My brother is an undercover softie. He has been that way as long as I can remember. Well, maybe he didn’t used to be quite so “undercover.” Life made him tough. From Cryin’ Brian, to Wojo, to Woj, my brother morphed from a little boy into the coolest bad ass I know. Regardless, it’s almost always been evident that as much as we drive each other crazy, he truly loves me. Of course, I love him just as much.
I’ll never forget staying home sick one summer day. I couldn’t have been more than 9. Mom and Dad were both at work, and I felt awful. I’m not sure what I was sick with, whether it was just a summer cold or some other bug, but my baby brother (a whole 10 months and 2 days younger than me) took it upon himself to take care of me. This in itself was incredibly unusual for us, as we had always been quite the bickering set of Irish twins, particularly when our parents weren’t home.
Typically, with the parents not being home, I would try to dominate the house, as any good older sibling should. We would fight over who got to watch which TV, who got to control the remote, who had to let the dog out, and who had to let the dog in. Sometimes, I kind of thought I was the parent in the house when there was no parent around. It drove my mother crazy…It probably still does.
Obviously, my brother didn’t adhere well to that school of thought. His thought process: No parents home? No one is in charge. Except that he had a sister who was 10 months and 2 days older than him who had always been a little (a lot) bossy. So we would fight, bicker, and call our parents up at Flaherty’s begging for what either of us wanted.
Mom would answer the phone. We would whine. She would turn on her angry voice (quietly, so the bar patrons didn’t hear her), and say, “I. Am. At. Work. Stop. Fighting. Now. I. Shouldn’t. Have. To. Deal. With. This.” 10 minutes later, Dad would call and beg us to just kiss and make up and to stop bothering Mom while she was tending bar. It didn’t really help things at all.
Looking back, the 4 whole hours she was gone for the afternoon bartending shift shouldn’t have really been a big deal. But to us, it seemed like forever.
But this time, it wasn’t the same. We didn’t fight at all. I was pretty sick, so no bossing. I suppose that means I’m the reason for most of the fights. I’ll take the rap for that.
So, that morning, I was snuggled up in our parents’ king size bed watching soaps (most likely All My Children), and I had asked my brother to bring me “toast or something” because I thought I could use something to eat. A half hour later, I was shocked to discover a platter of goodies to consume. Toast, soup, crackers, fruit, cheese, and a few other little extras to make me smile.
It was the best meal in bed that I’ve ever had. Throughout the rest of my childhood, I often tried to recreate my brother’s little snacky lunch set up, but it was never quite the same.