More Than the Sum

I am thinking a lot about my brother lately. He is more than the sum of his parts, although the sum of his parts do yield a pretty impressive human. See thus:

1. He is an Eagle Scout. He started scouting as a kindergartener and he went the entire way. No small thing. Achieving the highest level of scouting takes a level of commitment that people don’t realize.

2. He is the healthiest person I know. He works out almost everyday and has been eating like Hostess has been out of business for years. No one ever told him to focus on his health, yet he did because he cares about the temple that is his body. I am amazed that we come from the same pool of DNA.

3. He is a walking encyclopedia. Fair warning: don’t ask him about World War II, weaponry, weight lifting, gardening, dogs, or the Minor Prophets unless you have several hours to kill.

4. He’s a big guy, and when he comes in to give you a bear hug, he may or may not give you a complimentary chiropractic adjustment too.

5. He has mastered the art of telling bad jokes. Guys, they are bad, but in the best possible way. If he woke up one morning and was able to tell jokes that didn’t make me groan, I would wonder what was wrong with the world.

6. His level of compassion is one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed, period. He listens when you need to vent and he doesn’t judge you in the least bit when you bare your teeth. He is nonconfrontational and loving. Even if he dishes out a platitude to make you feel better, you will think he thought of it himself. His love is unconditional like a parent’s.

Trevor is my big little brother. He will always be my little brother since he he was born after me, but since he’s got at least six inches and about 40 pounds on me, he is my big little brother. He is more than his Aspergers. He has never, ever let it get in the way of him being a person capable of living a full, productive life. He has never once gotten down on himself because of the limitations his diagnosis could have put on him. Although he’s let down when things don’t go his way or when he doesn’t get to do something he wants to do, he’s never blamed it on Asbergers because he’s never seen it as a disability (rightly so, too, since it’s more of a difference than a disability). In fact, he doesn’t give it much thought at all, which is admirable by itself.

A positive attitude isn’t everything, though. It makes for an inspirational blog post, but it doesn’t pay the bills. You can’t put a positive attitude on your resume underneath your educational background. A positive attitude doesn’t get your car fixed or replaced when it’s totaled. It doesn’t squelch your family’s worries about you. Right now, my brother has a host of life problems he’s facing. I call him every day just to check in on him and remind him that I love him even though I don’t live close by. He’s an easy person to encourage, as he listens and politely takes into consideration all the advice you want to give him. There are gaps in the conversation and I wonder if our call got dropped when he doesn’t respond to me right away, but he’s always there, taking it in and thinking about how to respond. I can hear the gears in his head creaking over the phone.

His problems won’t be solved within the span of our conversations. Things won’t get easier overnight. My mom and I will always worry about him. But just as sure as these things are true, his attitude and his pure goodness will remain constant. Even if you can’t itemize his wonderful attributes on a professional resume, Trevor is a triumph and I know things will always be OK with him – even when they’re not – because giving in to his differences isn’t even on the radar.

He is not Aspergers. He is my brother.

Unca Trevor and Baby C

This post was written in honor of Trevor and Bloggers for Movember, in an effort to raise awareness concerning men’s mental health and prostate cancer. “Like” us on Facebook and donate here.


  1. Such a sweet post. He sounds like an amazing individual. You are great sister for taking time out of your busy mommy schedule to call him daily.

    1. He indeed is a great person. I love putting C on the phone with him, although she usually tries to eat it.

  2. Your brother is awesome.

    It is interesting, what you said: “A positive attitude isn’t everything, though. It makes for an inspirational blog post, but it doesn’t pay the bills. You can’t put a positive attitude on your resume underneath your educational background.”

    A positive attitude isn’t everything, but it should have more value than it has now.

    I think more people should take an example of the characteristics you listed above. The characteristics of your awesome brother.

    That’s why I tweeted the hell out of this post!

    1. Tweeted it, liked it, pinned it, tumblr’d (?) it. F*ck yeah!

    2. Thanks, Daan. Yeah, it’s a little frustrating that those ephemeral qualities that I mentioned can’t be taken to the bank, given that they are so rare and account for so much in life. But they matter. Boy, do they ever matter.

