I’ve always been drawn to unexpected things. And moments.

Unexpected things like miniature or giant versions of common, everyday items, still perfectly proportioned in their exaggerated sizes.

My sterling silver miniature abacus charm with moving parts, as big as my thumbnail. The gigantic bright green deck chair at a garden in New Jersey that can easily fit a family of six in one seat, making us mini ourselves.

Unexpected moments like when I walked in on a mother and daughter bickering at the acupuncturist’s waiting area about two decades ago. What’s so unexpected about that?

The mom was well into her 80s and the daughter in her 60s. Unexpected because I often think that certain moments are reserved for certain life stages and ages. Aren’t you then forced to graduate and evolve, having to behave the way grown or elderly folks OUGHT to behave?

I was fascinated.  So much so that I can still conjure up a cloudy visual of the daughter getting visibly upset at her octagenarian mama. It also taught me that people are people, no matter what the age. You don’t stop fighting with your parents just because you became a grandmother yourself.

Recently, at my friends’ gorgeous doljanchi (Korean first birthday bash) for their one year-old daughter, I collected another such moment. Even more than the decadent pink and gold decorations, including a candy bar holding perfectly pink rock candy and gold chocolate coins in exquisite apothecary jars, this moment replayed on my mental movie reel.


My friend was holding his beautiful one-year old daughter, the star of the show. He was catching up with a few friends he hadn’t seen in a while, after moving to another state. While he was holding baby girl and chatting, laughing, his eldest brother suddenly swooped down on him with a bright smile and eyes so lively.

He fired off, “Hey, you’ve GOT to try this!” as he deposited a piece of gold-dusted peanut butter and jelly macaron into his “baby” brother’s mouth. Baby brother is now a 30-somethang doctor. Eldest brother, a pharmacist and dad to three. Baby bro opened his mouth wide, completely trusting his Hyung.

Our family drove home in the hail. In just one Saturday afternoon, NYC had provided snow, rain and hail as dramatic backdrop for the party.

As my firstborn played quietly by my feet and the other two boys napped in each others’ arms in our King bed, I kept replaying the brotherly moment in my head, smiling as if I held a juicy secret.

Why was I still savoring this seemingly ordinary moment?

When Eldest Bro swooped down eagerly to feed Baby Bro that delicious morsel, he was no longer this grown man with a receding hairline and fatherly responsibilities. And Baby Bro was no longer this physician, husband, father.

In that moment, they transported me to when my Micah was nearly three and Ellis nearly one. Ellis had just discovered Goldfish and Cheerios and other crunchy REAL snacks and Big Bro was more than delighted and eager to feed his baby bro. It was a whole new world as Baby had never been able to eat those foods before.

I would catch Baby sitting around in his turquoise Bumbo seat, mouth wide open, gurgling, accepting anything his big bro threw into his mouth. Brother could have thrown Legos into his mouth and he would have gladly accepted.

Upon further savoring of my friend’s brotherly exchange, I recalled another moment between my own brother and me when we were in the second and fifth grades. Our school bus transporting us to our gifted magnet school in an affluent area away from our home in Koreatown, Los Angeles was more than two hours late!

We didn’t know what to do. The adults at the bus stop were conferring. My brother was confused and scared. And hungry. I told him to go ahead and eat his packed lunch. He was still hungry.

So I fed him my own lunch. I watched him eat it while my stomach growled. But I felt so fulfilled as if I were eating the sandwich, too. I thought to myself, “This must be what it feels like to be a Mommy.”

I love these seemingly ordinary but magical moments that transport me back in time. So rich and unexpected.

Definitely experienced another Whoosh!

still feeding baby bird, er, bro at ages four and two

still feeding baby bird, er, bro at ages four and two

1 thought on “Brotherly

  1. Awwww! This was the moment you were talking about! How sweet! I know what you mean about these kind of moments. To this day, every time I have a nightmare I think of how I used to run to my sister’s room when I was about 10 have watched the Exorcist (secretly w friends) then watching a 20/20 special on exorcisms, confirming in my mind their reality. I had nightmares every few days for months and would run to my sister’s room at night and half asleep she would say “it’s ok, it was only a bad dream” and then hold me and let me sleep with her in bed. Sniff, sniff, thinking of that makes me tear up! Thanks for sharing! Btw, I also have a fascination w miniature things 😉

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