To my baby brother on his birthday

On Friday the 13th, my baby brother turns 33. (That’s a lot of 3s!) We’ve been through thick and thin, been in a lot of mischief side by side and had many adventures together. This column is dedicated to him.

On March 13, 1982, my little brother, Dalton, arrived. I was 6 and went from the only child to a big sister. Little did I know at that time, I’d have a life-long partner in crime, in adventure and a life-long friend. So sit back and enjoy a few of my favorite childhood memories with my brother.
One of my favorite hilarious moments with my brother was when we lived in Wellington. There was a candy store in town that we loved to go into. On one trip we saw the candy cigarettes. Bam. Instant mischief. We purchased said candy and stood on the corner and “smoked” them. Wellington, mind you, is a pretty small place, so mom later reported to us that we were spotted “smoking.” Pretty funny stuff then. Now it makes some funny stories at the family dinner table.
Another fun moment was when we lived in Wichita. We used to save up our money to walk around the corner to Calvin’s Hamburger Haven on South Seneca. We’d go there together and order the big, juicy hamburgers and greasy French fries. The restaurant still exists; I’ve driven by a few times. Dalton, I’m hoping we can go sometime soon!
Of course, there was sibling rivalry and antics. I cannot say I was the perfect big sister. If he was writing this column, he would tell you this story, I’m sure. It all starts with a little orange tape (nope, there were no CDs or iPods back then, we had cassette tapes). This tape played Halloween sounds, which naturally scared my little brother. I would play those and chase him down the hallway in a white sheet. While he didn’t find it funny at the time, every time we talk about it it yields side-splitting laughs.
My brother and I also spent summers in the Ozarks together with family. Our family had an old school bus that was converted into a home with a master bedroom, bunk beds and a kitchen. It was fun to sit in the driver’s seat and pretend to drive the bus. I have fond memories of listening to the Trading Post on the radio every Saturday morning. It was a radio show where people called up to offer things for sale — much like the online buy, sell, trade groups today. (There wasn’t Internet back then, my brother and I are ancient in today’s kids’ eyes).
The campground we stayed at in the Ozarks didn’t have modern creature-comforts. If you had to go to the bathroom, you went to an outhouse. A real, wooden, hand-dug two-hole outhouse, with some questionable magazines to boot. What it did have was a river, a nightly campfire where we all cooked and plenty of things for kids to do. Every kid should grow up in nature, wandering up and down the shores of a river or beach, finding fossils, cooking your own food over a real campfire and just talking to one another. This was before cell phones and texting too so you actually had to talk to one another.
My brother and I have also shared sad times such as when my stepfather, who in all respects was our father, died in a house fire a while back. My brother and I both gave the eulogy at the funeral. The words that flowed out of my brother’s mouth regarding our father were beautiful and very honoring of our father. We stood by each other and our mother during a very tragic time in our lives.
My brother and I have been through thick and thin together — through wonderful times and through challenging times. I’m grateful he came into our lives nearly 33 years ago. I can’t imagine life without him.
Today, my little brother has a wonderful wife and kids of his own — two beautiful teenagers — a girl and a boy. And they have one on the way. I can’t wait to meet my new niece or nephew this fall. I’m proud of all my brother has accomplished and proud to call myself his sister.
Happy birthday, Dalton. I love you.

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