On Friday my youngest brother turned older because it was his birthday.
In my family, sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get to pick what you have for dinner when it’s your birthday, and Josh has picked Kentucky Fried Chicken every year for the past many (to my mother’s chagrin), so that was what happened on Friday. The only odd part: Josh didn’t end up joining us for dinner. So we ate (well, my family ate) chicken without him before joining him at a feather bowling place across town.
On Saturday I said to him, around lunchtime, while I was hungry, “Josh, it’s like: I want to eat real food, but instead I’m just eating snacks.”
And he said, “I guess you’re just a Snackasaurus.”
To which I laughed. I also laughed when he told me this story about how Paul and he were going to go watch a movie at a friend’s house on Saturday and Josh said he found himself thinking, “Hmmm, which toy should I bring?” before remembering that he is an adult and he doesn’t have any toys anymore (“…and I remember thinking, ‘I can’t bring the Legos, they’re too messy’…”).
I remember the day back in the 90’s when my parents called a “family meeting” and we thought for sure we were in trouble: David, Christine, Paul and I, but instead they were like, “So, we’re having another baby”…the baby who would turn out to be Josh.
My oldest brother, David, asked first, “Is it a boy or a girl?”
And they responded masculine; and maybe, then, David asked about a due date…but, really, I was too young to understand time and seasons so that part is lost.
I remember the day they brought him home, though. We made a sign for him, my siblings and my Aunt Lynn, our designated caretaker, and the sign said, “Welcome home!” and the “H” had a roof like I house and I was like, “This is the best thing, I hope the baby likes this sign!”
And then my mom and dad pulled up, from the hospital, and my mom stepped out of the car and I shouted at her, from our doorframe, “Mom! Hi! Did you remember the baby?”
And she said, “Yes, he’s right here.”
And I shouted, “Is he awake??”
And she said, “Yes, and he wants to meet you guys.”
Then they brought him into the house and I looked at his squishy newborn face and I thought (said?), “Well. He doesn’t look awake to me” because he was brand new and his eyes were squinted.
And that was my first thought. That was the day I met Joshua. Isn’t it strange how life works? In retrospect, I should have been like, “Hello. And thanks for all of the many, many ways you’ll influence my life and for all of the beautiful contributions you’ll make to the world.”
Like, for instance, how he insisted on wearing these baby snakeskin cowboy boots everywhere as a child, even when they were much too small and, to this day, my mother will say things like, “I’m so glad Joshua’s feet turned out alright even after he insisted on stuffing them in those awful cowboy boots.”
Or the time, when my mom was busy (because: mom) and Josh was still nonverbal, and he pushed a kitchen chair to our refrigerator and climbed on our refrigerator to find the chips because that’s where my mom kept them because he had a junk food phase as a child. And my mom found him and imagine that reaction, why don’t you.
I remember his little “I’m a cool dude” phase (“PHASE”??? Ha) where the only thing he wanted to wear were clothes with Mickey Mouse on them and my mom convinced him that Mickey Mouse lived in the log cabin on a pair of kiddie overalls just so he’d wear something decent to our grandmother’s house. But then I was like, “I don’t think Mickey Mouse lives in there…” until I saw my mother give me the dirtiest look.
I remember he “’Not I,’ said the fly” phase where he’d push the sibling buttons to the max, bothering us incessantly with all kinds of annoyances until we were furious and then he’d giggle and say, “’Not I,’ said the fly,” (this doesn’t even make sense, I know), but, then we’d laugh, too, and we wouldn’t be mad anymore.
I remember the time on the first Camino when we were walking (duh) having just finished a rosary, praying the “Hail Holy Queen” where we say, “Grant, we beseech thee, that by meditating upon these mysteries of the most holy rosary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise” and he told us that that was one of his favorite prayers: asking them to uphold their end of the bargain.
I remember him preparing for Dave & Esther’s wedding with his Best Man speech, making up a song and dance routine regarding the pet prairie dog I found on Craigslist, practicing rudimentary Spanish together so he could pass his college class, talking about the deep moments of Easter last spring.
They’re all short, small memories…but, small stories like these fills days and days turn into years and: here we are.
On Friday, before we went feather bowling, the ladies stopped into this little antiques store, just to browse, and I found a bin full of old photographs. The photos were all black and white: there was a young soldier with dark eyebrows, big ears, a tilted hat and a big grin–and I wondered who he was thinking about when he grinned like that and if he sent her the photo and where she kept it. There was one of a baby in the sun on a baby-seat in what looked to be a backyard. And I wondered who took that joy-filled photo and whatever happened of that baby.
Life is delicate like that. Delicate and full of sacred moments that we’ll never have again. Instead, all we have are snapshot-like memories and, hopefully, days ahead.
Here. I just handed you some of the stories of my favorite Snackasaurus, the one I call “Baby Josh.” Maybe it was like handing you a photo and you’re like, “There’s so much more that I could know” and, you’re correct, because this is around one thousand words but really Josh’s life is cooler and funnier and more vibrant. This is true. All I can say is: I’m lucky I know the man, that’s for sure. I lucky to have seen these memories in real-life, real-time. I’m lucky for all the times he got sick on my shift of the paper route, all the times he wore a cowboy costume everywhere as a child, the times he “mowed the lawn” with his toy mower, play goggles and his shirt off (this shirt-off theme is a common one). For all the years I’ve eaten French Fries on November 7th instead of fried chicken: yes, please. And many more, if you don’t mind. I’m lucky to be this older sister. Family life for the win.
Happy birthday, goober-face.
Why you wanna count my money?