Tonight I celebrated my only sibling, my brother's birthday, he will be 41 in a few short days. He is my older brother, and he has Down Syndrome. My mom and dad tell me that about age 5 I realized he was unique and I began to take on the role of the big brother in many situations. Growing up we were always together, playing sports, vacations, going to park, and arguing over car seats. Pretty normal stuff for two brothers. As a matter of fact nothing was different until we were around other people that were not our immediate family. In all situations I learned so much from him and about me.
Perseverance/grit - Such trendy words in academics, but my brother figured this out very early on. He was not going to be held back as the perception that he could not achieve would lend you to believe. He was stubborn enough to figure out most of what he needed and occasionally asked for help. He mostly though, wanted to do everything himself. I just watched him continuously struggle until he got the level of success that was achievable for him.
Willingness to Fight - There were so many instances growing up where my brother and I would be in a situation on a playground or other area where people would make comments, looks, or in some cases physically harass my brother. Many times it was older kids and not knowing any better I would get in fights with them. They mad me so angry and I felt I had no other choice. I usually lost, but at least I felt like we took away from the exchange a feeling of not backing down.
Patience - Because my brother was so stubborn and at times needed more time to complete tasks, he and I both had to be patient with each other. I had to be patient as to not do everything for him, and he needed to be patient not to get frustrated and yell at me for telling him to hurry up. Going through this cycle almost every day for more than a decade showed me that people need to have experiences for themselves to feel accomplishment and we need to give them the time to find successes.
Positive outlook on life - I don't ever think I saw my brother depressed. He certainly got upset, threw a tantrum, and refused to comply (many times), but it was always short lived. He showed me what it means to have short memory about the negative and look forward to better times ahead. He taught me that the moment is the moment, and when possible the future looks better, try to get there as soon as possible.
Happy 41st Birthday Bro! You have taught me more than any other individual I have ever come in contact with. I can not thank you enough, although I know you don't want or need that. You just want to be my brother and I feel the same way.