Wednesdays are supposed to be “Tiny Steps Gardening Days.” Sometimes Wednesdays fall on January 23; when this happens, it will always be my brother’s birthday and family birthdays trump 500 word essays about starting sprouts, saving seeds, or growing tomatoes and back bones.
My brother, Jim Baumer, is 51 today. Last year, he turned 50 and his wife Mary took him on a surprise trip to New York City. Apparently, turning 50 is a “big deal.” I’ve noticed some of my classmates from high school have been Facebook posting about their “nifty fifty diets” and “nifty fifty wrinkle removal creams” and “nifty fifty life reinvention schemes.” Even though I am younger than most of my classmates by virtue of my August birth, I couldn’t help but get a little nervous thinking that I, too, was approaching that “big deal” birthday in less than 24 months.
Why are they starting so early?
I’ve written about my brother a lot on this blog. You can do a search for “Jim Baumer” on this page and find all the times I’ve written about him. He’s been a big influence in my life. He’s the only brother I’ve got. As I approach “Nifty Fifty” I think about all these things.
When I was “Newly Nineteen” and a freshman at the University of Maine at Orono, I was wandering around, kind of lost. I wasn’t sure I liked college; I had just escaped my “freshman triple” dorm living arrangement, and had moved into Androscoggin Hall. While I was glad I no longer roomed with “Bella” and “Bullets,” my new roommate, Cindy, seemed on the edge of a dark ledge and spent every afternoon watching soap operas before she went to her boyfriend’s off-campus apartment.
One afternoon, I trudged down to the Student Union, bought a bus ticket to points south, and ran away.
Jim and Mary had just gotten married and were living in an apartment in Freeport. Freeport hadn’t really “boomed” and the L.L. Bean store was still old, cramped, and dusty. Jim and Mary’s apartment was in a historic house which is now a fast food restaurant. I am reminded of my “running away adventure” every time I go to Freeport.
They must have been surprised that December evening when they came home from work and found me huddled up in their stairwell, waiting for them. I don’t remember how long I stayed; I spent the cold December days walking around Freeport and napping on their Naugahyde couch.
I don’t remember everything we talked about over those days I spent as a couch guest. We probably talked about God and how to deal with adversity. After a few days, I had to go back to school and finish out the semester. My brother gave me a Bible and he wrote “Philippians 1:6” on the dedication page.
Since that time, my brother and I have lived through a number of family feuds and disagreements. I’m ashamed to say that I have often been the one who has sown seeds of discontent in our relationship. Being stubborn and self-righteous are unpleasant qualities for anyone and so far, they haven’t worked for me.
Even though it’s my brother’s “big day” today, I also know he has a big day in his professional life. So I’ll quietly wish him a “Happy Birthday” here from the blog. We are sowing different seeds these days, planting them in more fertile ground.
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (KJV)
I haven’t got that one all figured out yet, but I’m working on it.
Happy Birthday, Jim Baumer!