I am the oldest of three kids in my family.  My brother is about 2.5 years younger than me and we have a sister a few years back of him.  Growing up was always interesting with the interactions between the three of us.  Our sister pretty much kept to herself and had her own friends with very little crossover due to the age difference. We really don’t see her much anymore, as once she became an ‘adult’ she took off to be on her own.  We lived in a small ranch house growing up, which meant that he and I shared a bedroom.  Things were a little bit tight. However things between my brother and myself often got a little bit heated.
In our truly younger days, we liked each other. 8 year old me loved having 5-6 year old baby brother around. I enjoyed being the ‘older brother’.  However once we reached the teens years things got a little strained at time. I always sensed that there was always a background animosity coming from him as I was allowed to do things (due to my age) that he wasn’t able to yet.  Probably because he would always yell stuff like “It isn’t FAIR that HE gets to do that and I don’t!”   At the time he didn’t get it.  I understand, what kid does.  I just knew then that I got to go paces he didn’t and do things he didn’t. And I wold get pissed that he didn’t look up to me as the older brother like you always saw on sitcoms.  At 14 I was working for one of the local farmers and making a little bit of cash, which I promptly spent on myself. I would buy things for me and when brother would want to play with them, I would have a cow. Fights often ensued.   It turns out that for a while we were both in high school together.  Now it was good thing for baby brother, as brothers were off limits to most taunting and stuff.  I was on good standing with MOST of the teachers so he didn’t have any stigma on our name when he got to them. And I was well liked in the school in general so he wasn’t bullied (that I knew of). However that didn’t mean I wanted him hanging around us, which he did.  Fights often ensued.
Then I left for college.  Not having to share a room with baby brother any more seemed to be the cure.  We started talking more to each other like brothers, not squabbling over whose computer it is. As the age gap grew less important we talked more about just about everything, like TV brothers almost! We actually didn’t mind hanging out with each other.  I visited him at college and we got drunk together. We knew each others friends.  We talked, just to talk.  Maybe having a brother isn’t all that bad?
Fast forward to our 30’s.  We are both married, have kids not that far apart in age and live mere blocks from each other.  We hang out often, playing poker and other games together and our kids become good friends instead of just cousins. At one point my brother even came to work for me. For several years I had him help me run my store since I could trust him. I was a little worried about that at first, we were getting along so well I didn’t want to jinx it by spending all damn day with him, but I needed someone I could trust for when I wasn’t there.  He was it.  I taught him printing and he learned it well.  Well enough that when I finally closed my store he used those skills and secured a new job in printing which he is still doing today. We got along so well that our wives hated it when the 4 of us got together as we had so many inside jokes between us it was annoying to them.
Fast forward to now.  Brother lives about 20 minutes away. We both got out of the hellhole known as Sauk Village, him to Lockport and me to Plainfield. We still hang out, but not as often as when we were blocks away.  We play poker, have lunch once in a while, do family functions and sporting events and stuff. We often text and IM each other.  I am in printing and so is he, but our paths rarely cross professionally.  We share some friends, a lot of laughs, and some tears.  He turns 50 in just a few days (I think on the 26th, I can never remember dates!!!!!) and reads this blog.  Bro, I just want to wish you an early happy birthday.  We fought a lot, we loved each other a lot, we gone thru happy and sad times, and even though there were days in our youth I would have traded you for a bicycle, I am glad you are my bro.  Welcome to the 50’s!

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