I have one more big brother to tell you about. Joe was the middle brother of the three. And I think he watched one too many episodes of the Brady Bunch and took that whole middle child thing to heart. He always thought he got the short end of the stick. But he was also the trouble maker.
"Santa" had to start wrapping the presents he left under the tree or Joe would wake up early and announce to everyone what they got. Joe would find everyone's Easter basket and tell us where they were hidden. Joe would pick fights with Jim who was bigger and wasn't allowed to fight back -- until Mom finally had enough and said go for it. Then Joe moved on to Mike, who fought like the Tasmanian Devil and could inflict damage. So it was on to me who was too small to fight back and just cried to Mom or yelled, "Quit it!" a million times.
But Joe was also the star, earning Athlete-of-the-Week honors from our local paper for his pitching skills. I remember hearing how his fast ball was on par with professionals. And he and his beautiful wife produced the first grandchild of the family. (And yes, I do love his wife. She's been in the family longer than not and probably deserves her own blog post. And I'm not just saying that to suck up in case she reads this. I mean it!)
This photo (taken many, many years ago) shows four generations of our family: My maternal grandmother, Mom, Joe and his daughter, Heather.
It's true we fought a lot. A lot. But I think I'm tough because of it. With three older brothers I learned not to take crap from anyone.