Dear Big Brother David,
As I sit here writing I'm trying to figure out how you can possibly be turning seventy this week and how I will soon be fifty-six. Where did all those years go? What happened to that big lively family of seven kids in the old neighborhood at Center on our beloved Vashon Island?
I still remember climbing up in your lap and generally making a pest of myself. I remember when you seemed as tall as a giant, a lanky kid with a mop of dark hair and an infectious laugh and ready smile, while I toddled around with Fisher-Price pull toys. Just before my fourth birthday you graduated from high school and began to exist for me as a kind of mythical figure who left home and returned in a Coast Guard uniform, bearing gifts including a badly stretched sock full of pennies you'd saved. It might as well have been a pirates treasure chest. And I haven't forgotten the real grass skirts from some tropical isle. We little sisters spent hours hula dancing to the music of 45s on the old record player.
Remember the time you showed up in the driveway, unexpectedly, on a motorcycle... with a BEARD, of all things? THAT caused some excitement! Then you settled into marriage and raising your own kids and I didn't see you as often but always looked forward to the times I did. I appreciated you coming to my high school graduation and still have the necklace you gave me then.
These days when most families don't have seven kids spread out over twenty years little girls don't know what it is to have a big brother like you, a kind of a hero, a brother who became a science teacher, owned a real boa constrictor, had endless curiosity, collected interesting things and knew the names of all kinds of rocks and fossils. I wish we could have shared the same memories and laughs you have in common with your other siblings from those earlier days of our family's history. I came along late and things had changed. My childhood, mostly in the '60s, had a whole different flavor than yours. But you've always been special to me.
Now that we're both adults (and then some) I enjoy the real closeness we've found, the way we share news of our lives, joke around, and talk about "the Family" and all it's idiosyncrasies, the happy and sad times, the joys and aggravations of relationships. Maybe we never rode bikes together or teased each other in the back seat of the car, but you've still been, and always will be, one of my favorite people and connected to me in deep and enduring ways.
I love you David. When I walk down at Point Defiance here in Tacoma and see the ferry make its same old run over to the island, I'm often overwhelmed with emotions and memories of growing up there. You're always part of them. I hope this birthday is just one of many, many more to come and that life still holds wonderful adventures and surprises for you, better even than a sock full of pennies or a real grass skirt.
Happy Birthday,with love from your baby sister.