The saying always went “you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family”. 24 years ago, I was introduced to someone who would serve as both my family and my best friend. Although we’ve gotten into plenty of arguments, fights, and whatever else brothers go through, there’s no one I protect more than my little brother. Being an older sibling taught me how to love someone more than I love myself, how to be a guardian and mentor, and more than anything, how awesome it is to basically have a younger, taller, and almost as good-looking version of myself in my brother. Let’s go back and learn a little bit about this bozo on his birthday, shall we?
June 1st, 1992, a skinny, tiny little boy came into the world and changed our family’s lives forever. I’ve watched home videos of that day, and wherever my new baby brother went, I was there. Partially because I wasn’t used to my parents paying attention to someone other than myself, but mostly because I wanted to learn everything I can about this little dude I’d call Willie. Phil and Will: has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Almost like a super hero duo, except instead of stopping trouble, we’d be causing it. This was the start of a beautiful friendship, and the first day that I found my sidekick.
Growing up as an older brother can be hard. You always have to watch your little brother’s back, make sure that you keep him in line when he screws up, and are responsible for just about anything that happened to him (because, you know, you’re older and should’ve known better). Keeping an eye on Willie wasn’t too hard, seeing as we have done and still do just about everything together. Keeping him in line, however, that’s a different story. Willie is a very independent person, and dances to the beat of his own drum (and nowadays tries to write a rhyme to it). Naturally, that meant we’d disagree at times, but in the end he’d do it his way and I’d support it 100%. Not to mention that he taught me a lot of things about myself that others didn’t notice, or want to tell me about myself. He’s a straight up, like it or leave it type of person, and I commend him for that.
I remember one of the first fights that my brother and I had gotten into. It was upstairs in our room (notice I said “our”, since we shared a room until almost our teens) and Willie and I were screaming at each other. My dad came upstairs and said “you guys want to fight each other? Go ahead, fight!” I wrestled Willie, pinned him to the ground with a knee on each shoulder, leaving him vulnerable to an old fashion older brother beat down. The only thing was, when I looked down and saw him sad, upset, and defenseless, I totally forgot why we were mad in the first place, and proceeded to jump off of him. My father stepped in and said “You see what happened Willie? Phil could’ve really hurt you. But he knows that you’re his brother, and he would never want to hurt you. Instead of fighting each other, you should be fighting FOR each other”. It was then that we learned we’d do better working together than against each other. Sure we’ve had plenty of other altercations after that, but in the end, we’d always make up and our bond would only get stronger. Hey, even boxers spar before they actually fight, right?
As time passes and we get older, I learn that Willie is so much like me that it’s scary. We both have the same sense of humor, same taste in sports and music (even though he likes the Red Sox, thanks Chris & Ryan), and at times I’d find him saying something that I was just thinking about. We apparently talk alike, and on the right day some people say that we look-alike (still don’t see it). Although he’s taller than me by a few inches, he’s still my little brother. Any story I have, 9 times out of 10 Willie was there. I can honestly say that any changes that I saw in my brother were for the better, he’s maturing and becoming the man who our family had known that he is capable of being. Not to mention he’s had a pretty good mentor.
Recently, I decided to move out of my house and try the whole “live on my own” thing for once. It will be the first time that I will be living somewhere that isn’t my home, and the first time that I won’t come home to my parents and ask them “where’s Willie?” Every day when I would come home, that would always be the first question I ask, no matter what kind of day I had. Not like I’m moving far away (about 5 minutes from my house actually), but the fact that I won’t be coming home to hang out with my brother after work kind of makes me a bit sad. He has an open door policy at my house (sorry guys, but we’re a package deal) and can stop by whenever he wants. Ask him if he’ll miss me, he’ll probably joke around and say “a little”. If I know my brother like I do, I know he misses me as much as I miss him, he just has a better poker face.
Finally, I just want to take the last portion of this post to just tell Willie how much I love him. Willie, Willie Balls, Will Thomiz, my little bro: there literally aren’t enough words, emotions, or actions that can sum up how much you really mean to me. The only person I talk to when I get into one of my moods, the guy who will literally sit me down and make sure I’m ok, and the guy who always embraces me no matter what happens. Concerts, vacations, hockey teams, camps, the occasional Tenacious D “Miss You” solos, and causing mischief and havoc everywhere we went, all of these memories and more will forever be in my heart. I’ll always have your back and make sure that you’re on the right path. You’ll forever be my sidekick, my partner in crime, one half of the dynamic duo that is Phil & Will. Love you from the womb to the tomb, and I hope you enjoy your special day!