Ever since I can remember Ricky would take things apart and put them back together with the greatest of ease. We must be yin and yang because I am completely clueless in all the ways that he is a genius. I'm constantly calling him with questions about my computer, internet, cable box, printer, phone, you name it. If it's anything technical, I call my brother because I am mentally stuck in the third-grade with an apple computer playing Oregon Trail; that's the level of my technical ability.
To be honest, my brother and I haven't always gotten along. We are each others only sibling and we are almost five years apart in age. I think that fact had a lot to do with our difficulties meshing well while we were growing up. He was the cool older brother and I was the dorky little sister. And yes, he tortured me. I remember vividly being handcuffed to the oven handle while my brother babysat me right after my mom gave him a "real pair of policeman handcuffs." Great gift idea, Mom.
There was also another time when my brother was babysitting me and we were watching TV. I wanted to watch cartoons and he wanted to watch Top Gun or something so instead of arguing, he just looked over my shoulder at the big windows surrounding our dining room table and said, "Oh my gosh! I just saw a man with a gun! Get under the table and hide! Quick!" Being an eight-year-old innocent little girl, I darted under the table and pulled me knees up to my chest, wrapped my arms around my legs and pulled my eyes shut. And I waited, and waited. My brother just watched TV, "on the look out" for the return of the shooter. When I would try to inch my way out from under the table and say, "Ricky . . . is he still there?" My brother would reply, "Oh gosh! Yes! There he is again! You better stay under there!" At least he was creative . . .
That kind of interaction is the sort that usually happened when we were kids. But there were a few shining moments where I got to see how much my brother really cared, between the bouts of torture.
My girl friend LeAnn Sheets and I would spend our afternoons rollerskating around the apartment complex, and pretending to be mermaids in the big complex pool. There was a mean little boy named Wesley who would torment us by following us around, calling us names and finally actually pushing us around physically. My brother would skateboard around the neighborhood with his friends, but our paths rarely crossed. One seemingly typical day Wesley had my friend LeAnn and I cornered next to one of the apartment buildings. Out of nowhere, my brother appeared and grabbed Wesley by the throat. He picked him up and held him up against the wall by his neck. He said, "If you ever go near my sister and her friends again, I'll beat the shit out of you." Wesley squirmed and yelped and said, "Okay! Okay! Let me go!" And Ricky let him go and walked away. It's one of the coolest things anyone has ever done for me.
As we have grown into adulthood, we have become closer. The men in my family are not as emotional and communicative as the women, but my brother definitely tells me what he thinks and gives me advice when it is needed. And I have also learned that even if he can't verbalize it, my pain and troubles are his pain and troubles. He's still just as protective of me as that day at Post Lake apartments and I'm forever grateful.
So, to my brother on his graduation day - You are a bad ass, and I love you.