Gift for My Baby Brother
It was with love, but with some trepidation that I gave my baby brother his primary Christmas Gift this year. Because this gift was of no cost, my wife also found him a nice sweater vest of the style he prefers to wear under a sport coat/jacket when he lectures. The sweater vest is a unique color of brown and olive and should mix with a variety of his brownish sport jackets.
But it is the other gift that I purposefully gave to my baby brother that has both made me feel happiness and yet at the same time feel worry. In order to help you to understand why I have these two emotions, I must first fill in some of the backstory leading up to this gift.
As many of my long-time readers know, I have numerous siblings, including two brothers (one I call the middle brother and the other I call my baby brother). When my beloved father passed away in 1994, my mother asked me to help to sort and distribute some of his more prized personal items to we eight siblings. As all three of us brothers were pipe smokers, I sorted through my father's various pipes (after my mother had selected two for her own memories to keep), and divided them equally according to quality and quantity. In my father's collection of pipes were a few from his own father (my grandfather) and two from his grandfather (my great-grandfather). Some of my father's own pipes were quite old and/or special dating back from his own youth, others were simply work horse pipes not particularly old, noteworthy, or interesting. These latter pipes were often the ones he would pick up at a local pharmacy or pipe shop for a few dollars to use for heavy day-to-day smoking.
So, my first action was to divide up the pipes with special meanings (pipes with special significance to my father, pipes from my grandfather & greatgrandfather, pipes that were particularly old, stylish, or unusual, and then the remainder of the work hourse pipes). I asked each of my sisters if they were interested in having a pipe or pipes as a momento of my father. Four of my five sisters did select a pipe that they have kept. Those four choices actually came out entirely from the "work horse" pipe as each sister seemed to choose one they remember him with later in life. My other sister that did not choose a pipe did not select one because she lives in New York, and her lifestyle is such that it is extremely mimimalistic due to space limitations.
The remaining pipes were to be divided between myself and my two brothers. I divided them evenly into three categories, trying to blend a mixture of old, special, and meaningful pipes with work horse pipes. It was fairly easy to do other than for the two pipes from my great-grandfather. But even that worked out well. As I gave my two brothers their portions of the pipes, I asked what we should do about the two from great-grandfather, we left to think about the issue. My middle brother (who is not sentimental) came to me said that he was ok about not receiving one of our great grandfather's pipes, and he would even be willing to trade back all of the "special" category pipes he received in exchange for more "work horse" pipes. Not being sentimental, he thought it would be best for me and our baby brother (both of us are very sentimental) to divide those. So that is what we did. And in this way, my baby brother received one of our great grandfather's pipes and so did I.
The whole process worked well and I felt I was able to help everyone have momentos from dad and from even grandpa and great grandpa if they wanted. For me, I have the very special pipes of my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather in a special display frame I made with a hinged door that I hang in my den. With each of them, I have a special day each year that I will take them and smoke a bowl of pipe tobacco im them. It is a very spiritual time. For example, I have one pipe that was one my father had since he was a relatively young man. He bought it while on his way to a deer hunt. I take this same pipe with me when I go to deer camp and out in the woods I will fill and smoke this pipe one time, while thinking of him. It is a small way in which I can still feel a connection to my father. I have various times for all the special pipes to be used in a special, more ceremonial manner.
Well, my baby brother too had a significant collection of special pipes as well... notice I said "HAD". It was roughly 4 years ago now that, in a fevered pitch of angst, my baby brother decided that he would cese and desist smoking in any form, and to "reform" each and every aspect of his life (he gave up coffee, became a macrobiotic vegan, and a whole host of other things). In order to help himself (or so he thought) resist the call of the pipes, he very late on that first evening following his declaration went to his garage with all of his pipes in a box and a hammer in his hand and smashed them all to bits.... even the historic pipe from my great-grandfather, the pipes from my grandfather, and some very special pipes of my father! I did not find out about this for several days. I was truly and utterly heartsick when he told me. By this time, he, himself had begun to feel significant remorse over the act as well. It was devestating.
As is often the case with my brother, he exhibits tremendous furvor and passion when he starts a new endeavor, but within a matter of a month or so, most of the hobbies he had sworn off had gradually returned, even the pipe smoking returned roughly 6 weeks after the smashing incident.
Well, in my long-winded fashion, I am trying to get to the point, which is I gave my baby brother one of the beloved special pipes I have from my dear father. I shall miss it greatly as it is one less way for me to be able to establish a connection of sorts with my father. However, I know my baby brother has been hurting and misses him and has been having a rough time himself. When he opened it, he was genuinely touched, and he even cried some, his young (toddler) daughter came up to him and asked why he was crying, causing even more tears.
My concern is he may go through another phase like previous and this historical link to my father is destroyed.
However, I must try to not concern myself with this, as I am hopeful he will not.