Yesterday my phone rang during my students' lunch period. I rarely get calls during the day, and I normally wouldn't be available to answer, but I did. When I heard my oldest brother's voice on the line my stomach initially dropped. When someone unexpectedly calls you at an abnormal time, I think it's natural to assume something is wrong.
Luckily my brother wasn't calling with any bad news. Instead he was calling to see if I needed help. He had just heard of recent power outages in my town, and was calling to see if I needed a generator, which he was willing to bring up right away if we did. We hadn't had any power issues so it wasn't necessary, but that gesture epitomizes my older brother, and exemplifies why I am so thankful to have him in my life.
Don is my oldest of three older brothers. He was 15 years old when I was born, so he's always played the role of protector in my life. There was once a time when I yelled in frustration to my mother that "Don's watching me!" while I rode my Big Wheels around the culdesac our childhood house is on. While my former self was upset by this, as an adult I can't help but look back with gratitude and a full heart, knowing that my big brother was always there, keeping a watchful eye on me. Because he always was, and still does to this day, no matter how old I get.
Don's unbelievably hard working, dedicated, disciplined, and caring. He and my sister-in-law Kate are raising four amazing kids, and he's been very successful in his law enforcement career. It's cliche to say, but my brother would give you the shirt off his back, a "salt of the earth" kind of man.
My relationship with each of my siblings is special and unique. In some ways Don and I are very different, but in many ways we're very much alike. I love hearing the stories he tells of us from my childhood. On one level I just like hearing the stories; my family has never owned a video camera so there is no physical footage of my childhood...but hearing Don's recollections allows me to have those memories. On another level I love hearing those stories because I feel so unbelievably loved by him when he tells them. It must have been strange to be in your late teens and have a baby sister, but Don embraced that relationship, and in doing so we've always been very close despite our age gap.
When I decided to run my first half marathon I asked Don to run it with me. He's the person in my life whom I feel most inspires me to believe in myself. Don is the type of person who can make anyone feel like they can do anything...and I knew there was no one I wanted to be with me on that starting line besides him. As I said earlier, he's my protector. It was his arms into which I jumped when I was scared trick-or-treating one Halloween; it was his house I stayed at in the days leading up to my mother's passing; it's his hand I held on our walks to see the trains or out to see the moon when I was a toddler.
I've always gone through life feeling very secure, and that is in large part because I have Don in my life. It doesn't matter how old I get; I will always need my biggest brother, and I am so thankful that he's always there.