Whenever I describe my brother Perry, I always say "he looks just like me only 6 inches taller and much more bald." We are very similar in many ways but not quite identical. Perry is six and a half years older than I am. When Mom was pregnant with me, Perry took my ultrasound picture to show and tell to show everyone his little sister. When we were little, everyone said we should have been closer together so we could have played together. We still managed to play just fine.

When I was six months old and Perry was seven, we went to have our pictures taken at Thalhimers. Perry was in charge of making sure I stayed sitting up and getting me to smile for the camera. He would perform all these antics and when I would grin back he'd burst out, "that's my girl!" I'm not sure the photographer knew what to think of us.

I've always said that I know I won't have my father forever, but when he's gone I will always have Perry. In many ways he is our dad on a 30 year delay. This can be charming and frustrating, but at least we know where it comes from.

I have many other people in my life who act like siblings to me. Mr. Smith is one of my oldest and dearest friends and I feel like our families are intertwined on many levels. It was amusing to me when my co-workers commented on my sister at our wedding (last I checked I didn't have a sister). My "sister" was Laura, who had just finished a reading during the ceremony and was walking over the straighten my wedding gown before photos. Ah, right. Maybe I have a sister after all.

But they are not the same as my brothers. We share a sub-culture. We're roadies from the same circus. We know each other's history. We are all actors in the same play, though with our broad age differences it may be that some of us had larger parts in different acts.

That relationship can be difficult to explain to others at times. I'm grateful that Rich is so close to his brother Lee so he understands the importance of it.

In the last month I've sewn curtains for my brother, helped him order his new cell phone and edited several emails intended for a lady friend. He's delivered Pyrex dishes and a million fleece blankets he found on clearance.

We're six and a half years apart but we still manage to play just fine.