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  • Writer's pictureDana Vanhoy

Oh Brother!

My brother and my son

True story: My brother ran away from home when I was born.

The legend goes likes this (and yes, the story has been told and re-told so many times in my family, it has become legendary): my mom had given birth to me in the hospital and called home to check on her 3 older children: Laurie, age 11, Brenda, 10 and Scott, 9.

Laurie, being the eldest, talked to our mom and explained that Scott couldn’t be located at that moment.

I’m not sure how the conversation went exactly, seeing as how I was not even a day old, but knowing my oldest sister and her take-charge personality, she probably assured mom that everything was ok, and Scott would be found.

He was found, eventually, at his fort in the swamp.

The reason he ran away? Little Scotty already had 2 older, smelly sisters. He was ticked-off that a 3rd female had been born unto the family. He wanted a brother, dang it, and because that didn’t happen, he decided to boycott the family, pack his bags, and leave.

Forty-four years later, rumor has it he now likes (dare I say loves?) his baby sister.


My relationship with my brother didn’t begin as a tight-knit one. It’s difficult to be close with not only a sibling that is of the opposite sex but also with a 9-year age difference. Legendary story aside, when I was growing up under the same roof as he, my brother was a mystery, someone to be admired from afar.

That’s not to say we weren’t without our typical brother-sister spats.

I thought he was trying to kill me one evening at the dinner table when he ran the dull side of a knife over the back of my hand. I screamed out, “MOM! SCOTT’S TRYING TO KILL ME!” I was maybe 7 years old and already showing signs of a potential career in theater.

There were plenty of times he’d pin me down and tickle me until I was blue in the face. I can’t confirm that some of these wrestling matches were not without warrant. Being the youngest, I *might* have been spoiled. Again, I can not confirm this.


Looking back, it seems I was trying to get my brother’s attention in the most unconventional ways.

There was the time when my cousin and I thought it’d be funny to sneak into my brother’s bedroom and hide in his closet. Tucked away in the back corner of the tiny space with his hanging clothes blocking his view of us, my cousin let out a scream when my brother was trying to find something to wear. This in turn made him scream in fright and then yell at us when he realized it was only his bratty little sister and her female cousin sidekick. We scurried out of there in a hurry, fearful of what might happen if we stuck around.

There was the time my brother’s high school sweetheart was at our house assisting my brother in babysitting me, the aforementioned cousin, and my other female cousin. His girlfriend was paying us all the attention while my brother seethed in the basement family room. From down there he could hear us jumping around, laughing loudly and having a good time. He came stomping up the stairs, yelled at us to keep it down, then proceeded to leave the imprint of his fist in the pantry door on the way back to his cave.

This made us all cry. And I can’t imagine my parents were happy when they got home and saw the dent in the pantry door that suspiciously resembled my brother’s fist. I do remember my mother hung a calendar over the fist-print for the longest time, in lieu of actually replacing the door.


I wanted my brother’s attention because I thought he was cool and I wanted him to like me even though I was the annoying little sister. He was funny. He was athletic. He had a beautiful girl friend. I had crushes on his cute friends. I secretly wanted to be like him: I’d sneak into his bedroom and dig through his albums which included Billy Joel, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, and Billy Squier. I played with his old Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars. I wore his hand-me-down football jersey after he graduated high school. To this day whenever I hear the Billy Joel song “Still Rock & Roll” it reminds me of him.

He did occasionally do nice things for his little sister. When the movie Hard to Hold came out, which starred my celebrity crush, Rick Springfield, he and his friend took me to the drive-in theater to see it. Hard to Hold was the second movie in a double feature. When one of the first few scenes of Hard to Hold included Rick Springfield’s bare a$$, my brother started up his vehicle and took me home. I was only 10 years old at the time and my brother felt that was too young of an age to view a man’s butt.


Not long after that, my brother went away to school in Texas.

And not long after that, he came back to his hometown and married his high school sweetheart.

They’ve been married now for almost 33 years. They have two children, a daughter and son, who are now up and grown. I may be biased but they did a fantastic job parenting my niece and nephew. I try to emulate their parenting skills with my own son.

My brother and sister-in-law live in Mississippi where he’s an elementary school teacher and she’s a kindergarten teacher’s assistant. They are all-around good people and followers of Christ.

My brother and I see each other about twice a year, once during the summer when we’re all in our hometown in Northern Michigan and once when my family visits Mississippi for Thanksgiving. We are as close now as we’ve ever been or as any siblings can be who live hundreds of miles apart and see each other twice a year.

I admire my brother even more now than I did when I was his bratty little sister. I still think he’s funny and cool and bullet-proof. Imagine if your favorite childhood superhero came to life and was a living, breathing human and you’re now friends with him as an adult.

That’s how I feel about my brother. He's Superman and I'm a fan-girl.

But I’m still upset that we had to leave the Rick Springfield movie before it was over.

Even so, I love you brother.

1 John 4:21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

#family #love #children #siblings

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