  3. That was beautiful –
    Why can’t this be a world where being a good person is enough? Your brother sounds amazing. I hope his struggles ease – we have several friends with varying degrees of autism/Asbergers and they are some of the most endearing people we know. My thoughts to your family on this holiday week.

    1. Thanks, Denise. He is probably the purest, best person I know (hehe, aside from C!) Things will ease up on him. He’s pushing through, like he always does, and that determination will count for something.

      1. I have a quirky son – so I understand where you’re coming from!

  4. revitalization · · Reply

    amazing post, and beautiful photo

  5. Wow! Your bother sounds like the real deal, a genuine person, someone who speaks from the heart. People like Trevor are few and far between. I wish there were more like him. No wonder you think the world of him. :) This is such a nice tribute, Emily.
    Even Miss C looks entranced by him. How cute in her little lemon-drop romper. Love her!

    1. They are SO CUTE together! The first time Trevor met her, she was still really little so I reminded him to wash his hands before he held her. From there on out, he ALWAYS reminded everyone to wash their hands before they held her. It was so nice to have someone around who was as neurotic about her as we are! ;D

  6. Emily,
    Thank you for this wonderful post. Trevor sounds like an amazing person.

    1. My pleasure, Cathy! I am really blessed to be able to call him my brother.

  7. unfetteredbs · · Reply

    wonderful tribute to your brothers Emily.

  8. This was a beautiful tribute.

    1. Thanks! He’s a beautiful guy.

  9. That picture is almost better than the post…but only almost.

    1. They’re pretty evenly matched.

  10. Emily,
    What a great post! Such nice things to say about your brother! I am sharing this one on our Facebook page, my magnificent™ friend!
    Le Clown

    1. I got the trademark! I got the trademark!

  11. What a fantastic Movember post. Loved it. Your brother sounds like a great guy, and I know I like him already, because he appears to possess one of my favorite traits: efficiency. Now, if I could just get my kids to do that… (I’m kidding; my kids are great. In fact, my oldest is also close to being an Eagle Scout.)

    1. He is only moderately efficient, but he definitely isn’t a flake. His word is golden, Congrats to your son! Being an Eagle Scout is such a huge accomplishment.

      1. Let’s just hope my son doesn’t peter out before that eagle scout project…

  12. I loved this! I loved how there was no pity, no if only’s, just a sister loving her brother.

    1. Thank you so much for recognizing that! He doesn’t want pity. He wouldn’t change anything about his life, and I wouldn’t either.

  13. Aww this was beautifully written Emily. So heartfelt and sweet. I could feel the bond between you two.I like how you said you will always worry about him, but you also don’t have to worry because he’s such a solid, good person. Very kind.

    1. Thanks, Lil! I’m very lucky to have a brother who I can worry and not worry about at the same time ;)

  14. runningonsober · · Reply

    Beautiful tribute Emily!

  15. Emily, you know I love you for writing this, and please don’t take this the wrong way, but you misspelled Aspergers. And if your brother is anything like my son, he’d want you to fix this.

    And that processing gap… It can be so incredibly frustrating.

    1. Not taken the wrong way AT ALL ;D I always always always manage to misspell the most embarrassing things. Thank you so much for giving me the heads up! Fixed.

  16. Beautiful words for a beautiful guy.

    1. True.Dat. ;D Thanks!

    1. Thanks! I enjoyed writing it!

  17. This is so beautiful. I love Trevor too, and I’m so sorry for the things he’s facing. He is lucky to have a sister like you, though. That is for sure. Love you!

    1. We both have some awesome brothers, no?

  18. So great, Emily. I would agree that Aspergers is more of a difference than a disability. You and your brother are lucky to have each other.

    1. We really are, Weebs. He’s also really lucky to have had my parents. They were extremely nurturing of him and always put him in situations where he could flourish. My mom is a major part of his life and helps him through each major step he takes.

