I figure I see the posts today on Facebook about the fact that it’s National Sibling Day – so why not make a post about my own siblings and honor them? I mean, I have this soapbox and all, right? And maybe I owe them for all the times that I was a jerk of a big brother, right? Right?!

Well, first of all – before I get into how cool my siblings are and how much I love them – I need to reflect a little on what it meant to be a sibling in my own particular family. I am the oldest of all my siblings. I was born in 1981, and then – when I was three years old, my first sibling was born. Garrisen, or as we all came to call him for short – Gary. Then, a couple years later came my next sibling – my sister Monika. After that was Chadwick (Chad for short) and then Alexander (Alex for short). On top of that, we also sort of “adopted” into our ranks another brother Richie, who was the original son of one of our stepfathers (which was Alex’s real father – I’ll get into all this later).

We all grew up mostly in Lewiston, Maine – with the exception of Alex and Richie, who grew up mostly in New Hampshire. My own biological father either left or was cast out (hard to tell what really happened, let alone if he’s my actual father) which left me to think for a long time that I shared a father with Gary, Monika, and Chad. Later on, my mother divorced their father and then married a new guy – the father of Alex and Richie. Make any sense? Technically, all my siblings are half-brothers/half-sister to me aside from Richie who would be my stepbrother by marriage…but none of that mattered much to any of us, as far as I can tell. We were just brothers and sister. We grew up poor, we grew up under some harsh circumstances and trying times, and we came out relatively okay. No matter what we all went through, none of us ever seemed to fight so bad that we hated one another. To this day, most of us still stay in touch and hang out on a regular basis. We are all adults now, the youngest of my siblings having just recently turned twenty one years old with the coming of January. I couldn’t be more proud of my siblings, of where they’ve gone and what they’ve come through. Starting with the next oldest of my siblings and working my way down, I will write up a brief little snippet on what they mean to me and why I’m proud of them.

MY BROTHER GARY

My brother - Garrisen Robert Brown.

My brother – Garrisen Robert Brown. I took this photo of him at the Portland Museum of Art when he came to visit me recently.

Gary has literally been with me for the longest period of time due to the fact he was born so recently after I was. When we were young, we used to share a room with one another due to being the only two boys for a while – and at one point, we even shared an entire apartment when I was ten and he was around seven years old (that’s a long story). I remember one time when we had the same pajamas we would sneak to the fridge and steal chocolates, taking turns so that it wasn’t clear to my mother exactly which one of us she should be yelling at. I think for the most part, being young boys and growing up together, we did just fine getting along.

Gary is on the lower left and I'm examining a birthday card with my mother in the center of the photo. I would've been around four or five years old here, I think.

Gary is on the lower left and I’m examining a birthday card with my mother in the center of the photo. I would’ve been around four or five years old here, I think.

Gary and I goofing off when we were a little older, in our teens. Gary was trying to be like the character from The Mask with Jim Carrey.

Gary and I goofing off when we were a little older, in our teens. Gary was trying to be like the character from The Mask with Jim Carrey.

Gary was born with a few developmental problems which caused him to have to have speech therapy at a young age and gave him severe anxiety at certain times now that he’s older, even more so than me and most of my other siblings (save for Chad). However, Gary was never helpless. Despite his issues, he always found a way. He was constantly picked on, but never let that slow him down from making friends with people – unlike me, for example, who turned inward and became an introvert for a long while. Gary was always finding ways to make money and be industrious, despite not being able to work in a traditional 9-5 setting. He was always shoveling someone’s driveway or mowing lawns or helping old ladies with grocery bags. Due to some problems he was going through in his teens, Gary was booted from the house when he was sixteen and still managed to overcome even that, finding resources for shelter and income. If i’d been placed in similar circumstances, I probably might still be homeless even now.

But Gary is not homeless. He has an apartment (a much bigger one than I do), a girlfriend, and is in the lives of his nephews and nieces even more than I am, as the “big brother”. Whenever I walk around Lewiston with Gary, everyone seems to know who he is. Gary was dealt a raw hand, but has overcome many of his obstacles and is fighting through other ones. I am so proud of my brother Garrisen, of who he is and what he’s been fighting for. I love you, bro.

With that, here are a couple of photos of Gary – in the same vein as my Friend Files interviews, before I move on to my sister Monika.

My brother Gary on the left doing shots with me (I'm on the far right) a few years back at a house party.

My brother Gary on the left doing shots with me (I’m on the far right) a few years back at a house party.

Gary and me playing a fantasy board game. We played board games and video games together all the time.

Gary and me playing a fantasy board game. We played board games and video games together all the time when we were younger, and to a lesser extent now that we’re older.

Gary and I in one of our most recent photos together, here in Portland, Maine with me. I was glad to see him for the day.

Gary and I in one of our most recent photos together, here in Portland, Maine with me. I was glad to see him for the day.

