A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Thursday, May 10, 2007

My Baby Brother

One of the added benefits of my son's wedding last weekend was that my brother, Tony, came out from Chicago for the event. When he's around, we do a lot of laughing and reminiscing. I was 18 when he was born, a freshman in college. My mom was 42 and thought she had a virus so went to the doctor for an antibiotic. We actually would refer to little Tony as "virus" every once in awhile! But here he is carrying Eamon on his shoulders at the wedding.

My mom's pregnancy wasn't an easy one, but we were all so excited when he was born. Because Mom had such difficulties, the doctor decided to schedule a C-Section. The earliest date he had avalable was October 13 which freaked out my mom a bit because she didn't like the idea that sometimes Tony's birthday would be on Friday the 13th. But we got her past that. Of course, we had no idea that the baby was a boy - back then no one knew such things in advance. I was in college and really wanted to be at the hospital when the baby was born. I was painfully shy back then so when I asked my instructor if I could miss class that Thursday (oh, yes, I was also a little chicken shit who was afraid to cut a class!!), he asked me why. I quietly and sheepishly explained that my mom was having a baby. Well, this was an Italian class and the instructor was a typical Italian man. Very loudly he said - in front of the classroom - "Wow, I've heard a lot of excuses in my time but telling me you need to miss class because your mom is having a baby is a new one!!" I wanted to fall through the floor. I mean, now all those students would know that my parents still "did it"! Horrifying!

The first night we had Tony at home, he woke up at 2:00am crying. I popped out of bed, my dad woke up, my sister woke up. We all crowded around my mom as she changed and fed him. Cooing, making those ridiculous sounds adults make around babies, savoring every moment. Finally mom was done, Tony was asleep again, and we all went back to bed. That was the one and ONLY night we got up to help! The rest of the time mom was on her own. No more of that middle of the night stuff for us.

I lived at home during college so always felt like I had a hand in raising him. He was totally a great kid. Had a low frustration threshhold, fell out of chairs for no apparent reason, and managed to be sick almost every Halloween and Christmas - but a great kid nonetheless. Tony was only five when I got married and my husband loved telling people that he had a 5-year old brother in law. He spent a lot of time with us and was only nine when my kids were born so they practically grew up together. Which made us all very close.

Here he is with me on a beach at the age of 2 and at my wedding when he was five.

Tony and I are still close, but sadly don't get to see each other as often as I would like. He did come to California after medical school to do his residency and it was so wonderful having him around. Since we were both working at the same hospital, I got to see him a lot. When he moved to Chicago there was such a hole in my life. For several months the kids and I thought about following him and his wife out there. Now he has a family of his own - three children! He so often felt more like a son to me than a brother, and he'll always have a very special place in my heart.

While he was out here last weekend he needed to use my car. When I gave him the keys, he noticed a brown leather "S" on the key ring. He said, "Hey, this is like the one I made you in junior high." I said, "No, that IS the one you made me in junior high!" It's been on my key ring for 30 years and is a daily reminder of the little "virus" who changed all our lives 42 years ago.


Catheroo said...

First, I can't believe you were ever "painfully shy." :-)

And I never knew that Uncle Tony was so close in age to Jenni and Joe. How cool is that? Jenni always speaks so highly of him, I'm glad I got to meet him.

And thank you, for brining a tear to my eye. I love that you still carry something that your little brother gave you so long ago. It is so sweet, and you are an awesome sister (and mom, too!)htt

Wendy said...

My mom is 10 years older than her little brother. They are also very close. Makes me feel better to hear this because I have to lose a bunch of weight before having anymore and Jayke is already 3 so there will be at least 4 or 5 years in between them. I'm not giving up on having more though. I am an only child (with step sisters)and it is lonely. I don't want that for my son.

Jenni said...

I miss Tony too. It was so much fun having him out here, and I wish we all got to hang out together more often. He had Vika and Eamon laughing so hard when he was over, that they completely fell in love with him! The next generation of Tony fans. :)

Desert Diva said...

You're so lucky to have such a wonderful "little brother." I can't believe you still have (and use) the keychain he made for you so many years ago!

Arlene said...

That is so cute, and I love that you call him a little virus!!

Tony said...

Just me, the "virus" here . . . Thanks for the touching words, sis. I, too, wish we lived closer to each other, and a trip like the one I took last weekend always drives that harsh reality home. I've not said it enough, but I am really proud of you and all that you have accomplished. You will always be more than a sister . . . you're a true friend. You're also kinda cool (especially when you're not doing that funky little dance step). I love you.