  19. absolutely great post. two of my favorite authors – augusten burroughs and dave sedaris have written essays about family members with aspergers. i find them fascinating. i’m also somewhat convinced my dad has this. but, i find there’s a REALLY brilliant side to those with aspergers. do you find that? and then it’s the old, if you cured the one, would you have the other? great piece. xoxo, sm

    1. That is absolutely true that they have a brilliant side. I wouldn’t say that my brother has any Rainman-esque savant characteristics, but the way he views the world is extremely out-of-the-box. He reacts to situations in creative, original ways. He is easily the most self-reliant person I know.

  20. I can’t be getting all emotional today — I’m wearing mascara! I’m holding back tears. This is beautiful.

    1. Awww, thanks, Sandee! I’ll buy you some waterproof mascara.

  21. He sounds like a great guy.
    Thank you for introducing us!

    1. It’s my pleasure! The world needs to know that people like him are not broken.

  22. I love this post. He sounds like a great guy, and you’re a great little big sister haha

    1. Thanks! I love any opportunity to point out that I am comparatively not huge ;D

  23. He sounds amazing, and clearly adores Miss C! I always wished I had a brother…

    1. Brothers are great, but I always wanted a sister too.

  24. The picture is beautiful!

    1. Thank you! My friend Melissa who does professional baby photography took it.

      1. It’s really captured a lovely moment :-)

  25. This is so touching. The love you feel for your brither is so humbling. I hope he is well , and i pray for his health and well-being. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Ren! I appreciate it and thanks for commenting.

  26. I have a little big brother too!
    Sounds like C and you are lucky to have him.

    1. We really, really are. He’s a great uncle.

  27. Teresa Pate · · Reply

    You are the best sister any guy could have.
    The mom is on the way to “surrendering” to reality. Dad and I did all we knew to do to assist T. in life. However, the mom is beginning to realize that T. has a huge disability and outside assistance is required. Just not able to figure out and be there constantly. Very weary.
    Also, you spelled it like it sounds. :)
    Much love,

    1. You have always done your very, very best for him, giving him exactly what he needed to flourish. It’s OK to ask for help. I will be there every step of the way. I love you.

  28. “He is not Asperger’s, he is my brother,” is quite possibly the most beautiful sentence ever written. This is a super inspirational post and Trevor is lucky to have you in his life.

    1. Thanks! We are all very lucky to have each other. Our family is perfectly imperfect.

  29. Teresa Pate · · Reply

    He also wrote an essay and won the Rotary Club Character Achievement Award for overcoming hardships. Dad would have been so proud of him for that.
    Wish T’s handicap had been more obvious to the eye. He has an invisible disability. T. is observed as ‘different’ only when he opens his mouth. Down’s families have done a better job of educating the public about that disability.

    1. Agreed, completely. Although we still have a long way to go in making our society more understanding of people like Trevor, I really believe that it’s getting better. These are extremely special individuals who have a tremendous amount to contribute.

  30. What sweet and loving words. There is so much truth in your comment about the kindness and simple goodness of a person that can not be evaluated by a resume or crunched into a test score. It is those honest human attributes that go a very long way in defining what a good person is. Your brother sounds like one of the good guys out there.

    1. He is indeed one of the most sincere, purist people you’ll ever meet. That certainly counts for something. Even though you can’t quantify sincerity and devotion, it really is what matters in the end. Thanks, Shoes!

  31. I totally get what you mean about the gaps in a phone conversation and hearing the gears working. This characterizes our Uncle Mike very well. He has a degree in geography (he meandered through university for 9 years and never felt self-conscious about it but will be paying off his student loan forever). He is full of arcane knowledge, very well read, dialed into music like nobody else I know–and not boastful about any of these things. Totally low-key, and sometimes we feel we have to do all the work making conversation, but then he says something that makes the conversation so rewarding. Also very generous, but at the same time a little oblivious of things like other people’s schedules, etc.
    Uncle Mike is having a lot of life problems now too. He’s 42 and hasn’t ever found a “career” job; he works for just over minimum wage at a parking lot, and he shares a house with a bunch of students. He’s been ripped off countless times by predatory landlords and roomies, not to mention “friends” who ask him for loans and then never repay him. It’s so hard to know how to protect him or help him get ahead, especially being so caught up in crazy times and financial hardship ourselves.
    Very thought-provoking post.

