My brother, Michael, turns 24 today.  To celebrate, here is one of my favorite stories about him. When he was about eight years old, Michael won two goldfish at a 4th of July celebration in Pennsylvania.  He lit up when the man handed him two plastic bags - a fish in each - his treasures.  He spent the whole day floating around the park with pride; his fish spent the day floating around their bags in shock.  At the end of the day, Dad helped Michael dump both of his fish into a big pickle jar, where they would live until we got home.

The fish survived the drive to Virginia, where we stopped to spend a day at King's Dominion.  In the hotel that night, Michael tenderly, lovingly, wanted to change his fish's water.  He carried his pickle jar into the bathroom and sat down cross-legged in the bathtub.  He slowly tilted the jar and craned his sweet little neck to watch the water dribble out.  Once he got a feel for it, he tilted it a little more, then a little more.  Then  FLOOP!  A fish slid out and right down the drain.

Michael's eight-year-old heart was crushed.  He came out of the bathroom with his head hung low, carrying one fish swimming frantic pickle jar-circles in 2 inches of water.  Dad looked at him and said, "I'm sorry, buddy.  Here, let me help you.  You should have asked me for help!  You gotta be really careful, they're slippery!  Watch.  You do it like this..."

Dad leaned over the tub, slowly tiled the jar and FLOOP!  The second fish flopped down the drain after the first.

If I were a teenager I would have said, "Really Dad?  Like that?"

Michael burst into tears and Dad wrapped him up in a huge hug.  "I'm so sorry, buddy. I'm so, so, so, so sorry.  We'll get you some fish as soon as we get home."

A day full of roller coasters served to ease some of the sting, but we still joke about the time Dad, aquarium enthusiast, dumped Michael's last prize fish down the drain.

Man, now I want to give him a hug even more than I did before!  Maybe if I squeezed him hard enough, eight-year-old Michael would feel it too.

(Michael and Kodi, our favorite Malamute.)

(Reading to Madeline.)

(Kisses from Madeline.)

(Deep frying a turkey.)

(With me at my baptism.)

(With him at his graduation.)

(Christmas in New York.)

(Also, he is the Dubstep king.)

Happy birthday, bud!

I love you! Katers