It’s my twin brother’s birthday today. We’re going to a matinee movie, which if you knew my brother, is quite something. Loud noises really bother him. Dunkirk, the movie, nearly did him in. We’re seeing The Rider about a rodeo rider from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota who suffers an accident and is advised not to ride again. It’s an Indie film that’s won lots of awards. Because we’re from North Dakota, I’m sure he’ll take a special interest in it. I can’t wait for the credits to roll at the end. I always love hearing what he thinks about things like movies, books, music, and sports.
Let me tell you about him.
The way I heard it Mom loved the name Brent and so she chose the name Brenda because it went with Brent. Brent and Brenda. Brent claims she loved the name Brenda and named him Brent because it went with Brenda. It really didn’t matter. In the early years growing up on a North Dakota farm, we were called Butch and Babe after a team of horses Grandpa had.
He’s a bachelor. He’s had relationships with women. Each time he was the new man in a woman’s life after she’d left her husband and her children pretty much didn’t like him much…until they got to know him for who he is. He’s funny, very funny. He’s fairly anti-social but when he’s social, everyone flocks around him. He has the attention of everyone in the room. And deservedly so; he’s irreverent, says things that others wouldn’t; he’s a great storyteller with a quick wit and a phenomenal memory. I love being in his audience whether that’s around the living room at the lake in Minnesota, at the kitchen table when we’re playing cards, or in the audience of packed rooms at one of the book readings he used to do. And if you want to know anything about Texas songwriters, he’s the guy to talk to.
He’s a poet. He published a book called Transient Sex in 1989. It got a far amount of attention from the poetry part of the world. But when he brought a copy home for Mom and Dad, Mom hid it in her room so no one else would read the title. It could be referenced in California but not in North Dakota around the relatives.
I can say whatever I want about him because he’ll never see this. We coerced him into buying a computer but he quickly threw the towel in. He did all his writing on a word processor which is now extinct. He doesn’t have email. No Facebook or Instagram. He was given a relic of a cell phone maybe three years ago for “just in case” but has no interest in a smartphone.
We travel a lot together. The ‘twins’ always go back for the summers in Minnesota to be with family. Our trips became more frequent when Todd died, and then Mother fell. We were at her side for a month one January. Then back again in March for her funeral. Since then we get back to see Dad sometimes in springtime and summer. I go back in January but he hates the cold so he stays here.
He lives 35 minutes away. When I moved to Los Angeles, California to live in the 1970’s, not visit, he followed. In the 80’s we were both in Marin County. When we’re on those flights home, I love listening to him talk to strangers. He’s so very kind and interested in them. He’s quirky and kind, two fine qualities.
He’s Uncle Brentie
When the kids call on him, he’s there. Erin was asking my advice for her apartment this spring. I’d helped her with the living room, dining room, and bedroom. Then one morning when I was there she said, “What do you think about the kitchen? I said, “It needs paint.” She had to go to work but she wondered if Uncle Brentie would come and paint her kitchen while she was away. “Call him up,” I said. “Sure,” was his answer. He just needed to be home in time for a 5 o’clock NBA basketball game.
So I pulled out the Benjamin Moore paint color fan (I always have one handy) and Brent came to the City and we picked out a color together. We got lost finding the paint store on Fillmore Street. Once we got the paint it was time to grab lunch. We walked up and down Fillmore. People in their yoga clothes and their dogs on leashes were passing us left and right. “Do you feel like a country bumpkin from North Dakota right now?” I said. I know I sure did! We were a long ways from the farm!
Erin got home in time to help Brent paint while I watched. He and I make an excellent team.
I wish I could really help you see who my twin brother is. I’m going to get my kids to help. At Christmas 2002 we didn’t buy Christmas presents. We made Christmas presents. My art project was inspired by these hand made accordion bound 5″X7″ notebooks I found in an art store. I took family pictures of each of my kids and then interviewed family members about each of them. I interviewed the kids about each other; I interviewed Mom and Dad; I interviewed Brent and then I added my own thoughts.
Here you’ll get a glimpse of Brent and the relationship with his nieces and nephew.
About Erin he said:
About Caitlin he said:
About Trevor he said:
You can see that he’s known for being fun and silly. He plays with them and they play with him.
It made it especially hard on the kids when he and I went through a 6-year period when we didn’t speak to one another. It was hard on me, my parents, my kids. My other brothers were baffled, but there were very clear reasons. It’s hard to imagine not having a relationship with him when he was the most important person to me. To hear the rather bizarre circumstances that got us back together, read One Shining Moment.
I love my brother Brent. People sometimes ask what it’s like to have a twin. I really don’t know. It’s just our situation. I know I’m very glad we weren’t twin girls because Mom planned to name girls Colleen and Colita. Colita? It’s a rare name for a baby girl, not even in the top 1000 baby names for girls.
Oh, you probably want to know who’s oldest. He is, by 14 minutes.
Last time we flew together I tried to get him to take a selfie with me. This is at the SF International Airport. In August we’ll be flying to Fargo to visit friends and family. I’m glad I’m not going alone. I like it best when he’s there. Everyone does!
After the movie we’ll be joining the kids and their mates for dinner, a reservation for nine. It’s a good day. Happy Birthday, Brent!
I have many more stories about this guy, but those are for another day. Do you have a brother or sister story to share with us? Maybe a special bond? Please share! I love your family stories. Blessings to you all today.