Posts Tagged ‘brother’

“Unky”

February 7, 2010

My older brother Corey, and his lovely fiancé, Jessica, visited us last weekend.

I’m not exactly sure where the name came from, but my boys have started calling him “Unky.”

Short for “Uncle” no doubt.

Unky.

It’s the kind of word that sounds cute when the kids say it, but looks weird when you write it. And if you know my brother, you’d know it can’t be spelled with an “ie.”

“Unkie,” just wouldn’t match Corey’s intensity.

Corey, my only brother, was born with 93 octane coursing through his veins.

My earliest memories are of him somehow always involved watching him build what seemed like mile-high, 45 degree plywood ramps from which to launch himself into the great beyond on anything fast enough to take him there.

More recent memories are of seeing him plummet to earth from such attempts, followed by the sound of him gasping for air after having the wind knocked out of him once again.

He still has scars on his shins from the snowboarding accident, shoulder pain from the dirt bike surgery, and a crooked finger from the other injury; another story for another time.

There’s the old cliché about pesky younger brothers always wanting to follow the older one around. But with Corey, I could never keep up. He’d be up early, rain or shine, snow or sleet, and out the door and long gone before my milk even hit the cereal. And when I did have the chance to tag along, it was just too intense. The bikes were too fast, the jumps were too high, the weather was to extreme or the days were too long.

I was the turtle and he was the jackrabbit.

Never have I know anyone with such intensity, energy and stamina.

Never, that is, until my oldest son Philo was born.

He and Corey undoubtedly share the same blood type. And I think it’s O, for “octane.”

They both have one gear. Full speed ahead with no signs of stopping.

There are some people in the world, among them Corey and Philo, who have an inexhaustible surplus of energy. God love ‘em. I don’t know where they get it. I wish I did.

My mother has a theory about this, and she traces it back to birth.

Corey was born breeched and blue. When he emerged from the womb, backwards, the umbilical cord was wrapped several times around his neck, cutting off his air. It was forever described in our family as a near miss.

Given his dare devil life that followed, you might say birth was his first flirt with death.

Similarly, Philo had close call at delivery. Up until then, the doctors told us it was a textbook pregnancy.

That was until game time, when contractions became so intense they put immense pressure on Philo’s cord, and cut off the flow of blood and oxygen.

I remember early on in the delivery room, they had a heart monitor, as standard procedure, hooked up to my wife to track the baby’s rhythm.

During a cycle of contractions, they intensified.

As they grew stronger and stronger, I heard the baby’s heart beat slow down more and more – and eventually stop altogether.

We’re talking flat line.

It was terrifying.

As the nurses all scrambled, one pounded the big red, bedside button labeled “code,” while another began chest compressions on our unborn son.

It was awful.

Life has a way of persisting, however.

And soon, we were back to textbook pregnancy. After only about two hours of active labor, our son was born.

And ever since, he has been a force of nature – just like his Unky.

My mother thinks these episodes at birth somehow sparked a lifelong capacity for vigor and power within both of them.

I don’t know. Could be.

But what I do know is that while Philo is intensifying, Unky is slowing down.

And that’s a good thing.

He still has his bikes and his dirt tracks and his machines. But he also has a fantastic woman in his life. In the fall, they’re getting married. That usually helps to quiet a man’s inner turbulence. If babies should come later, all the more reason to slow one’s roll.

And now, after all these years, I finally feel like I can hang with my big brother.

After only half a day with the boys, he said to me straight faced, “Man, I’m whooped … the boys really wore me out … I don’t know how you do it everyday.”

I thought about it.

“You just gotta pace yourself,” I told him. “It’s a marathon – not a sprint.”

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