United States Of Common Sense

My Brother

Charles and Matt Faddis
Charles and Matt Faddis
Charles Faddis and his younger brother Matt. This is an artists recreation. The mother in the photo was Margaretha Geertruida Zelle in disguise, and agreed to pose for this photo, for Aaron Stipkovich. | Photo: Stipkovich archives | Charles Faddis, Matt Faddis, Brothers, Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, Vintage, Mata Hari,

The envelope

My younger brother and I have a typical sibling relationship. I bust his chops. He busts mine. I love telling stories, some more true than others, about the things he did to me as a kid. He returns the favor. In my telling he ate ice cream and watched television while I worked in the hot sun on the "farm" back in Pennsylvania. In his I abused him unmercifully and left him to do all the work.

Here's a story I don't often tell.

My wife and I got married young. Real young. And truth be told more than a few people probably thought we'd never make it. We got a lot of toasters and salad tongs for gifts. The kinds of things you give a couple when you're not interested in investing a lot in their survival. (That was, for the record, 34 years ago, and I still married to the same incredible woman.)

Our reception was sort of a glorified picnic at my parents' place in the hills of Southwestern Pennsylvania. The chickens were loose in the backyard. There was no alcohol, something that did not go down well with my wife's Polish family who could not really fathom the concept of a "dry" celebration. There was no music. There was no dancing. It was a "restrained" affair.

When my wife and I left the wedding reception and headed off on our honeymoon (two days at Hershey Park), my wife finally had a chance to open the envelopes that had been handed to her at the reception. There were a lot of cards. There were a few gift certificates and some small checks.

And, then, there was an envelope from my brother.

Inside was money. Cash. Twenties, tens, singles, some crisp, many folded and crumpled. There were coins as well, dimes, quarters, nickels and pennies.

It totaled a little over five hundred dollars. My brother was fifteen. It was every cent he had to his name. And he gave it all to us.

When everyone else was hedging their bets and figuring we'd fail, he was all in. That's what a brother does. That's what my brother did for us.

My brother Matt turned fifty the other day. Happy Birthday, Bro. I love you.

And it's still true that I did all the work when we were kids, and you spent your time watching Space Ghost.

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Updated Jan 2, 2019 12:28 PM EST | More details


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