Dear Brother

Jacob Tucker Brother


Jacob Tucker’s brother just turned 24. And it’s time Jacob told him what he really thinks about him.

Dear Brother,

It just hit me that you’ll be 24 years old soon. 24! That’s a man, bro! Can you believe it? I’ve been thinking about our relationship these past 24 years and all the good times we’ve had. Like when we shared a room and stayed up late at night playing games we made up. Remember teacher and student? Rhyme time? The sock game?? Remember the camaraderie we built by picking on our little brother? It’s a wonder he still likes us.

I’ve also remembered some of the many things I’m sorry for.

I’m sorry that I blamed you when I highlighted everything on a bunch of mom and dad’s checks. I’m sorry about that time I was throwing you the baseball and I got frustrated that you couldn’t hit it. I’m sorry that when we were going to school and you wanted to hold my hand that I pushed it away for fear that my friends would see. I’m sorry for that one time that someone was making fun of you outside The Donut Palace and instead of being mad at him, for the moment, I just wanted you to stop being you.

I knew you were different, I just didn’t know how to handle it. It hurts me to admit that for a time in my late childhood I wished I could change you.

Thankfully, you changed me.

I remember in high school someone asked me, “Isn’t there something wrong with your brother?”

Finally I said, “No. He has autism, but there’s nothing wrong with him.”

I remember a poignant moment in the kitchen when mom and I were talking about a child who had a severe handicap and you asked, “Mom, am I severe?”

With a tear in her eye she said, “No, you’re perfect.”

As I got older I realized a deal breaker for any girlfriend I had was how she reacted to you. I’m so glad that you now call my wife sister and that somehow she’s the only one who could ever get you to sing out loud. You have a really nice voice by the way.

And that little brother of ours? He’s grown up to be the kind of brother to you that I could only dream of being.

You’ve taught me more than you’ll ever know. Likely more than I’ll ever know. Like how peaceful sitting in a front porch swing can be. How the simple joy of getting a yahtzee can’t be overstated. How everyone deserves a hug and to be seen for the good they possess. And how every moment we experience can be pointed to something deeper if we let it.

Now, I never want you to stop being you.

We’ve shared many things, but nothing has been worth sharing more than our last name. Thank you for these past 24 years and for giving me the hope of looking forward to the next 24, and the next 24, and the next 24….


This is an open letter to my brother as he approaches his 24th birthday, but it could echo for anyone who has been touched by mental disability. For more on my brother check out Like a Crown: Adventures in Autism by my father, Robert L. Tucker available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Google Books.  

Photo courtesy of author

About Jacob Tucker

Jacob Tucker is a freelance writer, researcher, sports fan, foodie, musician, fitness & health nut, bookworm, husband, and believer. You can find him on twitter and facebook. He is still deciding what to do when he grows up.


  1. Corey Ash says:

    So proud to see the men that both of you have become!
    It has been my privilege!

  2. Tim Allred says:

    Dude, I think my eyes are sweating…

  3. I grew up with Joel, from day one in Kindergarten. It’s crazy to think we’re all growing up and sometimes I reflect back on the fact that I wouldn’t be who I am now without his friendship. He introduced me to reading and spelling – it was always a game to see which of us could do better on those spelling tests! – and such things have stuck with me to this day. It’s a funny realization, when it hits you, how the small acts of a person society would be so quick to dismiss can change your life forever. A small act indeed but I thank him for it. To those that know of someone on the spectrum of any disability, be it mental or physical or emotional, take the time to know them. They’ll change your life for the better when you’re least expecting it.

    This was a beautifully written letter. I am certain without a doubt he will appreciate it fully.

  4. My God–this is one of the most beautiful and moving pieces I’ve ever read. I am “on the spectrum”, though most people wouldn’t know it without getting to know me well. I have just enough insight into what it’s like to be on the spectrum to have a taste of both worlds–that of autism and that of the “neurotypical”. It’s a very precarious and liminal space to inhabit, but it’s what I’m called to be. You, Mr. Tucker, are another very special and indispensable type of ally for the autism spectrum community, including people at all points on the spectrum. Thank you so much.

  5. Wow JT…you and your brother are mutually blessed. I’m truly envious. Thank you for allowing me to see what its like to have a brother like the two of you. Seriously! This was pure Gold!!

  6. That’s beautiful.

  7. Bravo. »applause«

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