One of the great things about marrying Tom was inheriting a pack of younger brothers. When I say pack, I mean PACK: Steve, Joe, Russ, Mike, Robbie, and John. He also has two older brothers, Kenny and Randy!
I was the youngest of four, myself, and had always wanted a little brother or sister. Anytime my mom went to the hospital, I asked her, "Will you bring home a baby?" I'll admit it...I think one reason I wanted a younger sibling was so that I could be the tormentor rather than just the tormentee, but by the time I married Tom and became a big sister, I had gotten over that, which is good, considering I was outnumbered and most of them were bigger than me.
I met most of my new brothers on my first trip to Maryland. Kenny (Nebraska), Steve (South Dakota), and Joe (California) were all in the Air Force. Tom had given me a group photo so I could memorize faces and names beforehand; he quizzed me along the way.
"Quick - who's number four?" (Steve)
"Number seven?" (Mike)
He'd change it up to try and catch me: "What number's Russ?" (six)
By the time we hit D.C., I could name them in order. But I was getting really nervous. Would I be able to tell them apart? And what if they didn't like me?
Well, they did, thank goodness, and it turned out to be easy to tell them apart, once their personalities came into the mix. By the time we left, I truly did feel like they were my brothers.
They all came for the wedding a few months later (except Joe.) Like a good big sister, I took Russ, Mike and Robbie to the mall to get them out of the house, listening sympathetically when they complained to me about how they were treated like kids by the older guys. Geez, I was twenty-three, and they weren't that much younger than me - Robbie was eighteen, but Mike was almost twenty, and Russ was practically twenty-one. They weren't kids!
Russ turned forty-seven last Friday and Mike hits forty-six today. But I still think of them the way they looked that first year, the year I became a big sister.
Happy birthday month, guys!