I always get chills when I watch highlights of the great football players. Peyton Manning recently retired; and his highlight reels are filled with amazing moments. I actually get even greater chills watching highlights of his brother Eli’s epic performances in the clutch in the NFL playoffs, especially guiding both New York Giants Super Bowl wins. Both Manning men lead my brothers’ favourite teams. My brother Les has been a Broncomaniac counting five decades; my brother George has been a G-Man for four. My dog Taylor and his brother Lawrence were both once George’s dogs, named after the NY Giants great.
What moves me to emotion is any example of the relationship these two brothers share, including this video of Eli narrating his big brother’s career, and the clip of Peyton during his retirement speech recounting how much he’ll miss talking to his brother after their respective games. There is no doubt these two brothers love each other (and their oldest brother Cooper).
And that got me thinking about my two brothers, Les and George, and how much I love them both. There’s not a moment that goes by without me thinking of the two of them, and smiling and laughing and shaking my head. We could not be more different. I’m significantly more demonstrative of my feelings than they are, though undoubtedly they are both men with strong emotions living just below the surface, much like our father. They are both tough guys, the type of guys you’d want in your corner if the shit ever really went down.
Over the past year, Les has come to both San Francisco and Los Angeles, where the first was spent days upon days of hiking and the second with friends. Besides dogs and sports, we both have a love of nature and especially hiking in the outdoors. Though I never tell him so, I love it when Les calls me Cisco, my first nickname in junior high, when we were the new kids in school and the first people I met thought I was I saying Cisco instead of Cecil when introducing myself. They sound the same. There’s a love that I feel when I hear the name Cisco. Les is a funny dude, eccentric and endearing. Most rooms he’s in, he doesn’t even realize that he’s the center of attention.
Still, as magnetic and funny as Les is, George may be more magnetic, and funnier, though he barely says more than two words. So he chooses his words carefully. Unless he’s telling a story; he’s the best storyteller I know. Either way, when I’m at the table with either of them, I just keep quiet. Listen. And laugh uncontrollably.
George is the only sibling I’ve lived with as an adult, and in the process, we learned infinitely more about each other than we ever did as kids – the good, the bad, the ugly – and despite rough patches or maybe because of them, we rose to become best of friends. I’ll never forget the moment George and I said goodbye to each other during his bachelor party weekend in LA several years ago. There was a lifetime of love expressed in that moment when we hugged each other. And then there was this moment, many many years prior.
George had just moved in with me in Chicago over fifteen years ago. I was so excited to have my little brother move in. I could picture all the adventures we would now have. That first night, we went out like we would go out so many times over so many years since. We had quite a few pops, and we were feeling good. As we closed down the night, I exclaimed to him how excited I was to have him here with me, how Chicago will never be the same, how we will have epic times, how much I loved him. The words couldn’t come fast enough.
I paused perhaps for a nano second. Sensing an opening, George dead panned “Dude, you gotta take it easy.”
It wasn’t easy taking it easy.
I still laugh inside with that memory. Not much has changed since. And yet, everything has changed since that night.
To this day, my brothers as different from me as different can be, and yet remain the best of my friends.
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ALWAYS BE EPIC.