Every Saturday, he woke up before dawn and put on his black, felt cowboy hat, boots with spurs, red Western shirt, cowboy belt, and matching black vest. After he was dressed, he tiptoed in to the living room, careful not to wake anyone, and pressed play on the VCR.
It wasn't long before I left dreamland and awoke to the unpleasantries of cowboy shootouts and his voice shouting along with Rooster Cogburn:
Young fella, if you're looking for trouble, I'll accommodate you. Otherwise, leave it alone.
True Grit was his favorite movie. It was my least favorite movie. He was about four years old then, and I was supposed to sleep until 11 a.m. as every nine-year-old big sister should. Little did I know that almost 24 years later, True Grit would become a movie that I would grow to love and respect.
In the movies, I feel there is usually one line that pegs the movie's entire meaning. In True Grit, that line for me was when Mattie Ross said:
They say he has grit. I wanted a man with grit.
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Grit is not just a breakfast food from the South (though it is a very tasty breakfast food from the South). Grit has a psychological meaning. Grit is based on an individual's passion for long-term goals and is associated with concepts such as perserverance, hardiness, resilience and ambition.
Throughout the years, my brother's passions have changed from cowboys to cops and robbers to skateboarding to hunting to fishing to civil war re-enacting to golfing to surfing. We were never quite sure what his passion would be from week to week, but the one thing that remained consistent throughout each passion was his perserverance and ability to embrace each passion with all of his heart. He never approached anything lightly.
My brother, Robert, has always had true grit.
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In the past couple of years, my brother has developed a new passion. That passion is Cori. Cori is the type of person you meet who you like right away. She's incredibly sweet, smart, charming and genuine.
Last weekend, during a game, she was asked, "If Rob could live anywhere in the world, where would he live?" She responded, "St Augustine," which is where they met and live now. She was then asked other questions like "Boxers or Briefs?" or "If Robert was a superhero, which one would he be?"
Of course she was excited when she got the answers right, but it seemed that if she didn't know the right answer to a question, she was even more excited when she learned the answer than when she got the answers right. For me, that was the moment in their movie that pegged the depth and meaning of their love, which is that Cori loves him unconditionally and without hesitation and wants to know all there is to know about him.
Up to that point, I didn't know it was possible to like Cori more than I did already. But, at that very moment, I liked and respected her so much more and saw exactly why my brother approached his passion for her with all of his heart. You see: Cori is the first woman in his life besides our mom and me who I've felt recognizes his true grit.
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Next Saturday, I get to stand on a beach in St Augustine and support my brother and Cori as they commit to a future together. I couldn't be prouder.
I'm so proud of the man he's become in his 29 years, but quite honestly, I'm prouder that he picked such a wonderful woman -- a woman who recognizes his true grit -- to share his life with.