Oliver: Here’s to the Blackhawks and brotherly love

Families are funny things. No two are alike.

Throw in the extended family, and characterizations are even harder to make.

One thing is certain, though: Some families are close, while others are not.

My own is not, though it’s not for any lack of genuine affection. It’s more a case of benign neglect.

My four siblings and I are busy people with busy lives. Months can pass before there’s contact.

Never is this more true than with my older brothers and me. They both are more than a decade older than I, and we all live in different states. They were grown and out of the house before I even started kindergarten.

And, let’s face it, we also don’t have all that much in common.

So it was a bit surprising last year when I started to get text messages from my brother Craig.

He hit upon a subject dear to my heart: the Chicago Blackhawks.

The messages began during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when the Hawks were playing in the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Kings.

This makes sense, since Chicago games are easier to find then, especially for casual hockey fans who live in Texas, as Craig does.

He’d text early in the game to make sure I was watching. Then we’d exchange comments as the games progressed, mostly after something good (a goal by the Hawks) or bad (a bad penalty or being scored upon) happened.

As the games went on, I realized just how precious this was: I was bonding with my big brother.

Granted, Craig isn’t the hockey nerd that I am. He can’t tell you the names of all the players on the Blackhawks and most of the players on any opposing team.

But he was there, watching with me.

When the Stanley Cup Final series against the Boston Bruins went to Game 6, he knew just how nervous I was. It had been a grueling series, with both teams playing hurt. And there had been three overtime games already.

Then came that improbable pair of goals in the third period, 17 seconds apart.

My phone rang with about a minute left in regulation. There was Craig, wanting to share the clinching moment of the series.


Of course, I had to hang up the phone before I could scream my head off and dance around my living room like an idiot. Some things you just don’t want to share, even with family.

To show my appreciation for the gift he had given his little sister, I sent him a championship T-shirt, complete with the Blackhawks’ playoff roster. I’m sure there aren’t that many of those in Texas.

This year, my oldest brother, Gary, has gotten in on the action.

And it’s been even better.

As it turns out, Gary is as much of a hockey nerd as I am. He’s fluent in all things Bears, too. So here’s to a long and successful playoff run for the Blackhawks.

I want to hang out with my big brothers for as long as possible.

• Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at

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