I have been thinking a lot about Brothers these past few weeks. When I was growing up, I always yearned for a full-time Brother. I had a half-brother, Ralph, from my Dad’s first marriage, who lived with his own Mother and visited when schedules allowed. The childhood photo above shows us in 1959 when I am 8 and he is 11.He turned out to be very bright, funny, and a solid citizen-much like our shared Father. We have stayed connected throughout our lives, despite being raised in separate homes; since neither of us ever had other siblings, I think we bonded early and fostered that relationship despite our distance and very different interests. He is special to me for many reasons.

I have also had the good fortune to be given many other Brothers; these are the chosen kind, not the blood-related kind. Over the years I have forged some very tight friendships with some amazing men who have become what I think of as my “Band of Brothers”. These guys are smart, talented, and compassionate people who have, for one reason or another, taken me under their strong wings and supported me. Sometimes they are people I can call to just talk through difficult times, or people I have to call when something hilarious, outrageous, or heartbreaking happens. They are always in my corner, which is such a comfort.

First there is Thom. We met when I was dating my then boyfriend (later husband), David. He was one of David’s best friends, and I could easily see why almost immediately. Thom is amazingly talented, very sensitive, and full of that special combination of compassion and integrity. I know I can call him anytime and he will listen, comment, and cheer me up just by being himself. We have shared heartache stories, single parenting stories, and so much more,that I almost cannot remember a time when I didn’t know him. Angels guided Thom my way early on, and I am so grateful.

Then there is Lenny. This Brother came into my life when I was twelve and working during school vacations for a florist where my Mom worked. Lenny worked there delivering flowers for a while during his college years at Portland School of Art. He was 11 years older than I was, so our friendship didn’t really start until I was in my twenties. At that time, he was a well-known local artist and musician. I enlisted him to play in a band that I put together, and our strong friendship was cemented. Over the years we have discussed every subject imaginable. He has come through for me in so many ways, from musical situations, to support for my many and various creative projects. I also became close to his Family, particularly his Mother, over the years. We are truly Scorpio Sister and Brother.

Craig came into my life through David, as well. He was part of the original Los Angeles gang of musicians and buddies that I met in 1971. But Craig and I developed a separate friendship based on common values and hard-won fights. Our struggles were sometime similar, sometimes not; but we have always had an innate understanding of each other that has proven to be a real blessing in my life. When I hear his voice on the phone, I know I will learn something from him, and I know he will really listen to me. This talented and special man is another Brother I love dearly.

There are other Brothers in my life for various reasons. Neil will always be a Brother who listens, analyzes, sympathizes, and sends love my way. He is bright, complex, and empathetic in so many ways. Mike is my dear pal who is like family to me: we learned to write together in High School and have kept up our strong connection for over fifty years. He is very smart, kind, uproariously funny, and a true Brother.

As usual, when I reflect on my past friendships, I realize how lucky I am to have the people I treasure in my life. My Brothers support me, challenge me, protect me, and cheer me on. I love all of them. Thanks, Bro.

Author: barbarabeardsley

Writing is essential for me. My work helps me through so much of Life, and brings me joy and creative fulfillment. I hope you will enjoy reading my stories, essays, and poems.

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