My brothers Tommy and Brown are 82 and 83 today…. born a year apart the same date – “Irish Twins”. I was born 6 years & 6 days later. Wow, we’re not “spring chickens” anymore.
We are spread out from St. Louis to Arizona to New Jersey and now Florida. Most of my family memories are contained in a pretty short period of time. My siblings were all away at school when our father died in 1956. Afterwards, we moved back to St. Louis lived together for a few years. Tommy and Brown moved out after graduating college. So it was “me and Granny” for the last several years until I was married in 1969 at 22.
I speak with my brothers on a fairly regular basis, yet our “in person visits” are pretty rare. The last time the whole gang was together was in 1996 at my mother’s funeral…26 years ago. Granny was the glue that kept us together.
Despite not being together much at all over the years, I still love my brothers. When we do talk, we tend to laugh at the same things. You can tell we have the same DNA. We went to the same high school (Chaminade) and college (St. Louis University). In fact all of my family, including my sister and my father and cousins and uncles, went to St. Louis U. We root for the Cardinals. We commiserate over the state of the world….and most importantly we share about the Lord.
If you were observing our life together back in the ‘60’s you may have thought it was a bit dysfunctional …and it actually was. We lived in a 3rd floor apartment in St. Louis owned by a Jewish family. We were always rushing somewhere… trying to get off to school, getting to mass, going to work, handling the “crisis du jour”. It was a bit nuts but we generally “rolled with the punches”. Tommy had a ’52 Ford and Brown a ’49 Green Dodge that looked like a Giant Frog …. both “clunkers.” It was great entertainment each morning as they worked to jump start their cars with the usual dead battery…. ”Keep pushing…faster, push faster….. pop the clutch, pop the clutch….. cough, cough, cough …. smoke, the engine revving and they were off”. The neighbors used to sell popcorn as they watched the drama unfold, the saga often ending with a standing ovation.
I’m happy that Tommy & Brown know the Lord, especially after a lifetime of ups and downs. When we speak we usually end our conversation with a prayer and promise to pray for each other’s intentions. We talk about heaven. So happy birthday Tommy & Brown. I love you and I do hope to do some serious catchup one day in heaven where every car will start without being jump started. .
- You may think “Brown” is an unusual name. Actually his real name is Neal Joseph; Brown is a nickname shortened from “Buster Brown” who was the mascot for the Brown Shoe Company in St. Louis… also the owners of the infamous St. Louis Browns baseball team.
- My sister Libby, who is 10 years older than me, will be 86 this October. I pray for her every day. Her actual name is Elizabeth Jane. She was the “brains of the outfit.”