Happy Birthday, Bruce!

I won’t say this to you directly, because you don’t want to hear from me.  This makes me sad, but I don’t want to add to your stress with an unwelcome text or email.  But I miss you and I wonder sometimes, no matter how angry you are, whether you miss me.  Or whether you miss at least our shared past. 

Bruce’s 3d birthday in 1965. Seven small white kids at a picnic table; Bruce is at the far end of the table; I’m to my Dad’s left in a blue dress and red shoes. Dad stands at the head of the table in his Summer Nerd outfit: blue button down, sleeves rolled above his elbows; shorts in a different shade of blue; black socks and black business shoes.

One of the coolest things about having a sibling is making fun of your nuclear and extended family; the next coolest thing is the shared memory of stupid shit you did as kids. Remember Dad’s attempts at casual dress?  He was incapable of anything between a three-piece suit and ancient repurposed suit pants, often rolled up to his knees for a stroll on the beach, often (see left) paired with black socks and shoes. Remember making fun of Mom’s boyfriend’s name? (Sorry, Mom – I know you hated it, but we laughed our inconsiderate asses off.) Remember the way Aunt Martha would introduce you to anyone who had anything to do with something vaguely sciencey and assume you’d have a lot to talk about? Or Dad opening your Chemical Engineering PhD thesis to a random page and claiming to have found a typo – man he was proud of someone in our family doing sciencey things!  

Neither of us knew what “calvados” was when offered it at my graduation dinner, and spent the next few hours saying the word and laughing ourselves silly.  (It was my law school graduation, for the record.)  Remember when Dad tried to throw an ice cream cone at you, but hit the inside of the car’s back door. We’re still considering a plaque for that specific Dairy Queen in Brunswick, Maine.  Remember the trip to France in 1986 – three generations of stubborn, crabby Robertsons in a small car without much of a plan, where the conversations ranged from Granddaddy’s adventures in WWII to Granddaddy’s contemporary struggles with constipation. 

We laughed at it all – even the stuff we probably should not have laughed at (I think Granddaddy was actually pretty uncomfortable, though the TMI factor was pretty high). We laughed at some of the painful shit around the divorce, and laughed and cried around the really painful shit when Dad died.  (They buried him in the wrong grave?  One belonging to the cousin who hated him?  We tried to cry, but it was also fucking hilarious.) 

Well, Happy Birthday and thank you – it’s been cathartic to write just this sampling of hilarity and stupid shit.  But it was also a good reminder that I do, indeed, love you and miss you. 

Happy 60th, dear brother.

3 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Bruce!

      1. Unyong

        You know what I noticed after perusing ALL your fabulous photos here? You’re going to love this Amy: they are very Zen, very present, very observant, elevating the ordinary into something sublime, whatever the subject matter from frolicking dogs to birds and flowers, to street signs and more. Wow! You have found a powerful medium of artistic expression. I felt very peaceful after looking at them. Thank you for sharing them! I remember when you first picked up a camera, and now you are so prolific.

        Liked by 1 person

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