my (not so) little brother

The last time I saw him in March of 2011, I could still call him my little brother and not feel like I was at risk of insulting him.  But this weekend I realized that I may have to start rethinking that title I've so carelessly tossed his way in the past.  Perhaps it's time to move to the term "younger brother" instead?

because he's certainly not little anymore.  and no, he's not on his toes and i'm not bending my knees...
Yep, at 'not quite 15' he's got me by quite a bit.  And now I'm asking, "Ohmygoodness when did this happen?"

Shortly after our dad passed away, Alex and his mom moved to NC so she could get a nursing degree at one of the schools in our university system.  In the time lived just a few hours across the state, Ian and I had the luxury of having Alex spend several weekends a year at our home.  It was fun getting to know this child that was born when I was 24.  But then in May of 2010, just weeks after Darcy came home, they moved back to Maine and I've seen him just once  (at my grandfather's funeral) since.

Until this weekend...

He's back in the country from boarding school in Australia for summer break (how shocking to leave summer and head back to a cold Maine winter?) and his mom let him fly down for the weekend to visit my sister and I...

...and of course the six kids who know him as "Uncle Alex."

We visited a nearby gold mine where Alex played the role of educator,

explaining volcanoes to my big boy
 tour guide,
leading his nieces and nephews into the mine
 and pack mule.

simply had to recreate the photo below, taken in March of 08...
could this really be the same two kids?
The last time Alex stayed with us for a weekend was in late 2009, shortly before he and his mom moved back to Maine...back when he was still short and a bit chubby and called himself Alexander.  He was adorably cute, knew everything (or so he thought), and was slightly awkward.

 I adored him then, but thought of him more as one of my kids who came to stay with us from time to time than I did my brother.  Before this visit, his mom warned Traci and I that we wouldn't believe how much he's changed.  I had seen pictures, so I knew that he had grown considerably taller and had thinned out.  But I wasn't fully prepared for the young man that tossed his arms over my shoulders and welcomed me with a "Hey sis, it's good to see you."

He's so much 'a man child' now instead of a boy.  He is amazingly polite, quite witty, and a great conversation holder.

And then there is him having grown into the role of being an uncle.  Where he used to get a little annoyed when the kids showered him with too much affection, he now fully embraces it.

And dare I say, rather welcomes it.

I mean, he clearly enjoys being an uncle.  Or at least that's how I'll explain him rolling around on the ground, letting all six kids tackle him...

and then pin him to the ground without complaint.  In fact, no grumblings, but rather a huge smile on his face.

Alex made quite the impression on all of the kids, but especially his youngest nephew.  This weekend may have been the first time Alex and Daniel met, but they had a moment over the iPod playing Angry Birds.

It sealed the relationship forever.

Oh how I wish Alex wasn't headed back to the other side of the world in February.  (I did try to convince him that my area of NC has some mighty fine boarding schools...)  We're all going to miss him so!  I just hope that it doesn't end up being several more years before I get to see my little brother ~ oh wait, old habits die hard ~ my younger brother again.


Ralf said...

I think I know this gold mine, too... I have to flick through old photo albums!

Our Journey to China said...

What an awesome uncle! And what awesome moments to remember, bonds to strength and love to grow!!!

Traci said...

IT was so fun to have him hear!

Glenda said...

What a blessing for Alex and all of the other kids!