When my brother was just old enough to learn his numbers, and too young yet to sit still in church, I, as his bossy big sister, used to write out simple math problems for him to work on during the service. He’d sit there and work on addition and subtraction and I’d sit there working on more little problems for him, and that way, we managed to keep the bickering, elbowing, and jostling for position to a minimum.
On Saturday, my brother didn’t have any trouble paying attention at church, and he wasn’t sitting in a pew. Instead, he was standing in front of the congregation reciting his wedding vows to his high school sweetheart, surrounded by friends and family.
I ignored my brother for the first part of his life. It wasn’t that I didn’t like him; it was just that he was boring. Having a small baby around is exactly like having a small sack of flour around, except that flour doesn’t make messes or cry a lot. Until my brother could talk I just wasn’t that interested.
But finally he did talk, and immediately, it was clear that he had a lot of interesting things to say.
And when he learned to walk, it was clear that he was also quite brave. One of my most vivid childhood memories is of my brother as a toddler on the night when a broken light fixture fell from the ceiling and slashed his chin open. He didn’t cry, not even a little, even though he was bleeding pretty badly, and my dad drove him to the emergency room half an hour away. He had four stitches put in, and he did not make a sound.
My brother has always been smart, but more importantly, he’s kind and very, very patient with people. I can tell you this because I have played Halo 2 with my brother, and I think I shot him in the back about ten times. This wouldn’t have been a problem in a competitive game, but we were supposed to be on the same side. I just have really bad aim. "Can’t you tell which guy I am?" he’d ask, and I’d say "Well… no." He’d just shake his head and tell me to try again, preferably this time without shooting the wrong weird-looking alien.
He’s always been a pretty snappy dresser, my brother. I can still remember him wearing a pretty fancy white dress in his flour-sack days, when he could barely open his blue eyes and frankly, still smelled kinda funny. Later, he wore hand-me-down Winnie the Pooh pajamas that had once been mine, and often ran around the house in a Batman costume he cherished. When he got older, he traded those in for marching band, football and baseball uniforms.
And on Saturday, he traded his college-kid jeans and tennis shoes for a wide grin, a tuxedo, shiny shoes, a wedding ring, and a gorgeous, wonderful bride.
He had no trouble paying attention in church on Saturday, and the only math that mattered?
One plus one equals one.