I am the eldest of 3 children. My brother is 4 years younger and every good thing that has happened to me, he’s beaten me to the punch on sharing with our parents. Let’s say I got the lead in a musical or won an award, Baby bro was always the first to break the news. A particular specialty of his was what I’d like to call “the car door swoop and blurt.”
The concept was simple, Baby Bro would wait by the window for our Mom to pull in the driveway each evening, my room happened to be upstairs, so after school I would often cloister myself in my room chatting on the phone (yes, we did that way back in the dark ages.) Baby bro, being the good news VULTURE that he is, without fail, would swoop right in and meet Mom at her car door to blurt out ALL the important announcements of our house hold.
When I got my acceptance letter to college, SCOOP!
When my sister got invited to take the SAT at 10, SCOOP!
When Dad booked our two-week Disney World Vacation, SCOOP!
No good deed was left un-blurted, the child truly had a gift for gossip.
Frustrated and angered by his wily and effective strategies, I affectionately dubbed him Scoop. As the years have passed, and we’ve all settled into our various adult lives and pursuits, Scoop’s opportunities to blab all the good stuff became severely limited, one would have even thought ol’ Scoop had given up the game and moved on, nary a bean was spilled for years. Scoop and I were at a peaceful détente, as the rivalry matured to friendship, why, I began to actually trust Scoop with my good surprises. For years he kept them. And then, like a fool, I shared what L4L and I had decided to name our yet to be born daughter.
“Listen, I’m going to tell you something SUPER TOP SECRET, don’t tell anyone! The baby’s name is going to be…”
Not 3 hours later, while ambling through Target registering for baby crap, I received a call from my Mother. This was the woman who wasn’t going to be notified of the name until I was face to face and could gauge her truest reaction to our rather unconventional choices.
“AUSTIN TOLD ME THE NAME, I JUST LOVE IT!”
I thanked mom and assured her that I was planning to tell her when I visited the next morning. She replied with an old phrase I’d nearly forgotten but had heard repeated multiple times, “Oh you know Scoop just can’t help but share good news!”
My blood boiled and the pregnancy hormone tidal wave raged, the little jerk had done it again. I raised my fist and face to the heavens and screamed my ancient battle cry: “SCCCCCCCOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPPPPPP!!!!!!!!”
That day I made a solemn promise to myself, no matter how long it took, I was going to get the scooping scooper back.
Four years came and went, Baby Bro became an awesome uncle and also fell in love with a wonderful woman named Lauren. Because my name is also Lauren, sh*t had the potential to get mighty confusing at family gatherings, so she took the nickname Dos. Dos and Baby Bro have been together for a couple of years and moved in together a year ago. Each Thanksgiving, as y’all might remember, we gather at the family Longhorn ranch to celebrate and ring in the holiday season. In August, Baby Bro told me a very big and exciting secret:
“I’m going to propose to Dos at the Ranch this year. While we’re on a sunset walk, I’m going to pop the question. It’s still in the early stages so keep mum chum.”
Because Dos is solid gold awesome, his news was a welcome bombshell. My squeals of delight gave way to joy, and a wonderful thought came over me, I knew just what to do with this precious and delightful news, I was going to scoop the f*ck out of it.
That Friday, as was customary for every Friday before, my folks came to visit for the day, I waited about 5 minutes before I dropped the awesome-bomb. I sat down in the living room and chatted for a bit with Mom, as the topics swirled, I gently steered the conversation towards the upcoming holiday season. Okay, perhaps I wasn’t that subtle.
“Mom, do you remember how Austin used to meet you at the car door each evening and would spill any and all good news beans, thus spoiling it for the rest of us?”
“Of course, how could I forget Ol’ Scoop, your brother sure does love sharing great updates!”
“Well, I’ve waited 4 years, since he let Valor’s name slip to you prematurely, patiently waiting for almost half a decade to “scoop’ him and some of HIS good news.”
“Today is that day, Mom. Austin told me earlier this week that he’s planning on PROPOSING TO DOS AT THE RANCH THIS THANKSGIVING!!!!!”
Mom’s reaction was overjoyed, “IT’S ABOUT TIME! That’s wonderful news, oh, how I love that girl!”
While basking in the glow of my Mother’s beaming happiness, I got a taste of the glory that ol’ Scoop had become addicted to all those years ago, It felt great to Scoop his announcement. I got to witness all of the pleasure with none of the work. Afterall, I wasn’t busting MY hump trying to find the perfect ring and words to pop the question with, all I had to do was let the good news roll and enjoy the reactions.
