Today, our youngest sibling, Rupert, turns the ripe age of 37. I can’t blame Rupert for changing my life for the worse, that happened 6 February 1976, when the twins were born and I went from the paradise of being an only child to being the oldest of three. I think it is fair to say that our brother Rupert was born impacting people’s lives.
From my earliest memories, I can remember my mom telling us “Don’t give him an audience, he will only get worse”. It seems that Rupert was born with the belief that because he was last in the birth order he had to move super fast to do everything we were doing only louder, better and faster. Even worse, we were all responsible for Rupert. In many of the family photos from our youth, one of the three of us is holding onto Rupert for dear life. He developed his talent for running away early. And he would do it with this devil’s smirk on his face. His getting into trouble face, if you will.
Rupert is also the only one of us who had to wear a kinder harness. The sort of chest harness that you put on your child and it remains attached to the parent or responsible sibling. Growing up, we didn’t know what to make of Rupert, only that he was more than the three of us combined. More trouble, more outgoing, just more.
The battles were epic. In part because he was determined to surpass us all, having no respect for his place in the birth order. And also because of us all, he is the best parts of my mom when it comes to connecting with complete and total strangers. There is hardly anyone who fails to respond to his curiousity and doesn’t share their life story with him. He gets this from my mom. Meredith, his wife, said at my mom’s memorial service, that in Rupert she sees my mom’s clown tendencies. The rest of us don’t have that to the same degree.
Fast forward through lots of rocky years and bumpy times and our littlest brother has grown up. He still really wants to have a bite of whatever you are eating. He still wears his favorite tie dye and flip flops. And he believes there is no problem that cannot be solved without an application of pizza. And he is someone that you can nerd out with and do deep analytical thinking and then in the next breath talk about how that makes you feel. I cherish this about him, that the hyperactive boy has grown into a thoughtful, compassionate, funny man with a deep concern for the people around him.
I can walk with my brother and have farting contests. I can talk with him in my deepest bouts of grief and shame. I can listen to him share his stories with others. I can admire his faith, seeing it’s evolution from sheep think to deeply grounded and practiced. I am grateful that he had the good sense to find Meredith and bring her into our family. I know that in the midst of sibling drama he can be counted on to ask the difficult questions to all of us. I trust and respect the man he has become.
So, as you turn 37, Rupinder, know that even though you told me you don’t need me to be your big sister anymore, I always will be. More importantly, I will always been willing to kick ass on your behalf (just like in the Marcello years). No one messes with my little brothers! I wish you a year full of happiness, that you receive even half as much joy as you bring to those around you. I am so grateful for the times you have listened to me cry and even in our fights, because I have learned a lot about what it means to be adult siblings instead of only childhood ones. I can’t wait to hang out with you again and compare foot odors and have long discussions about the state of the world and our roles and responsibilities in it. Most of all, I can’t wait to give you a big hug and feel at home again. With lots of love, from your Big Sister.