Hello and good day!
The older brother is 22, just out of the army, and going to city college on the GI bill. He studies during the day and works a valet job at night.
He lives with four roommates, all young men of his age, in a bachelor pad. Their house is a party house and the older brother drinks hard whenever he doesn't have school or work the next day.
On the day in question, his alarm clock gives a rude awakening at 7am in the morning.
No class. No work. But he made a promise.
At first, he slaps the alarm clock. He slaps it several times until he finally hits the button that makes the shrill chirping stop. He lays in bed on his side with his eyes closed.
His brain feels like it is surrounded by a thick layer of gel, and his head is so much heavier than it ought to be. There is a coating of phlegm stuck to the roof of his mouth and his throat is so dry he can barely swallow.
"Why am I up? Why? Why?" he groans to himself.
Through the fog of his hangover, he remembers the night before.
He remembers staring at himself in the bathroom mirror, his eyes bloodshot red and drooping, his head involuntarily drifting back and forth from side to side.
"You will get up tomorrow. You will get up tomorrow. You have to get up tomorrow," he slurred to himself in the mirror.
He remembers sitting wobbly in bed setting the alarm clock. It was only four and a half hours ago. He lets out a loud sigh and throws off his covers.
"Ok. Come on," he says to himself before stumbling to the bathroom for a shower.
Across town, an 8-year-old boy tugs on his mother's sleeve in the kitchen. She is dressed in a business suit and pouring a bowl of cereal for the boy. The boy is on summer break and his mom is on her way to work.
"Is he coming mom? Is he coming?" asks the boy.
"Your brother is never late honey. You know that. And I have to leave for my meeting in five minutes so I'm sure he'll be here. Now eat your breakfast honey."
Just as the boy finishes slurping the milk from his bowl, there is a honk outside. The mother looks at her watch. Just in time.
"Come on now honey. Grab your stuff, let's go."
The boy puts on a San Diego Chargers hat. His brother gave it to him and it's his favorite.
The mother grabs her brief case and they run out of the house, locking the door behind them.
On the street, the older brother waits in a small, blue pickup truck.
"You made it honey. Thank you so much," says the mother to the older brother..
The older brother's voice is hoarse. He drank a half gallon of orange juice at home, but nothing could alleviate the dryness in his throat.
"I made a promise to my little bro here, didn't I? Today's his birthday and I'm taking him shoe shopping. Get in little man," says the older brother.
"Bye mom," says the little boy.
"Bye bye honey, happy birthday. Have fun with your brother."
There is nothing like the feeling of your hero showing up.
The little boy doesn't realize that his hero smells like beer and cigarettes from the night before. All he knows is that his 22-year-old brother is the coolest person in the world, and he came like he said he would.
At Nordstrom's Rack, the little boy walks next to his brother, smiling the whole time. The smile is so persistent and exuberant that people in the store stop and stare.
One older man can't help himself and asks what all the grinning is about.
"Why are you smiling like that son?" he asks.
"It's my birthday and my brother is buying me a pair of shoes. This is him right here."
The little boy grabs his brother's hand and holds it in the air, as if he were announcing the winner of a boxing match.
"Good man," says the older fellow.
The older brother sits the little boy on a wooden bench in the middle of long metal racks filled with shoes.
"This section has your size. Sit here and I'll start bringing over boxes with your coolest options," says the older brother.
After a short while, there is a tall stack of shoeboxes. The older brother unties and takes off his younger brother's shoes.
Down on his knees, one pair at a time, he puts test pairs on his younger brother's feet, laces them up, and tells his little bro to walk up and down the aisle. While the little bro walks, the older brother analyzes and comments.
This goes on for an hour until the two brothers decide on a winning pair.
At the cashier, the older brother takes out his wallet and pulls out cash to pay for the shoes.
"This is my older brother. It's my birthday. He's buying me these shoes," says the little boy to the cashier, putting a hand on his older brother's shoulder.
"He's a good kid," says the older brother.
The two go out to lunch.
In the afternoon, the older brother takes his little bro home. There is a babysitter waiting.
Back at the bachelor pad, the older brother collapses into bed and sleeps off his hangover.
My brother gave the best man toast at my wedding.
In it he said that what he appreciated most about having a little brother was that I always saw him as a hero, even when he was living in a way that was far from heroic.
Both my brother and I dealt with serious substance abuse problems as young men.
But here is one thing that I can say about my brother.
He always showed up.
I didn't know what he was going through and I didn't care.
It didn't affect my opinion of him one way or another.
All I cared about was that there was this guy who was fourteen years older than me, and I thought he was the best person in the world, and he always showed up when he said he would.
And if this great guy wanted to hang with me, that must have meant that I was pretty great too.
There is an important lesson in this.
Just because your life is far from perfect doesn't mean that somebody doesn't see you as a hero.
And you can keep your hero status by simply showing up and doing your duty when you are supposed to.
That is a true story about me and my brother by the way.
The photo below is of me and my bro when I was little.
He is fourteen years older than me and growing up he assumed that he'd be an only child forever.
Now we own a chocolate business together.
Thank you so much for time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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