Today, my baby brother turns 21 years old. It does not feel real.
In my mind, Paul should still be in elementary school, rockin his 49's sweatshirt and jamming to dcTalk. He should not be in college, living on his own, having just ridden his bicycle from South Carolina to California. It does not seem possible.
In our family, it's a bit of a tradition to tell stories about the Birthday Boy (or girl, of course). In honor of that tradition, here are a couple of my favorites.
When we were kids, our family went to Florida at least once a year. It was a hard life, I know.
I recently read that for each beach vacation you take as a child, you have 20 more moles than the average person. This explains so much for Paul & me. There are hundreds of moles between us (and...I just ruined your breakfast. You're welcome.).
We went to the same resort every year, so Paul & I had some freedom to roam since we knew the joint. We were even allowed to take the elevators by ourselves (if you can imagine such freedom). When we found ourselves in the elevator with strangers, Paul & I would start talking in foreign accents. We thought we did a pretty convincing job, but in retrospect we definitely mixed about 8 different accents.
"Blimey, it's hot outside."
"Spot on, chap."
"We ought to throw a shrimp on the ba-bie."
"Ya man. Slammin."
When the doors opened and our victims stepped off, we would absolutely roar. Ha! Fooled them. Suckers.
They probably walked down the hall, rolled their eyes at each other and said, "Dumb kids."
Paul was a snuggly little kid. A real mama's boy. My mom could not walk past his room during the day without Paul throwing his arms up and calling to her, "I wanna hold you."
He also really liked to help. One year, when he was pretty little, he assisted my mom in the assembling of the Christmas tree. We had one of those fake trees with the branches that snap in to the trunk, and Paul was having a hard time getting them in place. As my mom worked on the top of the tree, she heard a little voice:
"Get in there, you little bastard."
"WHAT did you just say?"
"Paul Avram, where did you hear that word?"
Let's just say my dad's judgement in appropriate movies for children was no longer trusted.
Contrary to what some may believe, Paul is not always sweet.
He once, as a four or five year old little boy, chased my poor, screaming Yoo-Hoo through the entire Orlando airport. Why was she screaming, you ask?
Two words: Rubber. Snake.
A couple of years ago, I got a package in the mail. I don't remember what it was now. Paul was home when I opened it, and we were delighted to read that the hundreds of foam packing peanuts inside would dissolve in water. The directions even encourage simply flushing them down the toilet. How environmentally friendly, we thought. Absolutely wonderful.
Later that afternoon, Dad was playing golf across the street. As was and still is his routine, he makes a very necessary trip back over to the house when the course meets up with our driveway. He hustled inside, ran into the kitchen bathroom, and opened the lid, only to find the toilet packed to the rim with packing peanuts.
Let's just say he was not as impressed with their environmental awareness as we were.
Apparently, you are supposed to soak the packing peanuts in a bucket of water before flushing them down the toilet. Our bad, Dad.
I like to think that I am a good sister. Growing up, Paul & I went through some tough crap together. There were a couple years when we didn't trust anyone but each other, when we had to look out for each other. Even though he's the baby, there have been many times he has taken care of me.
It was New Year's Eve, 5 or 6 six years ago. Paul & I were at the New Year's Eve service, and I was sitting next to my Yoo-Hoo (my dad's mom). Worship had just ended; everyone had greeted each other, found their seats, and settled in as Pau-Pau began to teach.
Suddenly, I heard a noise from Yoo-Hoo. I glanced at her out of the corner of my eye, and her eyes were closed. I thought she was snoring, so I gave her a little nudge. Her eyes stayed close, and she kept making the snoring noise. Suddenly, she collapsed in my lap, and I froze. My grandmother was passed out in my lap.
My uncle was sitting across the aisle from me, and he yelled to Pau-Pau. My dad ran back to us from the stage, and took Yoo-Hoo into his arms. Pau-Pau led a prayer from the pulpit, and an elder called the ambulance.
Later that night we learned it was nothing serious, but in the moment I was so scared I couldn't look away, or stop shaking. I felt my legs give out, and I closed my eyes, but I didn't fall. I realized Paul had wrapped both his arms around me, like a cacoon, holding my head against his chest.
Here's a little birthday video the babe & I made for his uncle.
Happy Birthday, Uncle Paul!
Happy Birthday to Uncle Paul from Cassie Beer on Vimeo.