Change is the process of becoming different. And life has changed for the Brothers Bonifacio, incredibly so the past few years. Gone are the care-free and care-less days of a wonderful childhood that had the stability of great parents in love, the entertainment of being in between a sarcastic genius older brother and an insane yet prophetic younger one, the convenience of having your best friends around you and next door, and the simplicity of not wanting anything more than time to play GI Joes and LEGO.
But, as I said, things changed.
My parents are still very much in love, but the stability of my life and my brothers’ lives will depend more on our own actions and decisions now as we grow into independence.
This is most obvious to me when I go out to eat.
When I was younger, without looking at prices, I always managed to choose the most expensive thing available. I can’t explain how. It was pure talent. I would walk into a cloth shop, know nothing about cloth, choose a pattern I like, and lo and behold, the heaviest price tag. We would walk into art shops and my parents would marvel at how everything I liked was way way way beyond our budget – our budget for several years. And this talent was most often displayed in restaurants.
These days the figures to the right have more of a say on what I order, simply because this time I’m paying and can’t afford to ignore the math.
Fair Females and Un-Fair Expectations
Another sign of the changing times is how we’ve complicated our lives with females.
While my brothers never really sought membership in my “female-haters” club, they weren’t exactly the biggest fans of the gentler gender. But even at a young age my dad tried to teach us the importance of choosing the right partner:
Pop: Guys. We have something important to talk about. Someday, when you get married, half of everything you own will belong to your wife. Meaning, half your GI JOEs, half your LEGO, and half of all your toys.
And the answers were telling:
Joe: I’ll just make sure that I marry someone I really really love, that way I won’t mind sharing everything with her.
Joseph was ridiculously good sometimes. We were kids when he said this. Imagine. Josh and I had to grow up next to the crown prince of virtue. I didn’t even like the thought of females touching my GI JOEs. There was this one time when the daughter of a family friend came over to play. I gave her Jinx, the female ninja GI JOE to play with. (I didn’t like Jinx anyway.) Then, as can be expected when a female gets involved, things got complex:
Ina: David, before your GI JOEs fight, we have to get married.
Me: What??? Are you nuts??? GI JOEs don’t get married.
Ina: Of course they do. Everyone gets married.
Me: NO!!! You’re a weirdo!
Ina: If you won’t marry me then give me another GI JOE I can marry.
Me: No way!!! None of my guys want to marry you!
Ina: How am I supposed to get married when you won’t give me anyone to marry?
I wouldn’t budge. I was the leader of my JOEs and I wasn’t about to sacrifice any of them on the marriage alter. But neither would she. She HAD to get married. Finally, we settled on Jinx marrying a purple Koosh Ball. And it all worked out well in the end. They lived happily ever after playing in their corner, while I went on to save the world with Hawk and Flint. I’m pretty sure Jinx and the Koosh would have had ugly kids.
I loved my GI JOEs, and that’s why when answering my dad’s little talk on marriage I said, “Forget it. I’m not getting married.”
But the best answer came from Joshua, “You won’t? I’m going to marry a billionaire.” He always was a smart guy.
My brothers have since found best friends from the enemy camp. I’m sticking to my limited treaties.
Yesterday my dad asked me before church, “David, of all your girl-friends, which one do you think would make the best wife for you?” I told him it was something I didn’t really think about, and that when I did think about it, there wasn’t really a problem with the females, it’s really more me that has work to do. He replied, “I’m asking you a simple hypothetical question and you’re not answering it. So who?”
And this section stops here.
The Beautiful End
I can’t tell you when exactly things changed, when our childhood ended and my brothers and I were required to become men. Like everyone’s favorite, Mr. Darcy said, “I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew I had begun.” But I can tell you this:
God blesses us with beautiful surprises from the most normal and unexpected of places. And sometimes He does the opposite, taking away and bringing things to a close. But I’ve realized that the beginning and the end are two parts of the same blessing: one part to usher in the joy, and the other, to teach us to value what was.
I guess like the law of conservation of matter and of energy, things don’t really disappear, they just change to something else, dissipating to other things, hopefully better things. When you see endings this way, you realize that the end is never really game over, but the start of something new. Like the death of a seed is necessary for a plant to bloom, the end opens up new things, new opportunities, and new experiences.
And what turns every end, every close, every heartbreak, every loss, and every finish beautiful? The love, forgiveness, and redemption, and hope found in grace – God’s grace that turns any experience into a catapult to bring you to where He wants to take you.
And so this post, and the Bonifacio Brothers series, ends the only way it ever could – with a new beginning.