Walt Whitehouse and his wife, Barbara.

My oldest brother Walter turned 60 on June 8th. It is odd, really, because I never think of him as old. He’ll remain forever a college student in my mind, that golden age when we were listening to Simon and Garfunkle, The Beatles; the kind of music I can still listen to today and love. Walter is a musician and a damned good one. But he’s a better brother.

He taught me to play chess, bridge and numerous other card games. He coached me on how to lay down a bunt during a back yard baseball game in the summer with our other brothers. I was hideous at it, but he didn’t seem to mind. He included me in the impromptu winter hockey games, skating on an ice rink our father had made by flooding the same back yard.

In our twenties we shared a few different apartments together because neither of us had much money. I had some rough times and he never criticized or judged me. We both pursued advanced degrees (his much more advanced…that’s Dr. Whitehouse, to you). We each married a bit later than most: I in my late 30’s, he in his early 40’s.

But none of this much captures what I’m trying to impart: the intangible sense that I mattered to him. Important to me then, although I didn’t know it; more important to me now, because I do.