Fifty years ago today my Mum and Dad gave me the most longed for gift I had ever had. My Little Brother. I remember the excitement of him coming home from hospital, and the slow realisation that he wouldn't be playing with me for a while, he slept, and cried and slept and cried.
Not the most perfect gift in the world then.
It got better though ... marginally. He loved cars, cars and then there were the cars. On this, one of my favourite pictures of the two of us, taken on holiday he's not hugging my legs in a brotherly show of affection .... nope he's driving little Matchbox cars around me
There were some games we got along fine with, the Lego for example and we would share and play happily for hours designing and re-designing the many structures (yes and roads for cars) and remember this was 'early Lego' no cute little people to inhabit the houses then ... so we snapped every available person out of his cars, I quite liked his cars briefly, when they gave me the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang family and Parker and Lady Penelope from the Thunderbirds pink car, to live in our little housing estates.
We had wildly different likes and dislikes, he was the indoors boy who would play happily for hours with cars and chess and doing things that I as the outdoors all the time tomboy that I was had no idea of. But we touched base at mealtimes as you did in those days, each evening meal sat around the table discussing the day.
We grew up and I guess in some ways further apart, but I remember being totally amazed when he agreed to be best man at my first wedding when he was just fourteen years of age. He even did a small speech, I was totally proud of him, and I think looking back I never even told him that. What a terrible big sister!!
Our paths widened even further once I was married and although we met up once a week at home, he was often in his room doing what teenagers do and we really saw each other best at family gatherings. I can't remember what this event was but Graham is stood on the left behind me and the other three are our cousins, Robert, Colin and Ann.
I was always pleased to see him developing into a confident, and such a very handsome young man. ( But I was totally jealous of his curls). Sisterly love glowing within, from a distance.
The thing that brought us back into each others lives was the birth of Simon my first son.
From the minute he could walk and talk he hero worshipped the tall smiling Uncle that took time to show him things. Who taught him to love animals, how to handle Sooty the big black Labrador, the happy Uncle who taught him how to play snooker left-handedly (Simon is right-handed but to this day plays snooker the way Graham showed him) and who gave him valuable boy time and a few toy cars into the bargain. Giving him the love of cars that has forged his career to this day.
When he was presented with his second nephew he again took time to do all the same things with him, in Jason's case developing in him the love of chess and all things ball related. Jason too was taught to play snooker and was proficient with a cue at just 18 months old, not wanting to be left out of the games played between his brother and his Uncle. As the boys grew and we moved away to Cumbria less time was spent with their beloved Uncle but always at family get togethers the bond is there, forged early and never to be broken.
And as Dad moved on from photography to a love of video filming Graham became the family photographer, practicing his art and moving quickly ahead in the photography world. In my shop I sold limited edition framed copies of his pictures of the Lake District, and they now grace many a wall all over the country. Including one of course on our memory wall.
He now is a judge on the Photography Club circuit that he's involved with, travelling around the country using his expertise to help others improve theirs. When he tells me a particular photo on my Blog is a good, well balanced shot I know that I've got it right with my little point it and shoot digital camera :-)
Family get togethers, something we do so well, lots of laughs and time for a catch up.
And here is Graham, having trusted me with his beloved camera, with Mum, Dad, his nephew Simon and Simon's eldest son Liam, my brother's first Great Nephew.
Since the death of my beloved Dad almost two years ago Graham has been there for Mum, a rock steady shoulder to lean on, an almost daily presence in her life, sorting out for her the things that I struggled with, the paper work, the running around needed sometimes at a moments notice, the logical brain to deal with a problem. If Mum is poorly or needs help he is there for her ... a son to be leant on, a son that will grit his teeth and do what is asked of him, a son to be proud of.
And what is he to me .... he's my brother.
I love this photo of him taken by Jason on a rare day out for the two of them, it shows Graham at his best, relaxed in his walking gear a camera slung round his neck, ready to walk on and find the next possibly perfect shot. I'm not so keen on the 'flowerpot man' style hat but sometimes your brother just has to be an outdoorsy geek!!
He's been in my life since before I was four, the little toddler that I rushed home from school to see. The little brother that joined in the games I orchestrated (sometimes bribed to play and sometimes willing). The brother that was there for me whenever a brother was needed.
He might not have been the most perfect gift in the world but he was the most perfect present my parents ever gave me.
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Happy Birthday Graham
You've teased me for the last time for being in my 50's now .... haven't you!!