down the stairs. A very bad day. He bounced back, but was forever a little guy. Friends dubbed him “Shorty.”
In between fights we played sports day and night. Baseball, football, basement hockey, driveway hockey, street hockey, ice hockey, basement basketball, golf, bowling, Jarts. I think we even boxed, once or twice.
But baseball was king. Bob and I set up on the sidewalk outside our house. We cranked music on the old Hi-Fi, if Mom and Dad weren’t around, and played pitcher-catcher, with a welcome mat as home plate.
We had no backstop, so wild pitches (or passed balls) meant stopping the game again and again to chase a well-worn baseball far off down the block.
We played ball every chance we got, at home and during family vacations to South Dakota, Spring Valley, Oronoco – wherever. And started as early as we could each year, two little boys playing their favorite game amidst melting snow and thawing ice.
We were good, too. I was fairly athletic. But Shorty had an especially strong arm. He had success in Little League. I loved it too.
We laughed loud upon sharing bad jokes late at night in our upstairs bedroom, where we moved from a bedroom the size of a walk-in closet.
We quickly stopped when Mom came and told us to shut up – and stopped truly and for good when Dad got up and gave us his scariest Dead-Eye Stare. He looked like a grizzly bear about to attack. He was ANGRY.
I moved on to high school and ran track and cross country. Shorty was a tiny wrestler, wrapped in multiple sweat suits and riding a stationary bike down in the boiler room to try and make weight.
Then I was in college and my little brother was on his own with Mom and Dad. The other siblings had long since moved on.
Things changed. We drifted apart, getting together mostly during family reunions, during which we all played football or threw a baseball around.
Bob married a wonderful woman and has two fabulous kids. Can’t believe he’s in his mid-50s. The years race by in a heartbeat.
But I’ll always remember the good times, back in the old neighborhood and on the road. I know Bob will, too. Hopefully we’ll still be trading those boyhood stories as old codgers.
Today is Shorty’s birthday. He’s 55, for gosh sakes. I remember when he was sleeping in a crib, and we played between the bars and I got up and crawled in there with him.
We were the battling-est brothers of all time. Just about killed each other. But we’re blood. And when things are good, his smile and his laugh and his stature still kill me, and always will.
Happy birthday, Bob. Don’t tell anyone I said this, but I love you, little buddy.
Here’s to you.