MY SISTER MONIKA

My sister Monika. This photo was taken during one of my birthday parties where we all wore tee-shirts with sayings on them.

My sister Monika. This photo was taken during one of my birthday parties where we all wore tee-shirts with sayings on them.

Monika is the only sister I have (unless somewhere out there I have sisters that my biological father spawned in his new life without me). So, with her – it could have gone a lot differently than it did. I mean, I’m sure it was super-hard for her to grow up in a household full of disgusting boys/brothers but she had dolls and other terrible obsessions that we boys just couldn’t wrap our heads around. But my brother Gary and I pretty much tormented her when she arrived on the scene (seriously, you should hear the stories). She survived, and I know it was good for all of us boys to have my sister’s perspective on things as we grew older. I really think it helped round out all of us. When Monika was younger, she and I would conspire to steal cake frosting from the pantry we had downstairs at one place we lived (Stealing sweets was a theme I shared with most of my siblings). Later on, when I was a teenager, my mother would let her stay up later than my other siblings to help watch my youngest brother Alex, and she and I would watch movies, and Nick At Nite reruns of I Love Lucy, or Beavis & Butt-Head.

My sister on the left and me on the right at the Aquaboggan Water Park in Saco, Maine. My aunt took us there.

My sister on the left and me on the right at the Aquaboggan Water Park in Saco, Maine. My aunt took us there.

Me and my sister at Funtown in Saco, Maine - a few years later.

Me and my sister at Funtown in Saco, Maine – a few years later. Circa 1997.

Monika, I think, has always been the most responsible and the smartest of all of us. She became a mother at a young age, but that didn’t slow her down a bit. Now, she has three beautiful children (Kristen, Joey, and Sophia)- with Kristen being autistic – and Monika has not only kept her autistic daughter happy and healthy, she’s also kept her feeling normal and loved and has been the best parent I could’ve imagined her to be. She always puts her kids first, and I’m so proud of what she has come through to reach the point she’s at today. She has a decent job, a house, and a good relationship with a great guy she recently became engaged to. I am so happy for her little family. Despite the occasional relapse of not hanging out for a while due to our own lives getting in the way, my sister has been there consistently for not only me (during my separation and divorce) but also for my other siblings and family members. She truly is one of the lynch-pins of our family right now, constantly hosting holidays and other events at her home. I love you, sis!

With that, here are a couple relevant photos of my little sis:

Me with my mother and my sister back when I was awarded a Silver Key and two honorable mentions at the Scholastic Art Awards.

Me with my mother and my sister back when I was awarded a Silver Key and two honorable mentions at the Scholastic Art Awards.

My sister and her fiancee Tony on the left while me and my girlfriend Dorothy are on the right.

My sister and her fiancee Tony on the left while me and my girlfriend Dorothy are on the right.

Me holding my sister's first-born child, my niece Kristen.

Me holding my sister’s first-born child, my niece Kristen.

Me and my sister making goofy faces for the camera a few years back.

Me and my sister making goofy faces for the camera a few years back.

MY BROTHER CHAD

The most recent photo we have of our brother Chad.

The most recent photo we have of our brother Chad. He’s been missing for a few years now, pictured with his girlfriend – Amanda Micelle Heffner – who usurped his state assistance paperwork and took over his guardianship without any of us knowing until it was too late.

Chad, out of all us kids, had the most problems I think. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and other mental issues including the severe anxiety and depression that plagues my entire family. Out of all my siblings, he’s the one I tried to help the most while we were growing up. However, sometime back in 2008 Chad moved out of Maine with his then girlfriend, Amanda Michelle Heffner – and we haven’t seen him since. I wrote a post about him, which you can read HERE. If you happen to have any information on his whereabouts, last seen in North Carolina – please don’t hesitate to send along any information.

Chad, pictured with my sister back when he was seven years old.

Chad, pictured with my sister back when he was seven years old. 

Chad with our great grandmother. We called her "Nana".

Chad with our great grandmother. We called her “Nana”.

I used to try to involve Chad in games like Dungeons & Dragons. I introduced him to the Elder Scrolls games, and we used to pretend-fight with fake swords. Chad was a lover of all things fantasy, and even tried to create potions in his room. He was one of the nicest kids around, but when you made him angry it was hard to get him on your good side again for a long time. One of the last times I was alone with him and we hung out, we took a drive in my car and had a nice long talk. At the time, he was having girl troubles, and I really felt like he appreciated the time with me as much as I did with him. I miss Chad, and would give anything to just speak with him and ask him how he’s doing. He is one of our siblings that we all had a hand in letting down, and I hope that the rest of my siblings and I can rectify that someday. Hopefully you’re okay out there, brother. I love you!

Here are a few relevant photos of Chad:

Me on the far left, then my brother Chad, my brother Gary, and my sister Monika - taken at Chad's middle-school graduation.

