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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Valentine

Brotherly Love

The best protection any woman can have... is courage. Elizabeth Cady Stanton

These little cherub faces belong to my brothers. They are 12 and 9 1/2 years between us. There are special things that happen when you have brothers…especially when you are the first girl to show up. There is a great sense of protection with two older brothers, but you are also subject to some serious pranks.

Both of my brothers called me Steve. It’s funny hearing my older brother’s children trying to figure out should they call me Aunt Steve or Aunt Stephanie. With two big brothers, you never had to worry about anyone bothering you. There was just a huge understanding that my sister and I were not to be messed with. We made sure not to abuse this protection. I think most families have an odd thing or two that they can laugh at now. In my family, the boys enjoyed mayonnaise sandwiches and the girls enjoyed ketchup sandwiches. It is exactly the way it sounds. Back in those days, we didn’t know how bad white bread was for you so we ate Wonder Bread with Miracle Whip (mayonnaise sandwiches) and Wonder Bread with Heinz ketchup. The girls never embraced the mayo sandwiches and the boys thought ketchup sandwiches were weird.

In our apartment building there were a few families with the same last name and it wasn’t unusual for our mail to get mixed up from time to time. Well this particular time, we received a draft notice for Steven H. My brothers had me convinced that I had been drafted. My mother hadn’t gotten home yet so they almost had me in tears. They had their Boy Scouts trunks out ready to pack me up and ship me off to war. It’s a good thing my mom came home when she did. Those two got a good laugh out of it.

My brothers were boy scouts and we could always depend on them for some fun stories from their overnight camps. They taught us a song from their fireside meetings – Sardines, hey and pork and beans, hey. It tickles me now to think about it.

My older brother is the one who really made us tough. My younger brother mentored us in other skills. I remember my other brother attending my middle school choir concert. He was standing up all the way in the back of the auditorium. My mom was first row center smiling the whole time. My chorus teacher gave me a solo which I didn’t think was a good idea to start with. My voice sticks out so I think she thought I would be able to handle a solo. The song was “My Way”. The chorus teacher wanted me to get fancy on the line that says, I find it all so amusing. She wanted me to go up on the “So”. The auditorium was full, I was nervous and my voice cracked. That’s what I get for not breathing from my diaphragm. I managed to get through the song and the rest of the concert, but when we got off that stage, I just cried. Well, my brother was on his way to the chorus room. He saw me and said, I know you aren’t crying Steve. I had to hurry up and drink back those tears. It was his way of showing his support and that no one had better be teasing me for sounding such a mess. I was comforted and protected in one fell swoop.

I live miles away from my brother now. We are both busy with our families, but if there is bad weather headed to Georgia, you can believe that he is sending me a text to make sure I am aware. He’s isn’t perfect, but he is a wonderful big brother and we perfectly love each other.

Tune in for the next post and I will share some thoughts about my younger brother.

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