Today is my brother Jim’s birthday. He’s now 60. 60! It’s hard to believe.
60 probably isn’t quite the milestone that it used to be. Some people — mostly, people who are about 60 — say that 60 is the new 40. In UJ’s case, that’s actually pretty accurate. He’s always had that trim, youthful look that causes people to underestimate his true age, and his hair is still, for the most part, as black as it has always been. He doesn’t seem to have the wrinkles or creases that are the old age giveaways, either. Even though he’s my older brother, he looks younger than I do, and that’s been true for a while.
Even if 60 is the new 40, though, 60 years is a long time. UJ is part of my earliest memories. We shared a bedroom in the first house I can remember living in. We played together all the time, and when we moved from our modest home in Akron proper to the more wide-open suburbs of Bath, where we again shared a room, we were part of the same roving gang of boys that played football and built dams and forts and caught crayfish in the stream that ran through the woods near our house. We went bowling and to Cleveland Indians Bat Day doubleheaders and on trips to Washington, D.C. and Ocean City, New Jersey and on Sunday drives to the Blue Hole in Castalia, Ohio with Grandma and Grandpa Neal.
We moved to Columbus, and finally we each got our own room. Our paths began to veer away from each other in other ways, too. We ran with different crowds in junior high and high school, and went to different colleges, but Jim came to some of our college parties and got to know Kish and my other college friends. Our careers went in different directions, too, but the sense of connection is still there, and always will be. When Kish and I moved back to Columbus, Jim and I decided to get season tickets to the Browns. After Dad died Jim and I — well, mostly Jim — managed Mom’s finances. Jim and Richard and Russell and I have taken trips together, to Hen Island and New Orleans and to amusement parks across the land, to get in a little Webner male bonding.
Even though we’ve spent countless hours together, I don’t remember ever getting into a fight with Jim, or even a significant argument. We’ve disagreed about things from time to time, but he’s always been a good brother.
Now Jim is retired, and he hangs out at the pool at his condo with his friends like those in the picture above. He likes to plays the slots at the Hollywood Casino from time to time, and enjoys an occasional drink made with Captain Morgan spiced rum, and there’s usually a toothpick in his mouth. He seems to like his life, and I’m happy for him. It’s just hard for me to believe that he’s 60.
Happy birthday, Jim!