Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Wedding in the Family

My brother Alex and his wife, Brandy
[photo by Emily Fuller]

This was read aloud at their wedding reception.  They were married on St Patrick's Day.

Dear Brandy,
I have a few thoughts to share with you that will hopefully help you be the best possible wife to Alex, as well as warn you of any coming pitfalls along the way!
Until Alex was fifteen, I basically ran his life.  I was his PA, his boss, his buddy, his best audience, and his wheels.  I went away overseas for a year, and Grandmother told me later that he was like a lost soul.  It makes me happy to know he's found you. I'm sure life will go well for you both, as long as you know you need to be his PA, boss, buddy, best audience, and... well, I guess not his wheels.  At least not for another forty years or so!
Some of my most memorable moments with Alex include dressing up.  I dressed him like a girl before he could barely speak and made him sing and dance.  Dad soon put a stop to that.  During our childhood, he compliantly dressed up like characters from every book we read, from George Washington to Pa Ingalls.  We played "hospital" a lot, too.  As little Dr Alex, he would take a toy stethoscope and place it on the chest of a doll patient, saying solemnly as he did so, "Doc doc doc doc doc doc doc."
I'm so glad, after all those years of enforced dressing-up, that Alex has finally had a choice in the matter... and happy to see that he's chosen the Revolutionary War period!  One of my favourite eras in the history of clothing styles!  
[Alex and Brandy attend late 18th-century period reenactments]
Growing up with four sisters can't have been easy for Alex.  Now that I have three boys of my own, I am amazed that he survived us girls. He possessed good coping skills.  I quote: "You girls are always taking up the bathrooms!  I'm going outside to mark a tree!"
He was also quite the businessman, creating a little working economy within our own family.  Once, when his clothing -a particular love of his- was stacked nearly three feet high on a chair in his bedroom, he paid Emily $10 to hang it all up in his closet!  I also remember him lying stretched out on the sofa, asking Jessica and Emily to provide him with drinks and snacks.  It was amazing... they ran to do exactly what he asked!  For free.
In return for all this, Alex made us laugh.  I think he realised early on in his life that he was a funny guy.  He could always be counted on to provide the laughs, whenever they were needed.  Once, when Dad was about to discipline him for something or other [maybe locking Jessica in the henhouse?] he inhaled helium from a balloon right before Dad entered his room.  "Please Dad, no!  Don't spank me!" [said in a high-pitched helium-influenced voice]
Wow, more memories keep flooding back.  Alex in tights with a sock at the front as I ran a performance of the Nutcracker Ballet in our living room.  Alex using a hair dryer to dry himself off after a particularly funny moment caused him to lose bladder control.  Alex ripping his tooth out bloodlessly while we were camping, just minutes after discovering it was loose.  Alex and I crawling around on our roof at our house in New York, prompting the neighbours to phone my mother in alarm.  Alex and I screaming in the woods at the top of our lungs, playing Native American Indians on the warpath, causing Grandma Dot to call Mom, concerned that something was wrong.  Alex and I playing George and Martha Washington, milking our "goat" - our poor dog, Brownie.  Oops.
So... happy memories from childhood days.
There are more recent ones, too.  Alex first came to visit us in the UK about seven years ago.  It was a crazy two weeks.  We took him out for a Chinese buffet meal, after which he suffered from food poisoning for several days.  He lay in a stupor on our guest room bed, and when I went to offer help: a cup of tea, a biscuit, a cold washcloth on his forehead, he refused all offers.  "I just want Mom," he groaned.  On this same trip, he walked behind me down one of our busiest streets, pointing at me and whispering loudly to everyone who passed us: "VAMPIRE!  She's a vampire!"  Of course, Grandmother always taught me to "I-G-N-O-R-E" so I did just that.
So there you are.  Take Grandmother's advice, and when you need to: "I-G-N-O-R-E"!!
I cannot think of anything you need to be warned about that you probably don't already know, apart from reminding you that Alex cheats when playing games.  This was the source of many of our arguments growing up, as cards fell out of his sleeves, and he somehow adroitly managed to check inside the "Clue" case-file to find out who did it, with what weapon, and in which room.  There is no ill will in any of this cheating, nor really any competitive desire to win.  I think it's just an extension of Alex's desire to make us laugh.
I'm sure you're already aware of all the nice things about Alex.  He is always there to help, always capable of creatively building something useful, always able to "fix it".  He is compassionate yet tough, protective, and feels life deeply.
If there's anything I could hope for the two of you, it's that you never forget to laugh through the difficult times.  I'm pretty sure Alex will be able to make sure that happens.
Praying you both enjoy your life together!
Much love,

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