I will forever love my mom and dad for having tons of kids. My mom popped us out about every 12-18 months or so, like some assembly line operation that got wildly out of control.
After me and Doug, three sisters came along: Lori, Lisa and Shauna. Then Gerry.
While my sisters are very special to me -- probably, all of them, much closer to my heart, as females can be, because they're so much about the heart -- my brothers are also very special to me.
And this is about my brothers, two very special dudes.
And the context here is that while my three sisters live here with me in the city we were raised in, my two male siblings are not here. Doug's in Eastern Ontario. Gerry's in northwestern Ontario, about a two-hour drive away.
And us three brothers have only been in sporadic contact in the past 20-30 years or so as we've built our lives and our careers and our families and seen a lot of changes geographically and every which way in all those ways.
Jobs have been abandoned and others have replaced them; dreams have been lost, to be similarly replaced by others; marriages have been lost, with great pain one of the results; but lives have been rebuilt.
Even through all of this, and almost as a sidelight in a way, have re-emerged our brotherly beginnings, our childhood jokes and criticisms and debates, parts of our weird relationships, while all this has gone on.
And this is an amazing thing.
And I need to begin with my brother Doug, whose most memorable words to me ever were: "There is love in silence."
Doug is a very intense and alive soul.
He cares about things most people don't care about. He's a stickler for detail, in some ways, and if he doesn't understand you, he asks -- no, demands -- to know what it is you're talking about.
Doug is far more quiet and cerebral than I am, I think.
The guy is/was brilliant. He's younger than me but in Navy League Sea Cadets, he made the Chief Petty Officer's rank while I was just an "Acting Petty Officer."
So that meant he was my frickin' boss as we were on the poop-deck, the little moron. Actually, he's the farthest thing from a moron. He's super intelligent, both emotionally and intellectually.
I could not/can not match him.
But I sure gave him a tough time when I would try. I remember us both as little boys with blonde, curly hair. He had big wire-rimmed glasses early on, while I didn't get have to get glasses til I was 14 or so.
I was always getting into trouble, going up on the apartment roof-top with the other neighbourhood troublemaker, for instance, to throw little pebbles at the kids below.
Doug was more on the straight and narrow, as I recall.
It's strange how, as a younger brother, he used to hang out with me and my friends. Later on, as teens, I ended up hanging out more with his group of friends than my own.
And he accepted me into that group.
I have always admired Doug for his sensibilities and his no-BS approach to things, even though he could and can be a pain in the ass sometimes. Because he's very intellectual and that's where he argues from.
I usually argue from an emotional point of view. He usually wins those arguments, the cad.
While I was the high school sports guy, he was the president or vice-president of the student council.
Enough said. But I think we have both taught stuff to each other.
And when he was going through his split with his ex, we had very intense exchanges of support or advice, which I'll always remember.
The thing is that now, he has evolved enough to find someone new, and he's found a great job where he can finally use his brilliant talents.
But his unwavering support for his kids and his absolute insistence on being a great dad has always been there.
And perhaps more than anything else, that's what makes Doug a guy anyone should dig.
I admire him greatly. He is an incredible man. I am proud of him and I am proud to say I take lessons from him on how to be a better person.
On to Gerry...
Gerry is the biggest, physically, of us all. But he's the youngest of us all. So for most of us, he was just the young punk kid growing up at 196 Kitson Street. An afterthought, in a way; a late throw-in to the fray.
A last son or brother. Or should that be bother? He has always had attitude.
The thing about Gerry is, he's pretty intense but laid back at the same time. And he looks quite a bit like me, the lucky guy, but in a taller package.
All I can tell you is he's a kibitzer, somewhat like me. And this is no surprise, seeing as he and I hung around quite a bit together when I was a teenager and he was a punk.
And I mean punk only in the most fond of ways.
See, Gerry was a pretty good athlete. He became a very good hocky goaltender, and we spent a lot of time in our basement with me shooting rubber pucks at him and playing hockey.
Those are some of my most happy memories.
My dad was a goalie and so he loved that Gerry was too, and that was one of the things that tied them together, but in another way, it tied Gerry and I together too.
Still, at some point, I moved on to other things. And I kind of evolved away from him as I got involved with women and stuff.
And he and I, at least in some way, partially lost that childhood connection that had seen him come with me searching the backlanes for bugs and stuff or playing spongee on the front street.
Except that when I was about 22 or so and he was about 12, and I was on a trip to India, I received a little letter from him.
It was type-written and not paragraphed, just a bunch of lines thrown all together.
And kind of stuck there in the middle of a glob of sentences on how hockey was going or whatever, out of nowhere, hidden in the thicket of this's and that's, was a line something like this: "I miss you a hell of a lot."
I have always remembered those few words.
But here we are now, all grown up. And he's got an important job running a very important tourist region in northwestern Ontario.
And we see each other from time to time when he comes into the city.
And, as with Doug, we still have some important connection that, now through email, has been reconnected and enhanced. And it's most certainly cool.