A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Monday, October 13, 2008

When's your birthday, little boy. "It's 'tober tirteen"

Today is my baby brother's birthday. Tony was born when I was a freshman in college. Mom thought she had the flu - surprise! We nicknamed him "Virus" for a few months, but then he was so darned cute that we decided to call him by his real name.

I remember the first night he was home from the hospital. It was 2:00am and he began crying. Mom, of course, got up to feed him. But I also got up, as did my sister and my dad. We all huddled around watching this little bundle of joy eat. Then he went back to sleep and so did we. And that was it. Last time any of us (except Mom) got up with the little darlin' in the middle of the night. Once was plenty!

Tony was always incredibly special to me. It was almost like having my own child. I spent as much time as I could with him and, when I got married 5 years later, he would spend many nights at our house. He was such fun to watch as he fell off chairs for no apparent reason, broke handles off doors, walked into stranger's apartments thinking it was ours (and seeing a fat guy sitting there in his underwear - don't know if he ever recovered from that), shoveling snow at our house in Denver, and becoming a nine-year old uncle to my twins.

As they all grew older, the kids always kept a close connection with Tony. He has a sense of humor that will have you crying with laughter. When he and the kids and I get together, we all talk a mile a minute and laugh a lot. Drives other people nuts, but we're fine with it. It's how we were raised!

Tony was always the smartest of the lot. He was one of those kids in school that we all hated - you know the type. Gets their papers done EARLY! Always aces tests. That sort of character. When he was in high school, Tony would be devastated if he got any grade lower than 95. But then there were the times that he would confound us with his questions. Like when he asked my mom why, when they list divorces in the paper, they would only put the last name of the man. Mom looked at me with a raised eyebrow, looked at him, and then said something like, "Yeah, and isn't it funny that they all get divorced in alphabetical order!"

But, in spite of those little setbacks, Tony went on to graduate from Medical School and is now the head of Pediatric Dermatology in a hospital in Chicago. Am I proud. You bet! Because I'm sure it was all my doing that he became so successful. I mean, I'm the one who taught him to tie his shoes!

After medical school Tony came out here to California to do his residency at Stanford. I can't even tell you how wonderful it was to have him around for the four or five years he lived here. And, since we worked in the same hospital, I could see him during the day quite a bit and I relished in every minute we had together. When he moved to Chicago, it took me a long time to get past the fact that I could no longer see him on a daily basis. Drove me to tears many times, but it's all part of life changes.

During his first year - maybe even his first month - of residency he met Nicki who was a nurse at our hosptial. I think he fell in love with her the day he met her. I remember him walking into my office, sitting down, and saying, "I met the cutest nurse in the NICU, but I think she's already involved with somebody." They were friends for a few years, then realized there was much more.

Together they are raising three (soon to be four) kids and have a wonderful life in Chicago. Too far away for my liking, but at least it gives me a fun place to visit a couple of times a year. Tony and Nicki's kids have always felt like grandkids to me because of our age difference. So they hold a special place in my heart beyond the niece and nephew place.

So, here's to my brother. I am awesomely proud of him. Even if he was the only boy in the family and got all the special treatment.....


Daisy said...

Happy Birthday, Tony... I am an only child. Usually I am fine with that. After reading THIS blog entry, I am wondering if maybe I missed out on something. Thanks a lot, Sandi! ;)

Tony said...

Thanks for the great tribute, sis. You have an uncanny ability to be extremely funny and passively aggressive at the same time! I, too, wish we were closer to each other. Maybe when the big one comes and you find yourself living on an island it will be an opportune time to re-locate to our neck of the woods.

namaste said...

happy (belated) birthday to tony! what a beautiful tribute sandi. i never get tired of reading your wonderful family stories!

Nikki said...

Sandi, I have missed reading your blog regularly and what a nice way to pop in and see what is happening to the Italian Babe. What a wonderful tribute and I too wish your bro a Happy Birthday! hugs!:)N

Chatterness said...

That is soooo heartfelt! Love it!

Luz said...

Wonderful story of family. Thanks for sharing and Happy Bday to Tony.

Anonymous said...

Great story! Thank you for visiting my blog too.