I have loved my brother fiercely for forever. It's partly because he's my brother and that's just what you do with family, but it's pretty much because my parents instilled in each of us this undying sense of loyalty from the moment we were young enough to sit and listen to their preaching.
"YOU ARE ALL EACH OTHER HAS." The stern look in their eye and their point of their fingers and the shouty letters of their speech ... and that's all it took for us to believe them.
New schools. Friends that weren't really friends. Me almost killing us on a Dawson highway because he was silly enough to think I'd ever need to learn how to drive a stick. We were all each other had.
And then marriage. And babies. And a country away from each other. And the Air Force. And teaching. And college.
I still feel fiercely (and that's the only word I can think of in this instance) loyal to this boy. We aren't around each other all that often, but when we are, I'm always struck by a number of things. How he leads his home. How his family gathers around their dining room table to pray before they eat. How he loves his wife. It's fierce. There is joyful, fierce love in his home.
But today? Today what I'm struck by is how he guards his daughter's heart. CK is growing like cray cray and she's beautiful and smart and soon her little sister will be right along with her and heaven help them. Two blonde spunky girls and I'm sure - toooons of grey hair on the horizon.
A couple of years ago, I was helping his fam move from San Antonio. Or move to San Antonio. I forget. Not important. Important here is that we were sitting on the couch and our feet were on the coffee table (pretty much dying from exhaustion) and CK came downstairs in a dress. And immediately, The Brother was her hero. "CK, you look so pretty. I love you so much!" It was a litany. "Show Aunt Becky your dress. You look so nice."
I must've said something because then I remember him saying this (and obviously I'm paraphrasing, but this is the gist): "I'm the first male relationship she'll ever have and I'll be the barometer for the rest of her life. I better do a damn good job. That girl is going to have standards."
And alright then. Standards. Big ones. Shoes to fill. Fierce love.
And then I thought about my own dad.
He's so great. Everyone loves my dad. Life of the party. A forever friend. An easy laugh, an open heart, a shoulder-guider.
And I do not say that word lightly - he is devout in his love for me. (And Brett. And Brody.)
There are so many - so, so many - things that he has done for me in my life that have built my own deck of standards (we could talk for days about this man). From the simple scraping of my windows on my car, to the carrying my luggage for me at the airport, to always - without fail, always, and no argument ever taken - picking up the tab, to taking Jenny Gooley and I on spring break and not losing his holy hot shit when he saw me standing on the bar pouring vodka shots into random people's mouths. For taking Dustin Bents home from a date with me, and then making the poor kid forget his birthday under his interrogative gaze. For so many times checking my decisions. Stopping me with a gentle nudge on my shoulder and a whispered, "Make sure this is what you want," or a calm, "Make a better decision." He can be stoic and stubborn and wise and funny all at the same time. And damn that man can tell a story. I cannot tell you how many of my most prized memories come from our farm dining room table and my dad's hands in the air and his voiced raised in a hallelujah punch line.
That man built me up so hard that I had no other option, but to shine. He and my momma made it their mission to make Brett and I the best possible people we could be. Their mission.
But the thing about my dad?
The thing about The Brother and CK and Mad?
Without fail - and this is the really, really big here it is ... Without fail, he chose me every single day.
Even the day that he found out that I was dating Shannon Stapleton. Who worked for him ... and was maybe ten years older than me.
Even the day that he found out that I didn't want to try A&M anymore.
Even the day that he came for my 16th birthday and I chose going out with my friends over dinner with him.
Even the days that I gritted my teeth in teenage irritation, or tried to walk away while he was talking to me.
Even the weeks that I forget to call him.
He chooses me. Every. Single. Day.
When I recently started sorting through my deck of standards and realized I'd somehow lost that one? It was a tough pill to swallow. Somehow? When I was doing this whole relationship thing for the past, oh, I don't know, 18 years? I somehow managed to forget that it's the most important standard that I need to have. It's in the choice. Every single day. Emotionally. Physically. A presence. A shoulder-guider. A calm nudger. A whispered, "Every single day, it's you."
Pretty sure it's in The Choice Box that all of my standards cards now rest. I won't forget again that in the choosing? That's where the devout and the fierce foundations are built.
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences.
He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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