Someone to Watch Over Me

Bruce doesn’t smoke. Doesn’t drink. Doesn’t swear. Never has. Never will. He married his high school sweetheart. They’re still together. They’ll always be together.

He was a high school track star. Made some great football plays, too. Corn is his idea of a vegetable.. Cheese only on his pizza, please. His musical tastes run Mantovani (remember him?) to Neil Diamond. And, of course, Ronald Reagan belongs on Mount Rushmore.

Bruce is a successful senior executive with Mitsubishi, making regular treks to Japan, and working in the energy field. His philosophy toward life and Wall Street is simple–god, not greed, is good.

Some might call Bruce old-fashioned. Others in this cynical, do-anything-for-me culture might consider Bruce out-of-touch, naive, or, as they used to say…square.

i call him brother.

And, more to the point my older brother. Birth order always matters, especially when you’re the youngest sibling, like me.

His birthday is this week. Bruce will be 48. It’s hard for me to believe I have a brother who is about to turn 48. I know–it’s probably harder for him to believe.

Bruce has been a part of my life since the very first day I can remember as a young boy in Spokane. My life is filled with memories shared by Bruce. Cheering for him at football games. Tagging along on dates with his future wife. Camping in Yosemite and the Grand Tetons on a brothers’ vacation. Having him drive me off to college that very first time. Countless Christmas holidays at his home in Indiana.

Mom and Dad raised three sons. They loved us all equally and never played favorites. Still, someone had to come first. And someone had to come last. That biological truth shaped our lives, our relationship.

My parents named their first born Bruce Wayne, but my brother has never been the dark, brooding Batman-type. Actually, he’s always seemed more like Superman. More powerful than a locomotive, definitely. Faster than a speeding bullet, especially when I’ve needed help. Capable of leaping tall buildings and high hurdles to get the job done. Capable of just about anything–I’ve never know this guy to fail.

Isn’t that what’s expected of the oldest child? To take charge. To be the responsible one. To rarely, if ever fail. They host the family gatherings. They look after the family business affairs. They deal with the doctor or the hospital when a parent faces medical issues.

Bruce has done all this. and more. He’s probably had his share of moments when he’s worried about me, second guessing the personal and professional choices I was making. We are seven years apart in age, light years apart on just about everything from politics to lifestyle. Are we close? To a degree. We’re brothers, bonded by family and blood, not friends brought together by common interests.

Yes, we should talk on the phone more. Yes, a few more emails would be nice. More time together would be positive. But what Bruce and I have is unique. It’s special.

I know I could live to be 80, my life full and successful. Wouldn’t matter. My older brother would still be concerned, still looking out for me. I’ve learned to accept that and I think Bruce has finally learned to accept me–to accept that his younger brother has chosen to follow a different life path.

The books by Billy Graham no longer arrive in the mail. No more questions about when I’m going back to teaching. Now we tease each other about our differences.

So on his birthday, I’d like to remind Bruce about what a positive influence he’s had on my life.

Look up in the sky.

It’s a bird…It’s a plane.

No. Even better.

It’s my older brother. Watching over me.

San Luis Obispo County Telegram-Tribune (April 1994)

Published by Dave Congalton

Writer. Radio Host. Screenwriter. Enjoying the Good Life on California's Central Coast.

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