Published in the October 3 – 16, 2018 issue of Gilroy Life
Siblings can be tough to deal with. Am I right? I always wished I had lots of sisters and brothers, but ended up with just one — an older brother.
Just like any older sibling, he picked on me relentlessly when we were kids — and still does on occasion. He lives in Lake County, so we don’t see each other often. We keep in touch via text messaging
When my 47-year-old brother is on duty as a police sergeant, he’s serious and professional. Off-duty, he’s the same goofy guy I grew up with — he’s been known to text me voice clips using an animated “poop” emoji.
We’ve never been best friends and to be frank, we’re two very different people who can’t spend a whole lot of time together without getting on each other’s nerves. But we’re still siblings and we love each other.
When his son died in 2013, I wrote and spoke the eulogy at my nephew’s funeral. When I’ve had car trouble in the past, he’s saved me money with repairs since he’s mechanically-inclined.
Several months ago he began having some health issues. He initially chalked them up to his high-stress job, but was concerned enough to have some tests done. Thankfully he did, because following a few weeks of testing, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer.
So naturally, the first thing that came to my mind was, “What can I do to help?”
The last month and a half or so, as he recovered from surgery and continues weekly treatments, I’m realizing there’s nothing I can do except try to keep his spirits up. We’ve spoken a couple of times, and he’s had some rough days, so I simply listen and joke and laugh.
And I text him pretty regularly — checking in, sending funny memes — just to keep things light.
Fortunately, doctors say they caught the cancer fairly early and they’re feeling confident. It’s a very different story from when our dad was diagnosed with cancer 20 years ago and was given a slim chance of survival.
But Dad didn’t take that diagnosis sitting down, and when he beat it, his oncologists began to refer to him as “our miracle.” He still gets annual cancer checks, but Dad’s cancer has never returned, and at 72, he’s still going strong.
Obviously, my hope is that my brother has the same outcome. But until the coast is clear, I’ll continue to crack jokes and do my best to make him smile when things get tough. I’ll listen as needed and offer sisterly support when jokes don’t do the trick.
I always wanted lots of siblings, but it just wasn’t in the cards. I only got one, and I’d kinda like to keep him around.
Andrea “Andi” Joseph worked in newspapers for 18 years before transitioning to her current career as a website content writer and marketer. She lives south of Gilroy with her two dogs, Bailey and Cricket. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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