My baby brother and his gal came down to Chicago from Milwaukee on Saturday to celebrate his 27th birthday. The rain thwarted our grilling plans, so we munched on stovetop burgers and oven-baked hot and jerk wings. Cupcakes came from Alliance Bakery down the street, and Joey received a Capitalist Pig–my favorite gift to give these days– from me and an heirloom copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations from Papo that our parents used to source their wedding vows from almost thirty years ago. We went around in a circle with the book, each of us closing our eyes and opening to a random page. Joey’s was fitting for the only son and the birthday boy: “Enter upon your inheritance, accept your responsibilities.”
When he was little, Joey would sit at our kitchen table and open the dictionary to random words, copying them into a notebook with their definitions. He would then taunt me around the house: “Spell dysfunctional.” “Use amalgam in a sentence.” “What does termagant mean?” Papo gave him this book with the hopes that he will continue to do the same, only with quotes instead of words this time.
It wasn’t just one occasion that we were celebrating: that evening our father flew to Frankfurt where he stayed one night, and then went on to India (he is probably on a plane as I type this) where he will be a guest of the State Department for three weeks, traveling around the country and giving lectures and talks on aquaponics and urban farming. The protective daughter in me is a terrified but proud, ecstatic but wary, wanting constant contact but recognizing that as he let me move about the world at 17, I have to do the same for him at 65.
NOTE: My Sunday post, in which I (try to) post photos that sum up the week for me, is on a Monday this week and today is Memorial Day. I have all of our service members in my thoughts and prayers today but special recognition goes out to our LGBT members, past and present, of the armed forces. President Obama may have repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but those changes have not been fully implemented and countless men and women continue to serve in silence. I hope that Memorial Day 2012 brings something different.
Here’s to a safe, happy and fun-filled day of remembrance for all of us! Happy Memorial Day.