It’s my big brother’s birthday today and, as you can tell from the card I unearthed from one of my mom’s quilt books, I’ve always looked up to him. (I loved those owl postcards; I remember my mom not wanting to dole them out just to get scribbled on, so clearly using one I wheedled from her to wish my brother “ha-ppy bthbay” was a big deal.)

I try to talk about my loved ones as whole people here in their birthday posts, and every person contains multitudes. Like my brother: Generous with neighbors but proud of his self-sufficiency. Deeply loving and protective but also teased me growing up (like any older sibling). Worried about the state of the world, worried about his family, but still delighting in nature, in human feats of engineering, in just being alive.

He’s a good man, a good dad, and a good family member and I’m proud to not only know him but be related to him. Ha-ppy bthbay, Alan!