I am blessed beyond measure. I have the most wonderful brother a sister could have. I was 11 when Andy was born. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. I had spent the better part of those eleven years praying specifically for a brother. I WANTED an older brother to protect me, but when Andy came along I was more than thrilled. I'm pretty sure the world stopped turning the instant he entered my life. Momma was petrified of germs. She had miscarried a few times and had a still birth, all boys, so she would not let me touch him, not at all :( So the first night she was home from the hospital she slept on the floor on one of those egg crate mattress pads with him beside her. She had a waterbed and was afraid to have him sleep with her on that. So I slept on the floor too right beside her and Andy. While they slept I stayed awake and watched Andy. I fell in love intensely and when momma was deep asleep I would touch his little foot. She caught me once and got onto me.
From that moment on I belonged to that little boy. The second I got home from school Andy was mine. Into my room he went. I had tons of books, and he would take them all off the shelves and stack them in piles. Every night I would put them back up. I never got onto him once. I got $2 for lunch each day, but it only cost $1.10. I saved that extra money to buy things for Andy. I bought him his very first rattle. He was my everything. If I had a friend spend the night as a teen, Andy was still right beside me. I can't tell you the nights that little boy fell asleep in my arms or I played Sega wee into the middle of night because it made him happy to watch the screen. He was spoiled beyond measure. Our whole family adored him. My mother never spanked Andy. He was the chosen one, and I never had the time to be jealous. It never occurred to me to feel jealousy toward him. I wanted the best for him, and anything good that happened to him was well deserved. I remember taking him on a date one time. The guy was very understanding ;) I promised mom not long after he was born that if anything ever happened to her, I would take care of Andy and raise him.
When I met my husband one of the first things I told him was that we were a package deal. Little did I know my mother would die within a year. Andy went into foster care for a short time. I was 17. I actually went to a lawyer to see what I could do, which of course was nothing. I had to stay under the radar or be taken into state custody myself. Those 6 months were the worst of my life, Andy suffered abuse in the foster home. Our father got Andy back after about 6 months, but neither were ever the same. I truly love my father but those were tough years. He was in no shape or form able to raise a child, so Andy bounced back and forth from me to him. When Andy was 10, and I was 21 I got legal custody of him. I maxed out my first credit card to pay the lawyer and court fees. Within a few years Dad straightened up. I retained custody of Andy, but he saw our dad as much as he liked. We even shared every single Christmas day. We never had a court agreement or visitation stuff, we just worked it out between us. Dad knew Andy needed stability and by that time his health was failing. Still, he was always there for us. He always helped provide whatever Andy needed and often helped his granddaughters out too. It just worked.
Andy is 21 now. There is still nothing in this world I would not do for him, and he feels the same about me. He is good and kind, and the world is a better place just because he is in it. I can't tell you how many times people have said I did some great thing by raising my brother. I don't understand that at all. I PRAYED for him. He was my dream come true. Your damn right I made sure he had everything he ever needed. He was MY BABY, my Andy. My life was better just because he was in it. Andy is so special. All children adore him. My kids scream and jump when he walks into the house. When he moved out and went to college, Miri wore his hoodie for MONTHS. Just seeing him makes me feel better. It's nothing to see us strolling along arm in arm with my head on his shoulder. He was the first person I was ever sure of that loved me, and when he was 3, he promised he would never break my heart. So yes, I was my brother's keeper, and I would have it no other way.