Fatherhood seems to be a coat you shrug yourself into. It’s heavy, this coat, it’s navy-expensive and wool-warm, fresh off the rack, the coat is starchy. It will mould itself to the shape of its wearer in time. The coat of fatherhood is thick, you’ve got to stand tall to wear it properly. Pockets-deep, stiff lapels, the fatherhood coat has brass buttons that will become thumb-worn, go missing, and be replaced. Eventually you’ll be buried in your coat.
This week my brother pulled on his fatherhood coat. He seems taller to me; perhaps he’s standing straighter to manage the weight. He seems more responsible; a new coat will do that to a man. The coat fits, will fit better over time, and my brother’s jokes keep coming, his exuberance and impatience because you can wear the coat but you are still you underneath.
I’m impressed by this new man.
My brother is nine years younger than me, we never went to the same school, and by the time he became interesting I was gone. Then by the time I became interesting he was gone. We went our own ways and almost never wound up in the same room.
When our sister died my brother and I we became closer. Death has a way of sorting that stuff out. He and I hit the trails on our mountain bikes and sighed and spoke of Libby or just rode.
You can wear your fatherhood coat over your bike gear, and your motorbike gear, and your man-around-town-gear, so my little brother will be fine.
The baby has my ears, good, proper upstanding ears, and he seems to have my dad’s long skinny arms.
In photos of the bub there are hands baby’s hands, my brother’s hands. In baby’s first video, you can hear voices, female, baby’s mum and a doctor maybe, and there is my brother’s hand. He strokes his baby. Runs his thumb across the baby’s precious knuckles, slips a soft forefinger along baby’s chin. Curls his hand around the baby’s curled hand. My brother’s hands are like my father’s, same thumb, same thumbnail. I’ve never noticed that before. My brother’s hands, peeking out from underneath the cuffs of his fatherhood coat, seem mature and I’m struck by the love in his touch. Struck. My brother, in his almost-invisible fatherhood coat, has changed. He’s in love. And he looks brilliant and beautiful, finished and begun, in his new coat.
his hands and his hands.
i love you, brother and brother’s son.