Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Christmas Cowboy

Pictured here is my older brother showing off his new cowboy outfit Santa brought him "just a few years back" on Christmas. I'm in the rocking chair. With us are two cousins. Brothers are good to have. Maybe one doesn't realize it for they can be pests. Take this cowboy for example. It's not that he was a pest. It's just that he was the first born and in my parents' eyes-especially my mother's-and my grandparents, aunts, uncles,and cousins he could do no wrong.

Growing up, because he was a few years older, he really never hung around with us younger ones. He never played in the clubhouse or skated on the creek with us. Instead, he hung around more with our grandfather-riding the tractor or going to town with our grandfather in his old truck. Aunts and uncles included him in activities and usually he got to sit at the big table during gatherings. We younger ones were never jealous or felt slighted. After all, he was the oldest. With his red hair and freckles and a zest for life that's never gone away he paved the way for the rest of us. It's since growing older that I understand the value of an older brother.

When we hit our late teens he became my protector. Although his friends would hang out at the house he tried separating me and my friends from them-especially when we were all out and having fun. Sometimes that worked but most times, it didn't! When our father died he became the oldest in a different way. When our mother died he stepped into a new role for me and our younger brother and sister.

Roles in families evolve as families grow and change and lose loved ones along the way. It's memories like a little cowboy sitting under a Christmas tree and his sister sitting nearby in a rocking chair that tie the bond as years flow by. The trick is never to lose site of those memories as we go along for they are the foundation from which we go through life.

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