It’s “National Brandied Fruit Day”

Why? Nobody knows. It’s posted as a National holiday but there’s little information available and no official proclamation making it a “National” day of celebration. If you like Brandied fruit then today is your day! Have some for breakfast!

The only brandy I’m a fan of was the boy named Brandon, aka Brandy, who lived across the street from me during my formative years. Brandy’s sister, Heather, was one of my dear friends growing up. I spent a lot of time across the street at their house, doing manicures with Heather’s mom, disco dancing in their living room, and sleeping over more nights than I could count. It was great fun.

Brandy, who had Down’s Syndrome, was a couple of years older than me. He was simply adorable. Brandy was a pinball wizard (complete with his very own pinball machine, another reason I LOVED to hang out at their house), an Olympic athlete with many medals in his collection, and a master of swear words. In fact, one hot summer afternoon, Brandy and I sat on the cinder blocks behind my house, kicking our legs against the blocks and whispering swears back and forth to each other, giggling away at our “being bad”. And I quickly became an overachiever in mastering the art of swearing, even to the point of earning a detention in school for my skills.

But back to Brandy. He was a great kid. He was funny. He was particular (one week he liked only the pizza topping and the next he liked only the crust). He was sweet. He was a very protective older brother to Heather. And when I had just entered my preteen years, he died. I’d lost a friend the summer between fifth and sixth grade so Brandy’s death wasn’t my very first experience in losing a friend, but it was certainly the most traumatic. I’d known Brandy for as long as I could remember. I watched him get on his school bus each morning. I’d played pinball with him countless times. He taught me all my swear words! The day I learned of his passing I said the Queen Mother of swears, just for him. I could imagine his sweet smile and crinkled up nose as he snickered at my “badness”. That one was for you, good buddy.

Oh, how far my life has come since losing my neighbor. His sweet life helped shape who I’ve become. He taught me that I ultimately wanted to help people less fortunate than I am. Little did I know that it’s pretty darn difficult to be in a more trying situation than I’m finding myself these days, what with my son’s illness, my daughter’s self-esteem issues, having an estranged spouse, being financially strapped with the inability to get a traditional job thanks to a) my many years out of the job market and b) my erratic schedule. I’m having a hard time being able to help myself.

I’m trying so hard to count my blessings. I’ve got great kids. I have lots of friends who love me and would do anything for me. I’m a good person with a great sense of humor. I’ve got good stuff going on in my life but it’s been increasingly difficult to not let the crazy stuff get the better of me.

What would Brandy advise me to do? I think we can all guess. And be sure that as I’m flying over the country today, I’ll be swearing up a blue streak from New York City to Denver (to myself, of course). All the while, I’ll be thinking of Brandy’s sweet smile and crinkled up nose as we kick our feet against the cinder blocks and laugh at how bad we are.

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