This strapping "young" man is my younger brother, Paul Andrew Upshaw, Sr. He is the father of my two youngest nephews, Paul Jr. (Paulie) and James Anthony (Bubba). And today, Paul turns 53 years old. (Calling him "53 years young" would be a cliche and an outright lie.)
Paul has had his share of triumphs and trials over the years, as have we all. He's lost jobs, he got divorced, has had many girlfriends and two failed engagements. But he is now blessed with two fine grown sons, has remarried (I love my new sister-in-law Maria), is living in Chicago, has a six-figure income job, and still finds time to act in community theater, be an extra on NBC's "Chicago" dramas, and work for the Chicago Bears during their home games at Soldier Field.
He, being the only son (my brother Phillip passed away years ago), he also takes care of Mom and Dad's finances and repairs things around the house whenever he can. Paul was the one who insisted I move back with our parents to help out, and that caused a bit of a riff between us, which I confess I still feel sometimes.
When Mom was at her worst, taking care of her was such a burden for me because I had to interrupt working and growing my freelance art career, and that made me resentful toward Paul, who had burdens of his own but at least he could go to work and make money. I had to keep working to make money, and that was slowed down. Things are easier now that Mom is now in her right mind and has a caregiver Monday through Friday, but I sometimes feel the envy rise up in me, especially since Paul asked Mom and Dad to throw him a birthday party tomorrow.
So how do I handle this envy? Well, today I baked brownies, peanut butter cookies and pumpkin muffins for his party tomorrow, and I'm going to make pies later tonight. I'm learning to lean on the positive; I'm happy for Paul, despite my negative feelings sometimes. And I'm learning to use that energy to go after my own success. Notice how I said "my own success"--I'm not that interested in making six figures nor living in a big city. That's Paul's success, that's the world's success. I have my own ideas about success: doing the creative work I love as a freelancer. And even the not-so-creative parts, like promoting myself and doing the books.
I leave you now with a picture of Paul on the happiest day of his life: his wedding to Maria.