Congratulations, Little Bro!!
Today I had the distinct pleasure of being a groomsman for my little brother, Jacob. Not that unusual, you might say.........and you'd be right (sort of). After all, I was there for my older brother's 1st wedding back in 1996. I'm sure many of you have had the wedding experience for a sibling. And make no mistake about it- Jacob is my brother even if we don't share the same blood.
However, Jacob is (technically) my brother-in-law, although I have never used that term. I do not refer to Jo as my sister-in-law, either. My mother and father-in-law don't get that label. They are my family. 22 years I have been a part of this family, and it's been one of the biggest blessings in my life. If you'd have told me at 16 that I'd gain a baby brother who'd go on to have such a profound impact on my life I'd have laughed at you (I was a teen heathen hellraiser, after all). But this future "in-law" changed me in many ways.
Is the term "in-law" one with a negative connotation? It depends on who you ask. Some people can't stand theirs. Mine are the shit. They've seen me through all of my bad decisions, good decisions, reckless and borderline suicidal decisions. They've never judged. Ever.
The great thing is that I've been a part of this family since both my little brother and sister WERE BORN. I was there. There hasn't been a period of any significant time in their lives when Cindy and I weren't there. It's been incredible watching them grow into the amazing all-around human beings that they are today.
Hell, I fancy that I might have had a little hand in that.
So, did I attend the wedding of my "little brother"? You bet your ass. It was a lot of fun (certainly the most fun I've had at a wedding were I didn't drink ha ha ha). I left with a happy heart, and a happy heart is not a condition I often suffer from (remember my self-analysis lol).
At the same time I attended the wedding of a man who is as much a son to me as he is a brother. I don't say that lightly. Before Jake, I was the guy who couldn't stand kids. If you handed my one I'd drop it as if it were a foreign object that the ref caught me with in a title match. But.....this kid melted my heart.
He showed me wonders I didn't know I could accept. We were wrestling buddies. He jumped off chairs and nearly put my eye out with flying roundhouse kicks. When he stood up and yelled out "I got two words for ya- SUCK IT!!" I did a great job of withering under Mom's baleful glare....but I beamed with pride on the inside. This was my boy, and he was crotch-chopping with the best of 'em (he wasn't allowed to watch wrestling with me anymore, though).
Over the years he's remained the badass dude with the "hands of God" (he never dropped a pass). He's a natural leader and an incredible athlete. He's a little bit cocky....but it's the right kind of cocky. He's ridiculously good-looking.
He's also remained the humble and decent man he is today. It's beyond gratifying to see who he has become. He's "that guy", the one who's going to do the right thing even when no one is looking. It's a bit nutty to watch sometimes, to be perfectly honest. I think I taught him what not to do.
And, of course, he's as diehard of a Clemson Tiger as anyone in my family....maybe more so.
When he and his fiancee took their first vacation where did they go? That's right- sleepy little Clemson, South Carolina! He was born in Charleston, but the orange and purple is in his blood. On his first birthday we bought his a Clemson "onesie" to wear. Two decades later I watched him become a husband to an equally amazing woman.
A lot of folks know that my daughter is a bona fide medical miracle. My chances of ever having a son and carrying on the Monroe name are slim. I was blessed with a true Daddy's Girl. She is my universe and along with her mother she utterly completes me.
Still, I feel like I watched my son get married today. I honestly didn't know I could be that proud. I looked at my father and knew exactly what my expression was behind those sunglasses. I held back some hardcore tears (as I stood there sweating through that pimp-ass suit). You don't get a ton of experiences like that in life; none of us do. You get a handful if you're blessed in abundance. You'd better recognize them for what they are.
I'm incredibly thankful for this one, and I'll put it on a massive pedestal. I'm proud of you, B. Thank you for being a remarkable brother and a son. Congratulations.