    1. Trevor has had similar difficulties. People sometimes take advantage of his willingness to help them when they want something. He would literally give you the shirt off his back if you asked for it, and unfortunately people have tried to take more than that. My mom helps protect him from that kind of stuff though. She has been his primary advocate over the years. Good thing, too, because without her I can’t imagine what kind of life he’d be living now.

      1. It’s a neverending source of stress, that side of it. It’s hard because in many ways Mike is more restrained and mature about money, for instance, than we are. He’s mild-mannered, he doesn’t drink, he reads…but it’s so hard knowing that other people will take advantage of him despite whatever caution he tries to exercise.

  32. We all have our idiosyncrasies. I don’t think “normal” exists. Loved this post.

    1. If normal does exist, I want no part of it. Life is so much more colorful when it’s not delineated by a cookie cutter.

  33. Yours is a beautiful soul, Emily. Thank you for being an amazing person.

  34. It sounds like you have a lovely relationship with your brother and I’m jealous. And I really appreciate your take on Asbergers. Thanks for sharing it, doll.

    1. My pleasure. I didn’t understand the ins and outs of Aspergers while I was growing up. Trevor always just was the way he was, and he often made me so frustrated because of his differences. I’m so glad I finally grew up and realized that he was perfect exactly the way he is.

  35. I think you left something out in your beautiful post about your brother – the way he has stepped up to try to fill your Dad’s spot as a loving protector and caretaker, loving you and yours, and your Mom, taking care of the yard, etc. I know there are more examples. Your post just goes to add more proof to the fact that the most important thing in life is how you treat the people around you. Compassion and connection make us human. And what a human Trevor is!

    1. That is so, so true. He was our glue when things were bad. His big ol’ arms were always inviting and he always listened patiently when we were sad.

  36. Wow– you are a very good writer. I always think about how important it is to have a positive attitude.

    1. Thanks! A positive attitude is one of the most powerful things we can have when things get hard.

  37. This is a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing with us.
    And um, where did you get truffle butter?

    1. Lazy Laura Maisey!!! She is THE BEST.

      1. You did!!!???
        I should have known she had something to do with it!
        Yes. She is the best.
        What are you going to do with it?

  38. Would it make him happy to know you wrote a blog post about him? You should let him know if it would!

    I think the best thing you mentioned about your brother was he doesn’t let Aspergers get him down. Far too many people will use whatever they can as an excuse.

    Have you written about your mom yet? I remember a post about your dad. Does your family read your blog? Now you have to reply to this comment (not that you don’t always) because I asked questions about you.

    1. I’ve told him about my blog before. He doesn’t much care about it, although he does know that I wrote this post about him and he was flattered. He is constantly talking to me about guns and ammo and how when C gets big enough he is going to show her how to shoot. And I’m like NOOOOOOOOOO! Whenever he gets going on that stuff, I threaten to talk his ear off about blogging and he usually changes the subject.

      I have not yet written about my mom because she actually reads my blog! It’s a lot scarier writing about someone when you know they are actually going to read it. I’ve got a post in the works about her though and I’ll put it up when I think it’s perfect.

  39. Reblogged this on The Waiting and commented:

    In honor of Sibling Day, here’s a post I wrote awhile back about my amazing brother Trevor. I am so blessed to have him in my life.

  40. Anddddd I’m crying. Beautiful! Beautiful!

  41. You really are lucky to have a brother like that. Rejoice.

  42. You and your brother are amazing. Such a sweet, inspirational post. It takes an amazing person to appreciate another person. Yes, what you mentioned doesn’t pay the bills but those things you mentioned, I realized in the past year when I had difficulties that those are what life is really all about. Really.

  43. Your brother is an inspiration and you are really doing a good thing staying with him during his time of need.

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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