Retroladytyping …

Cheers our kid

Nick and Sal.jpg

Aged 6 and 5


My brother and I always refer to each other as Our Kid, joking that it saves remembering each others names.  In truth,  it’s  our way of expressing our love for each other  and appreciation of the fact that we’ve grown up together. 

In a couple of days time, my little brother reaches a significant big zero birthday.  How on earth can that be?  How can he have progressed from the very smart, hand-knitted cardie wearing, hair brushed little boy in that photo, without his big sister noticing?  As the eldest, my job is to keep an eye on such things.  I become distracted for a few decades and he gets all grown-up.  Along the way,  we  acquired a little sister, but we were almost teenagers by that time, so our formative years were spent  together, arguing, making up, fighting – even punching and biting – me, not him.  I wasn’t the most patient and understanding child.    My poor little brother sometimes felt the brunt of that.  Sorry Our Kid.  I hope the scars have healed.

Having survived growing up with two sisters, he has become one of the most reliable, sensible and level-headed people I know.  People who know him describe him as “the salt of the earth” and he is, he really is.  Everyone in his local area knows him.    Walking with him through his village  is never a speedy undertaking.   He’s greeted by all and sundry with a wave and often stopped for a chat, or asked for a favour.  He knows everyone, their families, their history, their jobs and they know, and trust him.  I’m proud of you Our Kid.

We’ve been through some tough times:  the usual stresses and strains of growing up aside,  in the last few years we’ve coped, alongside our  sister, with the illness from dementia  and then the deaths of both our parents.  For a couple of years, our family life was  very unsettled, worrying and even frightening, but through all that Our Kid was the rock in the family.  I know that’s a cliché, and if I can, I shall think of a better metaphor, but he is solid and reliable, so it seems appropriate.  There were quite a few times, when having visited our Mum in hospital,  I phoned him, in tears at what I had seen and heard.  Despite being busy,  (usually under a car – he’s a mechanic)  he took my calls and proceeded to calm me enough so I could drive home safely,  promising that he would phone me at a particular time that evening.  Right on cue, he did.  Thanks Our Kid.

While our parents were ill, he did most of the administrative jobs, methodically, calmly and efficiently, so my sister and I were largely spared the stress of that.  Setting up a Power of Attorney, selling a house, sorting financial matters –  complicated, stressful and not easy, particularly for someone who is known more for his prowess at practical tasks.  Maybe that’s why he could do it so well.  He tackled it  like a project, keeping methodical records,  making lists, ticking tasks off as completed and updating us constantly with progress.  If he wanted help, he asked, but that wasn’t often.   All we had to do was to sign on the dotted line.  That meant we could focus on visiting Mum in hospital, occasionally taking issue with medical professionals and arranging care for her,  knowing that other important tasks were being taken care of. Our roles weren’t always  as arbitrarily divided  as that seems – we shared when necessary, requested or desirable.  We never argued, despite all the emotional and practical strains that having two parents with dementia entails.   He was also the primary visitor for our dad.  I found that difficult for all sorts of reasons, so didn’t go so as often as I should.  He did and took care of their house and garden.  Couldn’t have got through it without you, Our Kid.

I mentioned that he’s a mechanic, and of course he’s the best.  He’s being paid to do something he does so well – mending broken items, as he does people.     He loves his job, loves engines, bikes, his garden, but most of all his family, who are (cliché alert) a credit to him.  It’s a testament to him and my sister-in-law that, despite being grown-up and with busy lives of their own, all his four children visit often, depending on their dad (and mum of course) for advice and a proper Sunday Lunch.  They also rely on him for practical help when setting up their own homes They know, as do I, that he will turn up with his toolbox and fix things, just as he can fix a tearful older sister.  Dependable, that’s Our Kid.   Quite rightly and justifiably,  he is  proud of his family and their achievements.  Well done Our Kid.

Apart from fixing things, his obsession hobby is his bike, cycling and everything which goes with that.  He is definitely A Middle-Aged Man in Lycra and the owner of one of those bikes which weigh next to nothing, has tyres as thin as my little finger and don’t even mention the saddle.  As I write this, I have a vision of him standing at our back door on my birthday, lycra-clad, with his bike leaning up against our fence, holding out a bouquet for me.  He cycles from his home, the long way round of course, to our home with the bouquet in his back-pack most years on or around that day.  I’m not sure what passing motorists make of the sight, but he doesn’t care and neither do I.  I love it.  I’m still worried about that saddle though … and those tyres are never safe, surely?  Ride safely, Our Kid.

Now he’s going to be 60, but he’s still my little brother.  I’m very proud of him, grateful to him for being the reliable, steady, but never boring man he is.  You’re great Our Kid.  Don’t change.  Also don’t stop calling me Our Kid either.  There is little else I’d rather be doing around teatime on a Saturday  than answering the phone and hearing the words “Hello, our kid.  How’s things?”  Half an hour or so later, when we’ve caught up with all our news,  hearing the words “Cheers our kid” and saying them in return,  makes me feel that all is well in our part of the world.   I feel secure knowing that Our Kid is around.  Thanks Our Kid and Happy Birthday.   Love from Our Kid (and Our Kids’ Little Sister and Our Kids and spouses, not forgetting your Great-Nephew) xxx

Tracey, Nick and me.JPG

Big sister, medium brother, little sister








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