Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, John C. Marshall

I am an old lady. My brother is an old man. As senior citizens, we're not famous enough to be wished Happy Birthday by the major media, or by many other people, in fact. Therefore, I am using this platform to wish my brother, John C. Marshall of Hurricane, Utah, a happy 73rd birthday.

What can I say about my only brother? While we were growing up in Wisconsin, there was the usual sibling rivalry. We attended the same schools. I got better grades, not because I was smarter, but because I was a bookish nerd nearly from birth. I was like our father. He, on the other hand, was like our mother: social and popular. Girls chased him all the time. He was also a bit lazy when it came to academic endeavors, much to our parents' distress. Were we friends? I don't think so. It was more like we just ignored each other.

I have only two clear memories of our growing up at home: we both listened to Chicago Cubs game radio broadcasts (this was before TV), and he taught me how to keep score. I couldn't do it now, but for some reason I was proud to be able to do it then. When his school grades slipped, I remember trying to help him with his writing, but I don't think that worked out very well.

Even though we both attended the same college during two overlapping years, we seldom saw each other there. I majored in English, he in Chemistry. I inhabited the library; he explored the social scene. I was always on the honor role; he wasn't. I graduated near the top of my class; he didn't.

Fast forward to the later years: We both became college professors, in different fields and at different types of colleges. He, once the reluctant scholar, went on to earn a PhD, while I eventually settled for an MA. He married young and became the father of two; I married late and had no children.

We both eventually were divorced, I first, to the chagrin of our parents. I eventually remarried and had a long, happy marriage; he has not remarried, and is not likely to at this point. I retired in the big city of Chicago. He hates cities, and retired to southwestern Utah, within sight of Zion National Park

Through many years, my brother and I did not keep in touch, although I did visit on the occasion of his daughter's birth and once or twice later. Strangely enough, we eventually began to share a few interests and activities, and a few similarities began to emerge.

We both learned to love motorcycle touring. I'll admit that my second husband was the impetus for me, while John had been a mortocyclist for years. We both learned to love computers, he in a much more technical sense than I, but he became my personal computer consultant. At one time, we competed for the latest, biggest, best computer. He "sold" me on the benefits of color laser printers, although the ones he buys are far too big to fit into my condo. I do enjoy one of the smaller ones, though. I now ask his advice on electronic matters.

After my husband died, my brother invited me to spend Christmas in Utah. I was surprised and elated. His family was busy elsewhere, and I was alone. It worked out amazingly well; he got me "out of my shell" a bit. We just sat around and read a lot during the holidays, but we always had a few gifts from his family, and I began to feel more connected. I helped him by proofreading the first of his annual family calendars, which have become a tradition.

When I decided to write my first book, my memoirs, John was there to offer his comments via the Internet. I gradually sent him all the chapters, and he made some valuable suggestions. He suggested a friend of his to proofread, and her help was wonderful!

After several years of Christmas in Utah, we began to visit John's daughter and her family in Texas for the holidays, again at his urging. I now look forward to the season I once dreaded.

My brother and I still disagree on a few things, but somehow, as we age, we get more alike: determined, cerebral, and as active as age permits. He still enjoys motorcycling, exploring the Western countryside, while I enjoye non-motorcycle travel all over the world. We disagree somewhat on our parents' natures and influences, but he joined me by contributing to the family tribute to our mother. And yes, he can write very well now.

My advice to everyone, old or young, is to appreciate your siblings. If they are not quite like you, that's o.k. You may become true friends much later in life, and he/she may turn out much better than you predicted!

So Happy Birthday, John. Have many more!

Your sister, Marlys

Copyright 2008 by Marlys Marshall Styne


H.A.Page said...

What a sweet tribute to your brother! He will find it very meaningful.

seniorwriter said...

Thanks. As a matter of fact, he thanked me. I was not quite sure how he'd react.

kathiel said...

I really enjoyed reading this page, thank you.

seniorwriter said...

You're welcome. Come back soon!