Growing up I was the only girl and middle child in our family. I had an older brother and a younger one. The younger one is Robert.
Robert as a kid was a self-centered little pest. He seemed only to care about himself. He also liked to find ways to annoy me. I wanted to get back at him good, and I had developed a few revenge plots. But somehow my older brother always got wind of them. He told me I had no right to touch Robert because when I was his age I was just as bad. I knew that was a lie. But when I asked my parents, they said I was actually worse. Well, all that was beside the point.
Finally big brother went away to college, and Robert had no protection. But then something else happened. Robert began to change. He suddenly stopped being so selfish. He showed concern for others, including me. For example, when I was doing my homework, he used to turn his music on. If I told him to turn it down, he turned it up louder. Now if I was studying, he would tell me he was going to keep the music tuned low, but if it was still too loud to tell him and he would turn it lower. (He hates earphones.)
It used to be when we did our household chores, he tried to get out of doing his. Now if he finished his first, he would help me without even being asked. His school work improved as well. He was barely getting by with a D average. Now he was making almost all A’s with a rare B. He would even bring classmates home and tutor them on his own.
Getting even with him now made no sense. It’s sort of like punishing a dog. You need to do it right when the dog does something wrong. Do it a half hour later, and he won’t understand what’s going on. Besides, I now sort of like Robert. He was the brother I always wanted. So revenge plans got trashed. I figured him maturing had something to do with his hitting puberty. But I would not find out the full truth until years later.
Robert was now 18. He graduated high school and won a scholarship to study in Europe for a year. We were all proud of him. I was proud of him. The week before he left, we had a farewell dinner with family and his closest friends. We did it sort of like a roast. Everyone would make good natured jokes about Robert, and tell what a great guy he is. Then Robert got his rebuttal and made jokes about the rest of us. He started with our parents and then went on to our brother, cousins, and then his friends. I was wondering why he skipped me, but he was saving me for last. We have the whole thing on DVD, so I can give you exactly what he said.
And finally, I come to my sister Evelyn. I saved you for last because I want to get serious for a moment. Growing up, you know I tried my best to irritate and annoy you. My goal was to push you as far as I could. At times you would lose your temper and yell at me, but that passed quickly. Mostly you just showed patience and tolerance. You did not know this then, and I am telling you now for the first time, but your patience with me impressed me. Your discipline is what I admired about you. You became my hero, and when I reached junior high, I decided I wanted to be just like you. That’s when I changed my ways. I would never have had the discipline and wherewithal to win this scholarship if it wasn’t for the example you set for me. Thanks, sis. I love you.
WOW! I had no idea! I was totally stunned, but still the emotion got to me. The dam broke loose and the tears began to flow from my eyes. Everyone stood and applauded. I cried even harder. Robert came up to me and gave me a hug. I hugged him back and cried even more. It was embarrassing doing all that crying, and even more so since everything was being videoed.
Everyone still remembers that tearjerking moment, and if they forget they all have copies of the DVD. But as embarrassing as it was to be singled out by my brother for special praise and for my reaction, it still felt pretty good then and it does now. I just never told Robert the full truth myself. Maybe someday I will.