Rob was 12 when I came along and for years he was very much the older brother to me. He is still, of course, but now I feel much more a brother rather than a younger brother.
By the time I was 5, Rob was 17, and so my earliest memories were of Rob studying earnestly at the diningroom table which I would hang around for some attention. At times he would play a marching song on the piano, and I would march round & round the table, loving the time spent with him.
All too soon he was gone; living at Ormond College at Melbourne Uni, and time spent together became rare. A really vivid memory I recall was one Guy Fawkes Night, looking into the backyard through the sunroom windows where Rob was setting off Catherine wheels for me.
At school, each morning at assembly I saw Rob's name on the wooden board above the lectern. It said Dux (æq.), Junior School. I was really proud, but as my years at Junior School passed, I began to feel the weight of expectation to match Rob's achievement. Many years later, I talked to Dad about this, and realised the pressure was what I put on myself.
Rob finished his Master's in Civil Engineering at Melbourne, then went to M.I.T., Cambridge, and finally Stanford. During this time he would send audio cassettes to Mum & Dad. I would eagerly await those.
In 1975, after I finished HSC, Mum, Dad, and I went to Palo Alto and spent a month with Rob. I hadn't seen him probably for 5 years. It was a great trip & I remember him trying to let Dad especially know that I had grown up. As we travelled the US south-west for 2 weeks by car, Dad would keep exclaiming, "Look, Andy!" when an interesting landmark passed by. Rob began responding to this by reminding Dad I wasn't a kid anymore. [By being first to say, "Look, Andy!", and making a joke out of it. -- REM]
Over the years, we have seen each other 2, 3 times each year, but I have always felt, variously, protected, encouraged, sometimes admonished, but understood and loved by Rob.
When our dad died suddenly in 1981, Rob was en route back to Australia, & so arrived in time for Dad's funeral. It's hard to imagine a more profoundly authentic sharing of emotion as when Rob & I viewed Dad's body before the funeral. No words were spoken but we looked at each other, hugged & cried.
In the years since, I feel our relationship has become more like a close friendship, balanced by the give & take of mutual support & advice, and although I will always be the younger brother, I wouldn't change anything except the chance to spend more time together.
I'd like to propose a toast to Rob, my big brother and friend.