Back in September we were traveling and happened to have lunch at a little cafe and sitting next to us were three couples.  We started talking, we were all about the same age sample point in life.  After lunch we walked outside of the restaurant and continued our conversation.  The three guys had grown up on Long Island and knew one another since nursery school.  One was a cardiologist, one was a lawyer and one was an accountant.  They told us that they had two official get togethers a year for sure and usually they ended up seeing one another a few other times, but for sure, the day after Thanksgiving to throw the football around and then out to dinner with their families and then a trip the three couples.  Sometimes just a weekend away and sometimes a trip.  Three men, age 59 who had known one another since age three, went to Hebrew School together, grade school, high school different colleges, saw one another get married one divorced and now contemplating the next stage, retirement.  It was something to see them, like brothers, buddies, bros, or in Macedonian, “Brachkos.”  Brachko is an endearing name for a very close friend.  My Dad and his buddies and cousins referred to one another as Brachkos.  It was a sort of greeting, “Hey Brachko”, they might have said to one another when they saw or called one another.  A Brachko is more than a friend it, is a term for someone you have experienced the ups and downs of life with.  

My Dad front, left, and a few of his Brachkos in Macedonia early-mid-1950s.

There is something quite beautiful about a lifetime relationships.  Of course you have it with your siblings and that is special, especially if you get along.  But the friends, some come, some go.  If you have a falling out and you can’t see eye to eye on the problem, there is not the bond of family to hold you together and sometimes, the bond is broken with a disagreement.  It happens.  But the Brachkos, well, that’s something quite different.  Those special long time relationships are a relationship all their own.  Sometimes they are relationships that start early in childhood, or maybe college or fraternity buddies, or maybe they are work buddies, neighbors or spiritual buddies from Church or the Synagogue.  They are the men that bond together.  In this instance, I am talking about men, but women can have that same bond in their friendships as well.   These are the guys that know how to ‘hang’ together.  Maybe they kicked a soccer ball around as kids, play hoops one night a week, play cards, ski on Monday nights in the winter or go

A few of the “Brachkos” in Flint, Michigan in the late 1950s.

on fishing trips once a year.  They share stories, they call one another out on their phoney baloney. In these groups, young men learn how to act around other men.  They call one another out when one gets out of line.  When the boys or sons are around they tell stories, play games and the young guys learn how to hang with the guys.  They learn how to treat and respect girls, value friendships and look out for one another.  Sometimes, there are unwritten rules as to how to behave and how NOT to.  A brachko wouldn’t insult another.  They know not to cross the line, rib, tease but never embarrass someone.  They know not to flirt or “move in” on another guy’s girl or wife.  They know the difference between being a friend to their friend’s wife and  flirting.  They would call out a married guy who was becoming too friendly with another woman at the bar. They know when to hold-‘em and know when to fold-’em.  They are the fun guy at the party without being the clown.  They know when enough is enough.  They are there for their friends in good and in bad.  They are the Dad’s who make it to the games and matches when they can get away from work.  They are the Dad or Grandpa who is the example of role model of how it’s done.  They are not afraid to tell their friend and family the truth when asked.  They’ll call their kids out on stupid behavior and make sure there are consequences followed through when the circumstances require.  They back their wives and their wives back them when it comes to their kids. 

Brachkos stand up for one another at important times in their lives, my son, Alex and his Brachko, Austin, at Alex and Amanda’s wedding.

     Every culture around the world has “brachkos.”  Sometimes these guys get a bad wrap.  Lately, they call it toxic  masculinity or something like that.  These are the guys who aren’t afraid to call a spade a spade and tell you how it is.  These men respect others and their way of life, from their neighbor to the family with a different faith than theirs down the street and all they want in return, is the right

My Uncle David, Dad and Uncle Angelo…Brachkos for a lifetime ❤️

to bring their kids up with their values and returned respect from others.  “All male” organizations, such as PromiseKeepers, the former all male, Augusta National, or others,  as long as there is respect and a worthwhile cause, what is the commotion about?  A camp for Jewish youth, a Christian summer place for likeminded people to gather, the Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts, Indian Guides what is wrong with men wanting to get together with other men men or women who wish to gather with other women or anytime people with a common interest want to gather? Men and Women are different and that is just science.  God made it that way and God doesn’t make mistakes.  Anytime men or women get together to support one another or teach boys and girls how to assimilate into society it is a good thing.  If these groups inspire people to be the best they can be and they go out in the world to make it a better place, what IS the problem? We all bring different talents to the party of life and can compliment one another.  There are skills and traits best left to a man or woman to teach a child and like wise.  Neither is better, but rather separate but equal.  To all the Brachkos in the world, keep being who you are and keep teaching the young men how to be who they are…It’s a Great Day!

Me with George, Angelo, Tommy and Done’, some of my Dad’s Brachkos from Windsor at my Uncle David’s funeral a few weeks ago…These guys learned how to be Brachkos from THEIR Dads…Brachkos are there ‘til the end ❤️