It was 1936 in Miri, Sarawak, Borneo, and my mother was expecting her second child.
My big brother, Bill, was a sturdy four-year-old who wanted a baby brother to play with. Imagine his disappointment when he learned that Mum had given birth, not to the expected playmate, but to a baby girl. YECCHHH!
Mum loved to tell the story of how reluctantly he came to the local hospital to meet his new sibling. When he got there, he inspected the babies, all snugly swaddled in a row of cots in the nursery, like a cranky master sergeant reviewing a troupe of unpromising new recruits.
Borneo was at the crossroads of South East Asia at that time. The eclectic selection of infants on display reflected the rich diversity of a multicultural melting pot. There were Siamese, Chinese, Malayan and Tamil babies from South India. Every color and shade of Asia was represented. All were beautiful! But only one was white. Me.
Bill sighed. But he resigned himself to the fact that only one of these babies could possibly be related to him. And it was a sister. A girl…
“Oh well,” he said loyally, “She’ll do.”
After that, he got down to the business of being the best big brother a girl ever had. I adored him from the start. I still do.
He took me for rides on the back of his tricycle when I was still in diapers. He taught me to climb the big mango tree in our garden and helped me set up my tree-house “office” where I wrote and illustrated my first stories. We are all grown up now. But he is still one of my best friends and supporters.
Big brothers can be such a blessing. Little brothers too. (I’ll have to write about them next.) I can’t speak for sisters because I never had one. Though I have had many sisters of the heart that have more than compensated for that lack.
Brothers, sisters, families, toddlers, friends. They are the frosting on Life’s cake. No, they ARE the cake!