He was nervously standing before the mirror, tugging at his necktie. His hands, which could hoe a field, work magic on an unwilling motor, and smooth tears from a child’s eyes, were too clumsy and big for this task. I stood behind him and off to the side where he couldn’t see me in the mirror, and I enjoyed a quiet chuckle at his distress. It was so unusual to see him faced with a task that he couldn’t handle that I took in the alien sight for a few moments before moving to help him get it right. I made sure that the necktie was snug around his neck, and smoothed his collar down around it. I kissed his cheek when I was done, and I had to stand on tiptoe to reach. When I had first helped him with a necktie, he had been six, and about waist high, with bright blonde hair and a high, soft voice. Now, at seventeen, his 6’2″ frame made me feel small, no easy task as I was 5’10” and his voice was deeper than Dad’s had ever been. I saw in his eyes a glimpse of our grandfather, and the memory made me smile. My brother smiled shakily, his huge hands still nervously tugging at the necktie.
“Don’t worry, Bub,” I called him by his childhood nickname. “We’ll be fine.”
He rolled his eyes, attempting to appear unconcerned and annoyed by my reassuring words, but he pulled me into a hug just a moment later. I barely kept my tears behind my lids as I hugged him back. In a few minutes we would arrive at the funeral home, greet the family, and say our final goodbyes to our Pap. Even though my brother thinks he is a grown man now, and even though I have been a woman for too long, I grasp his hand tightly as we headed out the door. Nerves made our movements awkward, grief caused us to not notice. Bub straightened the necktie one last time before we exited the car, keeping this one thing under control, and then, leaving his nervousness in the car where it belonged, he raised his chin and led the way into the funeral pallor, looking, from behind, just like Pap.