Sunday, January 13, 2008

Happy Birthday to my Little Brother

My little brother is turning 26 on Tuesday. It's amazing to me that he's 26...cause that means I'm 34!!! YIKES! =) I remember the events of his birth as if it happened yesterday. He really shouldn't even be here but there was a miracle going on that day - the 15th of January, 1982 - and it was all for my brother.

I have to preface this all with the fact that my mother was a raging alcoholic and drug abuser. And being pregnant didn't stop her. Oh and she smoked Marlboro Reds...just to add insult to injury.

She went into labor roughly 9 weeks early and in 1982 the technology was not nearly what it is today. My dad was out for the evening (with no way to reach him seeing as cell phones really hadn't been invented yet!!) and I was home drinking a chocolate/banana shake that my mother had made for me in the blender...they were one of my favorites as a kid. She was on the phone with a friend when her water broke - she thought the refrigerator was leaking.

Thankfully and surprisingly enough she was sober and able to drive me down the street to a friend's house and drive herself to our local hospital. They took one look at her and decided that the best decision was to airlift her to The Brigham and Women's hospital in Boston for the type of care that she (and my brother) were going to need. They tried to stop her labor - and kept her in labor for roughly 72 hours. Nothing they could do was stopping him from being born. He was born somewhere in the ballpark of a couple of pounds and proceeded to lose weight until he was about a pound and a few ounces. He was so small that he fit in the palm of my dad's hand.

He received the BEST care possible and I am still thankful to the entire staff that worked at the Brigham back then for saving him and keeping him healthy. He had to have 6 hernia operations due to the stress of being born so early, he was fed intravenously through the soft spot in his head because his veins had not fully developed yet and he lived in an incubator for weeks covered in tubes, wires, sticky nodes and all kind of tape.

And although the memory is fuzzy for me (I was only 9 at the time) I believe he was in the hospital for a couple of months.

The gravity of the situation didn't hit me back then and it didn't truly occur to me how lucky he is to be alive until I was an adult. But it really hit me when I became a mother myself. My anger at our mother rose to my surface with a vengeance and I just wanted to rage at her for doing what she had done to him in utero and causing him such potential and life threatening harm.

My Mother with my brother - maybe around his 1st birthday...probably a little before...he may have been 10 months or so here:
When I had my daughter my mother was about 49ish. She was in a long term care facility in a vegetative state where she'd been for the previous 15 years due to the effects of drugs and alcohol. (too long of a story to get into the details) But that wasn't the time for me to rage against her for it was too late.

She died 2 years ago when I was pregnant with my son. She was buried on her birthday, January 26th...she would have turned 52 that year.

But my brother and I are - in my opinion - the spitting image of her. I look at him and I see her, I look at her in pictures and I see him. I look in the mirror and I see her all the time. And I look at my son and I see her...I see her in his eyes...all...the...time. So I know that all of the good things she had and embodied are with us. (including my craftiness!! she LOVED art, crafts, and fun projects)

My Mother with my brother - he was probably 5-6 months old here: (this picture lives on my fridge and always has)
Her antics, her bad behavior, her demons and her pain all went with her.

Here's a shot of my brother and I 5 years ago at my SIL's wedding:
Celebrating with me at my 30th Playboy Mansion Pajama party:

Wow...this post didn't quite go where I had envisioned!!! Sorry about the intensity of it. It started with this beautiful card that I've made for my brother!! He means as much to me as my husband and children. He is a part of our core family unit - here - in this house, he is a part. I talk to him 2 or 3 times a day. He is almost a daily part of my children's life - which is a must. I want him to truly know them and visa versa. It killed me when he lived so far away...I didn't know how much so until he moved home last February. I sobbed (happily) when he told me that he was coming back. Having him here and in our lives is worth everything I own and then some.

Having just flown in from NOLA to come to the hospital to meet his niece for the first time:
Being a brother to my husband - who has only one sister...
Along with my SIL my brother is teaching my daughter to play skee ball at our Aunt Mary's house on Christmas's a tradition...

Being the best Uncle that my children could ever have...

Ok...sooooooo enough, enough. =)

Card details!

Everything I used is SU! except the fleur-de-lis stamp. I got that a long time ago at the Paper Source. Oh and the hemp twine I got at Michael's. I used the following cardstock: Real Red, Creamy Caramel, Close to Cocoa, and Whisper White. My brother went to Tulane and I think of NOLA whenever I see a fleur-di-lis image and that always made me think of him when he wasn't around so it was an easy go to choice for this card. I stamped the image in Versamark and then covered it in SU! red embossing tinsel. I heated it with my heat gun and set the images.

I then scrunched up the Cocoa, Caramel and White to give it a distressed look. I ran chocolate grosgrain ribbon and the hemp twine around the caramel layer and tied it all on the left side just so it would pop out from the edge. I punched the open photo corner punches on the caramel so that I could thread the white through. But before I did that I ran my SU! chocolate inkpad over the entire sheet of both caramel and white to distress it even further.
I am so happy with how this all came out!!!
I hope that my brother has a WONDERFUL birthday and the best, best, best year ever! He deserves all the best that this life has to offer.

I love you little brother...always...


nita said...

damn you woman.

i love him, too.


Unknown said...

Oh sweetie, I know how hard that post must have been to write, but also so refreshing to have it all written and out there.

I can not believe that Ethan is 26. Sigh. Please give him a big hug and smooch from me.

The card is totally perfect. Well done.

Anonymous said...

that just about brought me to tears. What a long road it's been!!!!
Happy Birthday Ethan.

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow. That is quite the story. I'm still wiping away the tears. CUTE brother, wonderful for all of you that you are so close. And a nice card, too. But that always goes without saying - you are so talented.