Sometimes a plan works to perfection. Being without siblings, I hoped to have more than one child after starting a family in 1998. I wished for a pair of brothers or sisters and was blessed with both sets.
A special bond developed between my sons Eddie and Milo, who are 38 months apart. I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of that connection since I was the primary parent when it came to escorting them to baseball and ice hockey games and practices. I was more than happy to witness the ups and downs of tournaments.
Some brothers are like oil and water, but Eddie, 19, and Milo, 16, excel in the same sports, enjoy similar music and typically get along like best friends. Yes, we’ve had some tension and fights, but the few issues they’ve experienced have been innocuous.
When I examine their lives, I’m taken aback by their palpable brotherly love. This was the first summer when they went their separate ways. Eddie was busy working for a moving company and is making the transition in life as a college student while Milo is still in high school.
The highlight of the summer is when Eddie traveled across the country to reconnect with Milo. A few months ago, I reunited with college friends after a pal’s wife passed away. I hadn’t seen him and two of his brothers in a quarter century. “We live in three different states, and we’re rarely ever in the same room,” my friend Bill said.
Now that my daughter Jillian, 22, lives in New York, I can see what can happen in the not-too-distant future. I raised my children to see as much of the country and world as possible so they discover that their options are unlimited. Milo has visited 49 states and Eddie is just five behind his little brother.
Conversations are often about where they would like to live. “I love Austin,” Eddie said. “That’s such a cool city.” “I would love to go to school in California,” Milo said. During our recent run together, it was like old times. Milo, Eddie and I laughed, reminisced and added to our collective experience biking, kayaking and surfing.
We cracked up when waxing about Milo’s shenanigans as a child, Eddie’s propensity for losing his lunch during his elementary school years and how their palettes have morphed. Eddie and Milo have talked a ton about baseball. The former has given the latter plenty of pitching tips since that’s Milo’s latest passion.
We looked back at our wild experiences in Florida, Louisiana and California. The three of us talked about how remarkable it’s been to spend so much time together with so little strife.
I let them know that friends over the years have remarked that I spend so much more time with my children than the average parent. I explain that it’s easy to do when you enjoy your children’s company. My kids fascinate me.
On the road, Milo has often reminded Eddie and me of the loopy character Zach Galifianakis played in “The Hangover.” “Remember the time we were leaving a hotel in Milwaukee two years ago and you and I grabbed breakfast sandwiches but Milo carried a bowl of cereal filled with milk to the car?” Eddie said while chuckling.
And then there was Milo “helping” load the car in Cody, Wyoming. “Milo, will you take my luggage to the rental,” Jillian asked. “Yes, sir,” Milo, then 14, said. Milo did exactly what he was told after saluting.
While driving out of the parking lot, I had a strange feeling something was awry. I glanced back, and the suitcase was in the middle of the lot. “Milo, why didn’t you put my luggage in the trunk,” Jillian asked. “You asked me to take your luggage to the car, and that’s what I did,” Milo declared.
Just before my mother passed away, she placed one of her large hands on Milo’s right shoulder. “You are the clown prince, my dear,” she said to my then 3-year old. Milo provides the welcome comic relief. When Eddie and I travel together, everything is cleaner, and we’re more efficient. But something is missing.
It’s like being part of a band. Last summer the three of us drove across the country; it was akin to being on tour. Milo adds a dimension that often makes us incredulous. Eddie is as pragmatic and dependable as his brother is unpredictable and often hilarious.
Since he’s the younger son, Milo has often been punked. During a stay in Pittsburgh a half-decade ago, we were placed in a bland courtyard room. I decided to ask for an upgrade with a city view. After I moved all the luggage single-handedly, my daughter asked Milo to lead her to the room. He led her to the courtyard suite.
When the key didn’t work. Eddie told Milo that he was wrong and led him to our new room. Milo, then 11, insisted that he was right. “We are right by the soda machine,” Milo said. “I know it!” “Oh my God, something is wrong with Milo,” Jillian said. “This is like ‘The Twilight Zone.’ How could he be that wrong and that upset about it?” We all had a huge laugh when Eddie revealed that we swapped out rooms.
Eddie is embarking on a new life with new classes, new friends and yet another new girlfriend. Perhaps this isn’t the end of a chapter, and there will be more summer fun. Maybe my melancholy is connected to my daughter’s recent graduation to adulthood.
If my boys aren’t going to see each other as much, it’s been a great run. It’s been much greater than I imagined when I remember dreaming about the future while honeymooning in Greece in 1998: “Wow, how great would it be if I had sons close in age who get along and enjoy much of the same?”
What I’ve experienced is an extraordinary gift, and I realize whatever happens in the future is a bonus.
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