To My Brother on His 50th Birthday

To My Brother on His 50th Birthday

On Monday July 31st my brother Kevin turns 50 years old.

Yeah okay lots of people turn 50 years old.

Yeah but this is a African American man who has had some health issues and honestly issues with the law.

He has turned his life around, is a reponsible, married man, helping raise his grandkids, works six days a week running an auto parts store and does automotive repair work on the side.

And he’s my big brother.

We lost our dad three years ago and our eldest brother 16 years ago, he never made 40 years old much less 50.

We’ve lost cousins and friends over the years, I kid you not African American males are an endagered species.

My brother and I are here by the Grace of God, we’ve both had close calls where weren’t almost here anymore.

We are grateful for our existence and our brotherhood and friendship.

Let me tell about my brother, he taught me to say “I love you” when we speak on the phone.

See he lives in Minneapolis, he has been up there 25 years, he loves it and of course I’m here in Chicago where we were born and raised.

But my brother is a giving man, when he was divorced, twice he came to downstate Illinois and helped take care of our dad when he was in failing health.

He came here on the train to help me in our dad’s final days and my mother and I never would have got through the estate without him, he gave so much of himself in that difficult process and asked for nothing.

Kevin’s work ethic is legendary, there is no job beneath him, our dad taught us well and to do every job to the best of our ability.

Kevin has worked in the “pits” of a oil change garage, he’s delivered beer, he worked on cars, worked in car parts stores, driven forklifts in factories, made pizzas and other work some people would turn down.

My brother has rhumatoid arthirtis and it doesn’t slow him down, he gets the job done regardless.

He’s loyal, charming and impresses everyone on every job.

He loves his friends, his family and takes care of them like you wouldn’t believe.

For his 50th birthday, he’s taking his grandkids camping, not having a party for himself but thinking about someone else.

Obviously I’m biased this is my brother but we haven’t always gotten along or been in constant contact.

But I know he’s there for me and has my back and vice versa.

I don’t question my brother’s heart, sure we’ve all made mistakes and our dad could sometimes favor one of us over the other.

See we have different moms, he’s from our dad’s first marriage and I’m nine years younger and from our dad’s second marriage.

Our dad taught us that didn’t matter (he used to love to use the word “abstract”), and that we were brothers and were supposed to take care of each other.

My brother never had me in harms way and even when we didn’t get along and were in very different parts of our lives, I never looked down on him nor resented him and I know was the same with me.

I always felt like he gave me too much credit for being smart because my brother’s mechanical understanding is exceptional, he knows how things work and how to fix them.

He takes such pride in managing his parts store, taking care of his customers and getting the job done right the first time.

He’s also a passionate man, loves his wife and loves to go fishing (see the picture), we text each other whenever we go fishing and when we can we fish together.

We always have and that’s a connection to our dad.

So yes I love my brother, I’m proud of the man he’s become and I wish him a very happy birthday, love you man.

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    Charles W. Johnson

    I'm a lifelong writer (since I was 8 years old), and have been doing this blog in some form or fashion since 2004. I'm a DePaul University alum, class of 1999 and prior to that Brother Rice class of 1994. . And I appreciate you taking to the time to read what I have to say, feel free to email

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