Today is my brother's birthday, so let me tell you something about him. Without his knowledge, of course. Brian was born 23 days before my first birthday. His arrival filled the vacuum of our grandmother's longing to spoil a grandson. We are the first two grandchildren on both our parents' families. I was everybody's pet but Brian was our Lola's bon enfant, her Baby Bon. Truly, I cringe at the thought of Brian as Baby Bon! But yes, Lola had only eyes for him. After dinner, you would find them together sitting on the floor playing bug-oy, a game of shells, or blowing bubbles in the air, playing taksi (tatsing), or simply staying at grandmother's kitchen, keeping her company. Of course, Lola disciplined him when he was naughty. She spanked him with a strip of coconut leaf we call lukay that was more ticklish than painful.
Brian slept beside our grandmother since he was a young boy. We all slept under a huge mosquito net but nobody could sleep beside Lola but Brian. We would inhale Lola's baby powder scent, play with the loose skin under her arms, listen to her stories, but when it's time to sleep, the pillow beside her was reserved for Baby Bon.
When Brian graduated from grade school, while his name was being called and he was walking towards the stage, Lola was looking at him with such love and pride that the emcee announced "Indi n'yo na paglantawa ang ma-graduate, lantawa na lang ang iya Lola!" (Don't look at the graduate, just look at his grandmother.)
He walked with a slight bounce that kept me in gales of laughter when we were kids. (Nowadays, the "bounce" is one of the similarities that distinguishes us as siblings.) I was eating chocolates one afternoon when I saw Brian helping our uncle lift a bench, moving it to the far corner of the room. I started to giggle when I noticed his bouncing behind, and choked on chocolates that almost landed me in the emergency room.
Because of his closeness to our grandmother, he seldom stayed home and spent most of his time at our grandparent's house. He was about 9 or 10 when we noticed how spoiled he was, acting like an unico hijo that he's not! To get our father's attention, I told him that I saw Brian "swaying" (true!), and that he might be gay (sorry, bro!). Faster than you can say que barbaridad, our father made sure that Brian stayed with us rather than with our grandmother. His first night at home was hilarious. He couldn't sleep and was crying softly, afraid that our parents would hear him. Around 3 am, mother found him sitting on his bed, hugging his pillow, crying and asking for Lola. He had trouble sleeping night after night, and to soothe him, our grandmother sent him one of her used house-dresses that became his security blanket.
Naturally, we didn't let him forget the crying incident! He had quite a temper and to get his goat, we called him by our Lola's pet name, Baby Bon. And to our delight, it drove him to fits of anger! At the end of the rumble, we all got grounded.
|X'mas morning, 2009|
Brian, our Lola's favorite apo, the most good-looking nephew according to our aunts, a walking encyclopedia according to his first-born, my defender against bullies at the playground, teachers' pet, hot-tempered, opinionated, a great cook, frog-killer, with a nose we can only envy, a closet sentimentalist, history buff, my partner-in-crime, is all these and more. If only he would step out of his comfort zone and start over.
Happy Birthday, Bry!
Posted for Nostalgic Marveling at http://meetourclan.com