Tomorrow is March 17, a date that looms large for my family.
No, we’re not Irish. Well, we’re a little Irish, but not THAT Irish. You see, 39 years ago on St. Patrick’s Day, my little red-headed brother was born. He would end up being my first little brother, but none of us knew that at the time.
Arthur Lee Wallace, named for my mom’s father, proved to be a handful then and continues to enlighten and entertain us with his witticisms and misadventures. I was a mere 3 years and eight months old when Lee was born. When he came home from the hospital, I tried to hold him in my lap but failed to properly support his neck and head.
“His head is falling off!” I yelled as his fuzzy noggin lolled across my knees.
He survived my fledgling attempts to hold him – though any damage he sustained may explain some behavioral eccentricities – and much worse at my hands as the years went on.
I will never forget the sick feeling in my stomach when I looked into the rear view mirror on my parents’ van and saw him rolling across the pavement of our driveway after I gunned it up the hill with him clinging white-knuckled to the spare tire on the back.
And then there was the time we fought. OK, well, we fought a bunch. In fact, the last whuppin’ I got from my dad occurred when I was 13. Lee and I we were hitting below the belt in a knock-down, drag-out tilt. I’m still not sure if we were punished for fighting or for fighting dirty.
Lee has also survived many a tongue lashing from my parents for following through on ideas I may or may not have planted in his mind.
“Lee, ask Dad if we can stay up and watch TV.”
“OK!” he eagerly responded.
Minutes later, after my father erupted at his post-bedtime appearance in the den, Lee returned, crying.
“Oh well. Guess that was a ‘No.’ Thanks, Lee. Good night!”
We shared a bedroom from as far back as I can remember until I left for college. We had long late-night chats about important topics like the Dallas Cowboys’ chances of winning a Super Bowl with Gary Hogeboom as the quarterback and how Darth Vader could possibly be Luke Skywalker’s father.
The conversation Lee likes to remind me of happened one night when I was 16. I professed to have found the woman of my dreams. Really, really, really wish I never shared that. Now Lee uses it to great comedic effect at family gatherings. He has a way of keeping me grounded if I ever get too full of myself.
Many years later I eventually found the woman of my dreams, and so did Lee. He actually preceded me in marriage by a full three years.
Although I would never tell him, I’m very proud of all that he has accomplished. He has been a youth and music minister for nearly 20 years, impacting the lives of hundreds of teenagers. He helps his wife, Karrie, run a very successful business in Lake Wales, and is excelling at selling nutritional and weight loss products. He and Karrie are raising an intelligent, beautiful and talented 11-year-old daughter, Kalee.
Our infrequent opportunities to catch up are treasures for me, and I enjoy following his exploits from afar on Facebook. My life changed forever 39 years ago tomorrow, and despite what I may have said in the heat of arguments during our childhood, I’m glad he was born.
While everyone else is donning the green tomorrow in honor of St. Patrick, I’ll be thinking of Lee, our family’s own lucky leprechaun. Having him in our lives is worth more than a pot of gold.