Congratulations 2011 Grads!

My baby brother, Ben Walkley, graduates tomorrow from Tufts University in Boston, MA. I came out from the west coast to surprise him and I couldn’t be happier that I did. With four years between us, it has been difficult to forge a close relationship with my brother. The last time we were in school together was elementary school. One thing we’ve shared over the years, however, has been sports – softball, lacrosse and ice hockey for me; baseball, lacrosse and football for Ben. In fact, Ben played college baseball all four years at Tufts and was a breath away from making it to the College World Series this year. To say I was proud of him would be an understatement.

To meet my brother and me, you’d almost be surprised we grew up in the same house. After I graduated from college, the only thing I wanted to do was go into the Peace Corps and help those less fortunate than myself. Ben? He wants to make millions. Not to say he’s a bad person, quite the contrary. Last I talked to him about it, yes he wants to make millions, but only so he can go back to school to become a math teacher and high school baseball coach thereafter.

Maybe we’re not as different as it might seem.

Ben’s graduation reminds me of my own four years ago, which is a frightening thought. How did we both grow up so quickly? As he celebrates these last couple of days of his childhood, essentially, I can’t help but wonder what the next four years will bring for him. Will he get a dream job, or settle for something less desirable like so many recent grads? Will he come out to California and start a life out there near me? Will our somewhat distant relationship become even more so, or will his adulthood bring us closer?

It’s funny that I’m thinking more about his longterm future than I had of my own when I was in his shoes. Maybe that’s what being an older sibling is all about, worrying about your little brother(s) or sister(s) for them.

I was concerned flying out here to surprise Ben that he wouldn’t be happy to see me, that he’d be apathetic about my presence. Fortunately, despite the stoic way he has about him, he seems pleased that I’m here in his own way. Maybe he’s even more touched than I know.

In honor of his graduation, I have to post this, one of my favorite commemoration songs of all time:

To my brother, I truly do hope you had “the time of your life” at Tufts. I hope you will look back at your time there as I do at my alma mater: with happiness, nostalgia and pride. I hope this is only one of many great milestones in your life that I will have the honor of attending. We may not say it often enough, but Ben, I love you so much. You have always been there for me in some shape or form, and I for you. I always will be, no matter how far apart we may be physically.

You have great things ahead of you, Ben. I can’t wait to see all the wonderful and amazing things you do.

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