Me on the far left, then my brother Chad, my brother Gary, and my sister Monika – taken at Chad’s middle-school graduation.

Me with Chad at his Middle School graduation.

Me with Chad at his Middle School graduation.

Monika, Gary, and Chad.

Monika, Gary, and Chad.

One of the last times I had a photo with Chad in person, back in 2008 at Fort Williams here in Maine.

One of the last times I had a photo with Chad in person, back in 2008 at Fort Williams here in Maine.

MY BROTHER RICHIE

My "stepbrother" Richie, whom I still consider just my brother.

My “stepbrother” Richie, whom I still consider just my brother.

Richie is very elusive, and has a set routine he likes to do every day. This is typically why I do not see him that often anymore. However, Richie has a lot of potential and is super-funny and smart and I wish we did hang out more often. When Richie showed up on the scene, I was kind of jealous of him a little bit. His father, Richard, had been the most stable father-figure in our lives at that point and I could tell how much Richard loved his son. It didn’t mean he didn’t love us, but there I was with a biological father who left me and then a stepfather after that who turned out to be kind of a jerk and left as well. It turns out that I was kind of a jerk around that time, too, and Richie has told me in the past that I was a jerk to him, especially. I’ve apologized for that since then, but it doesn’t mean I’m not sorry about it still.

From left to right: Gary, me, Monika, Chad, Richie.

From left to right: Gary, me, Monika, Chad, Richie.

My brother Alex on the left, Richie on the right.

My brother Alex on the left, Richie on the right.

Richie has had a lot of turmoil in his life as well, having been through a divorce with his parents and then a separation between my mom and his father. He spent a lot of time growing up in Florida, and according to him – went through a lot there as well. Richie and I share the same interest in video games and movies, and it’s always good to see him. Love you, bro!

And with that, here are a couple more relevant photos of Richie:

Richie on the right coloring eggs with his nephews and nieces. His father (my stepfather) is on the left.

Richie on the right coloring eggs with his nephews and nieces. His father (my stepfather) is on the left.

From left to right: Me, Chad, Richie, Monika.

From left to right: Me, Chad, Richie, Monika.

Richie on the left with his dad (and my stepdad) Richard.

Richie on the left with his dad (and my stepdad) Richard.

MY BROTHER ALEX

My brother Alex. He's always working, even in photos.

My brother Alex. He’s always working, even in photos.

Alex is the youngest of us, and in a way missed a lot of the craziness the rest of the siblings had to endure. However, enough craziness happened in his life that he knows what it tastes like. Alex was always fun to hang out with when he was little. We often played video games together, or watched movies, or I brought him places. Having a little brother when I was in high school and college was super-fun for me and I hope it was fun for him as well. Alex got into some trouble growing up, but he turned himself around and now that he’s older he constantly works and is even working at a store I used to work at when I was close to his age. It’s been fun seeing him grow into his own skin and become a responsible adult, and I look forward to seeing what else he does with himself as he moves forward in life.

My little brother Alex and me on Halloween years ago.

My little brother Alex and me on Halloween years ago.

Alex as a baby with our mother.

Alex as a baby with our mother.

Alex has a nice apartment now with a very cool girlfriend and has a son (meaning I’m the uncle of another nephew besides my sister’s son). He’s a great guy and a good dad, and I hope to see that grow even more as he ages. I’m proud of you, little brother. I love you!

With that, here are a couple of photos relevant to Alex:

Me and Alex playing beer pong.

Me and Alex playing beer pong.

Alex and his son Kaiden.

Alex and his son (and my nephew) Kaiden.

A photo of Alex I took in the summer when I brought him swimming at my college.

A photo of Alex I took in the summer when I brought him swimming at my college.

Me and my brother Alex in Bath, Maine.

Me and my brother Alex in Bath, Maine.

So – I know this was a long post, but I have a lot of siblings! On National Sibling Day I hope you do your own part to reflect on your own siblings and what they mean to you, and perhaps – if you don’t have any siblings yourself, maybe those friends or family of yours whom you see as siblings or interact with them as such.

I love my siblings. We’ve walked through the fire together. We’ve experienced joy, sadness, fear, excitement, loss, celebration and everything in between together. I am glad that I have these people as my siblings and I wouldn’t trade them for anyone else in the world. Thank you Gary, Monika, Richie, Chad, and Alex for making me a better person and for giving me such wonderful nieces, nephews, and memories. SO PROUD OF YOU ALL!

Most recent photo of most of my siblings together.

One of the most recent photos of most of my siblings together.

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Graduated from Saint Joseph's College Of Maine with a Bachelor's in Fine Arts - Creative Writing as well as Stonecoast, a low-residency MFA program through University of Southern Maine. Has several screenplays, a novel, graphic novel and a memoir all in development.

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