Growing up, my brother Scott and I were never close. Our five years and gender difference made our connection as wide as the Grand Canyon.
One thing I admired about him was his ability to make our mother laugh. I’m not talking about the traditional kind of laughter, a giggle or chuckle. I’m talking about, the can’t get her breath, tears streaming and mascara running down her face, kind.
Scott could recount moments of family history and present them with a slant that can undo any edge to them. Each tale ended with our mother sighing, dabbing her face with a tissue, and saying, “Ohhh. Scotty is so funny!”
Scott was always the Class Clown in school, to either his teacher’s chagrin or delight.
It wasn’t until each of us married that Scott and I grew closer. Scott and Amy, and Bry and I, close to the same ages, and newlyweds at the same time, use to go Christmas shopping together.
As poor as church mice, we decided to do all our gift-getting from The Dollar Tree store. Everything at The Dollar Tree was about four quarters or less. We decided to make a game out of it, to find the best or most sentimental present (for a specific person) we could find for only a dollar. We did this for years.
One year, my husband followed Amy around the store, showing her items and asking her how much she thought they cost.
“How much do you think this pasta strainer is?” he asked.
“About a dollar,” Amy said.
“What about these pair of socks?”
“Oh, a dollar!”
“Hey, Amy, how much do you think these Bamboo stirring spoons cost?”
“Wow! Only a dollar!” Amy said, “Can you believe it?” It took her a while before she realized Brian was teasing her.
On December 30 1997, I gave birth to my daughter. Because the room could not accommodate anything more than a bed, a rolling table, and maybe one nurse, and because Bry and I lived less than two blocks away from the hospital, my husband decided to go home and get a couple of hours of sleep.
I supported Brian going home. However, after he left and the nurse took Lorrin to the baby nursery, I started feeling the weight of what it meant now she was born.
Suddenly, I was a mom—a mother—with a capital M! I would have to know everything! I would be responsible for a little person. She would be one-hundred-percent dependent on me! What was I doing? Who did I think I was? I couldn’t be a mother!
At three o’clock in the morning, in the middle of my meltdown, the telephone on my rolling table rang.
“How’s it going?” Scott asked. “Just checking up on you.”
“Good,” I lied.
I began to sob. I told Scott about Brian’s abandonment. I told him about my fears over becoming someone’s mother. “And Lorrin’s birthday is going to suck for the rest of her life because she was born too close to Christmas! Who is going to remember her on her birthday?”
“Want me to come?” he asked. “If I leave right now, I’ll be there in an hour.”
Scott didn’t come to the hospital. Instead, he stayed on the phone with me, making me laugh.
A few years later, Scott and his family moved across the country, and I haven’t seen him in a while. Still, every year on my birthday, he calls, and we talk for an hour, catching up. He also calls or texts my daughter on her birthday. Scott claims that because their birthday’s are only a day apart, they share a special bond, but I wonder if he does it for me.
I suspect Scott calls because, almost twenty-three-years-ago, I confessed my fear that everyone would forget my daughter’s birthday. I think this because Scott’s like that, and it feels like something he would do!