Little did I know, less than 2 weeks later, our Mother would unexpectedly pass away peacefully in her sleep.
The first few days we cried and comforted each other as a family, and when the fallout dust settled, sweet memories began to flow. Every conversation was replayed and explained, each moment of kindness and love was retold. After a particularly hard evening planning funeral stuff, Baby Bro and I sat out on my patio and chatted, the sun was setting and all at once, a recent memory surfaced.
MOM DIED KNOWING AUSTIN WAS GOING TO PROPOSE TO DOS! I HAD TO TELL HIM!!!
“I’m glad you’re sitting down Baby Bro, I have something to confess. For years, I’ve vowed to scoop you, Scoop, I promised myself four years ago when you spilled Valor’s name beans to Mom, that I would swoop and blurt your next big scoop.”
“Aww C’mon, you’re still mad about that!? Look, it just slipped out, I thought you had already told Mom and Dad the name…”
“It doesn’t matter, you tortured me for YEARS Scoop, and I’m proud to say, I FINALLY got you back!”
“Oh really? “
“Yep, 2 weeks ago I spilled the beans and told Mom that you were going to propose to Dos at the ranch.”
“What did she say?”
“She was elated and said: ‘It’s about time!’ Oh Austin, she was SOOOOO happy to hear it, she really loved Dos.”
After we both cried for a few moments and laughed at our silly sibling war games, Baby bro melted my heart, and made me feel like a real dik, simultaneously:
“I’m glad you told her and grateful that she was happy about it, and more importantly, that you got to witness her joy.”
Fast forward a month later, we’re still getting over her untimely departure, the sorrow has lightened, but still seeps into our hearts at various unexpected moments. Austin’s perfect plan of a proposal turned into something far more meaningful. See, if there’s anything this has taught us, it’s that life is most certainly not guaranteed.
Yes, I knew that already…BUT until it happened to me personally, I didn’t appreciate the fleeting nature of our time in this mortal realm. It’s astounding and profound, one moment you’re cracking jokes and rolling your eyes, and the next you are devastated by an abrupt goodbye that cannot be undone. Yesterday’s Scoop revenge morphed into the one and only reason my Mother died knowing that her son had wisely chosen to marry our beloved Dos.
Baby Bro called me last week with a humble and impossible to ask question. Seeing as I’m the eldest, this past month I’ve become an expert in fielding difficult questions.
“What do you think about Dos wearing Mom’s engagement ring, sort of like on permanent loan?”
“I think that’s perfect. MOM LOVED DOS and definitely would approve! I’ll talk to Dad and see where his head’s at. I don’t want to come off as a ghoul, so it’s probably gonna take a few weeks, I’ll let you know.”
Obviously, Dad AKA the man who put that beautiful (custom-made, one of a kind,) ring on our Mother’s finger almost 40 years ago, would have to be fully on board.
Last Friday, per the usual, Pops showed up for a visit. We chit chatted on the couch when a heavy realization came over me, there was no way I could ask him about Mom’s rings, at least not for a few months. The task of discussing our dead Mother’s rings, with this man who loved her unconditionally for 41 consecutive years, seemed insurmountable. I decided to let the universe sort itself out a bit before I tackled Baby Bro’s mountainous request.
A few hours later, without any cause, or prompting, Dad shared a confession:
“I have no idea what to do with your Mother’s rings.”
“Austin wants to propose to Dos with Mom’s engagement ring. He said he’d love for his wife to wear Mom’s ring.”
Dad began to weep, his tears accompanied a beaming smile, “That’s perfect. What a genius solution, I’ll bring them to the beach cookout next weekend.”
A week later, in the glorious clear light of a beach side sunrise, my brother got on one knee and took out the very same ring box our father first presented in 1975.
“Well Cribsy, what did she say?”
Behold! The gloriously manicured hand of my future sister-in-law, Dos.
No, they haven’t set a date, but all signs are currently pointing to a Fall of ’15 wedding. I’m telling you this so early because, well, I’ve decided to keep on scooping Scoop.
Congratulations Baby Bro and Dos, know that Mom is smiling down upon you and wishing that she could be here to nag y’all about having kids. May today be the least you love each other and your future be filled with laughs and triumphs.
HE PUT A RING ON IT, Y’ALL!
(PS: I think I know who I’m hiring for the bachelorette party!)