Wanna play______?

I saw a small story online a few days ago about the death of the world’s tallest woman. She wasn’t a stranger to me. I knew all about her and her male counterpart (Robert Wadlow, world’s tallest man) because The Guinness Book of World Records was one book my brother and I read incessantly growing up.

I don’t know what made it so fascinating — maybe because the stories were so odd, the information came in bite-size chunks, and you could pick it up at any page and find something interesting.

Our fascination with Guinness was only one of the many things my brother and I shared. We spent a lot of time together, he and I, even though he was 5-1/2 years older. Hours of games — many of our own devising. Hours of me watching him tend his numerous aquariums (which I hated because they took so much of his time away from playing with me!). Hours feeding one game obsession or another. The Risk obsession, when all we did was play endless games of Risk. The backgammon evenings watching Barney Miller reruns. The pinochle summer (with my sister and eventual brother-in-law) where we had a running tournament all summer long. The hangman days, the Life days, the Monopoly days, the tag-I-T-poison-I-T days. The badminton days. The frisbee days. The let’s-make-funny-recordings-on-this-old-8-track days. Once we made a list of every Star Trek episode from memory (that’s not nerdy, right?).

It was great having a live-in co-conspirator. It was hard when he left for college, leaving me to face the high school years at home alone. But I survived, and so did he. Even though childhood ends, people change, times change, we still have our memories of growing up together — our experience alone, different from the “older kids.”  It just takes a little news story about a woman we met long ago in the pages of Guinness to bring it all back, and be grateful.

Sibling relationships – and 80 percent of Americans have at least one –
outlast marriages, survive the death of parents, resurface after quarrels
that would sink any friendship. They flourish in a thousand incarnations
of closeness and distance, warmth, loyalty and distrust. 
                                                                      ~ Erica E. Goode

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