Brotherly Love

Garris spent last week in Dillon with Cyris and Regan. Cy called a few weeks ago and asked if Garris could spend some time with them. He wanted to show Garris some of the things he’s learned and experienced while living over there: doctoring cows in the Big Hole, riding colts, floating the river. Basically, he wanted to give Garris a few days of what life might be like in a few years for him.

So, we made arrangements. Cy and Regan picked up Garris on their way home from Manhattan. Garris checked in with me every couple of days. I cut him some slack. He’s normally supposed to call me every night, but a few nights were late ones, without cell service. When he did call, he sounded happy and excited.

He did some different kinds of riding than he normally does. He rides horses almost every day, but mostly in an arena, keeping his horses in shape for either roping events or reined cow horse. The riding he did with Cy had a different purpose. They rode their horses to get someplace. Or to train young ones.

Of course, they did some roping too. In fact, the first day Garris was over there, the two of them went to a local jackpot. Garris ended up winning his #5 roping and had the fast time of the day. He bought dinner that night!

As a mom, I was so happy that Cy extended the invitation. There is such a big age difference between Garris and his brothers (6 and 8 years), that for most of his childhood, he was just the annoying little brother. He tried to tag along with his brothers, and they tried to get away from him. His brothers had other friends and were able to do things he couldn’t, and that frustrated Garris. I always thought we should have had one more child, so that Garris had a sibling close in age to him. I think that he would have been a more content child. But I couldn’t talk my ex into my logic.

Now that Garris had turned 16, he’s definitely entering the ‘young man’ phase of his life. Cyris is 22. They have more in common now than they did when Cy was living at home. Both of them enjoy horses, roping, and hunting. They have similar goals in life. Similar senses of humor. And similar social skills.

It doesn’t hurt that Garris looks up to Cy. He minds his brother better than he does me.

When I drove over on Sunday to pick Garris up, Cy told me it had been a good week. He said that Garris had been quiet, almost silent for a lot of the week. I couldn’t tell if he was joking or serious. Normally, Garris can’t be quiet to save his soul. But Cy said he was a big help to him riding horses. And doctoring cows. Regan told me it was nice to have someone around who pitched in on chores. Without asking. If only I could get him to do that at home!

By the end of the week, Cyris told Garris that if he decided to go to Dillon for college, he’d be welcome to live with them. He’d have a place for his horses and a safe place to live. That makes a mom’s heart burst.

Just yesterday, Garris told me that he and Cy had a lot of talks while he was over there. Just hanging out kind of talks. About college. About rodeo. About life in general. And I’m sure they talked about things that neither one of them is going to tell his mother. That’s okay. I’m happy just knowing that as brothers, they are both maturing to a level that they like being around each other. Cy actually wanted Garris to stay longer, but it just didn’t work right now for that to happen.

Garris starts high school rodeos next weekend, so his practicing has to step up a bit this week. Plus, I’ve only got him another full week before school starts. My list of summer to-do’s barely has a dent in it. Maybe next summer he can spend a little more time with his brother, depending on what he’s got going on in terms of a job.

Yesterday, I had to go to Bozeman for a doctor’s appointment. I asked Sylvis ahead of time if he’d like to take Garris out to lunch. My treat. He said sure, so we found his new apartment, I left them with some money, and crossed my fingers they wouldn’t kill each other.

Sylvis hasn’t had the greatest amount of patience with either of his brothers, but especially with Garris. Part of that is the age difference. Eight years is a lot of time to forge a sibling bond. Part of that is their personalities. Sylvis is a perfectionist. Always has been. He wants things his way and gets very upset if other people do things differently or skirt the rules. Garris is more laid back. He gets by with what he has to do and tries to avoid perfection in most things. Neither way is better than the other, but it’s tough to find middle ground.

For a lot of years, Sylvis was very tough on his brother. When he helped Garris practice his roping, Sylvis was militant about form and style. When he had an opportunity, Sylvis would take cheap shots at Garris about anything and everything: clothes, jokes, weight. It got to a point where Garris really didn’t want to be around Sylvis because of the way he treated him.

Yesterday, however, was a different situation. I was gone for about two hours. And when I picked Garris up, both brothers were kidding around. They were smiling and laughing. Garris told me on the way home that he had fun. They had gone to a Japanese restaurant that Sylvis likes. Then they drove around Bozeman, with Sylvis showing Garris some places he likes to go. And Garris said that Sylvis was trying to just be a brother.

So, this mom is feeling very good about where each of her boys are, and how they are interacting with each other. They may never be best friends. I know they won’t always see eye-to-eye or get along. But at least they are each trying to move past child hood pettiness and jealousies. Because Garris has grown up and matured over this past year, each of his brothers is starting to see him as a person and not a pest.

That can only bring good things for these three brothers.



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