My Brother

Today my brother is only one year younger than I.

That irritated me to no end when we were kids.  I liked the fact that I was two years older than he.  But, for three weeks in March, that distance shrank to 1 year.

Oh, I know.  We were still 11 months and three weeks apart and that pretty much equals 2 years.  But, to a kid who’s 8 and who’s brother suddenly turns 7…that’s cause for alarm. 😉

Ah, but I always gained that year on him when I had my birthday.

For some reason that made me happy.

As I grow older I wonder why…you know? Being the older of two siblings isn’t all it’s cracked up to be at age 8.  Eventually he gets bigger and stronger than you.

Puberty (usually) hits the older of the two first and there is a rapid increase in height and weight.  But, it hits the other one, too.  And, licks passed “in play” don’t feel so much like play when they come from a fist that packs more punch than your own can.

My brother…there was a time when I would have given him away.  I’m sure he felt the same about me…probably would have paid someone to take me.  We were different…came at life differently…saw things differently…. We fought and scrapped as we forged our place in life and found our place within family.

And, we played, too.  Oh, my, how we played!  Some of my best childhood memories are of playing with my brother.  He was the BEST playmate!

I loved my brother – and would do anything to get his attention…even going to the extreme of irritating him and risking his wrath.  I wanted to be with him…to be a part of his life and him to be a part of mine.

There’s a verse in the KJV Bible that says a friend loveth at all times and a brother is born for adversity. As a child I thought that meant brothers and sisters were supposed to fight and argue.  “A brother is born for adversity.”  …made sense to me. And, it sure explained why I ended up in time out sitting across from him when I’d rather be out playing or riding my bike.

KJV was the only translation I had. And, if the Bible said it, well…it was true.

What I didn’t know was that the verse meant something quite the opposite.  I was seeing it in the context of my own experiences and understanding.

I couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

A friend loves always and a brother is there with you through thick and thin.  Ah…quite a different thing.

Since my dad died and we moved here to help Mom, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know my brother after living away for over 30 years.

We’re still different – as different as daylight and dark. He has his way and I have my own.  He has his life and family and I have my own.  But, we’re also the same.  And, that sameness is comforting.

Where I once would have given him away, now I wouldn’t take anything for him.  He’s precious to me – not as a playmate or co-conspirator – as a strong line of defense, as a help…support…as a backup….

When we moved here it was with the intent of being close enough to Mom that I could slip down and see about her every day and help out with whatever was needed. This would free others up to see about their own responsibilities (along similar lines).

In the past month life has taken us in directions we didn’t expect (death, travel, illness) and Brother has stepped in to fill the gap.

I knew he would – I mean, there was no doubt about it.  My brother is that way…good as gold, involved, considerate, loves Mom, will do anything he can for anyone….

But, when Mom said he had called her (now, understand he AND his wife call her everyday) and asked if she needed anything from the pharmacy or grocery…that he knew I’d had my own issues to deal with…wanted to do what he could to lighten the load on me and help out where it was needed…wow…do you know what that did for me?

Proverbs 17:17 came to light in a whole new way.  “…and a brother is born for adversity.”

Yes, he is!  And, I’m so thankful for my brother.  I thank God daily for the gift given me 11 months and 3 weeks after my own birth.  I couldn’t ask for a better brother or a better friend.

I love you, Mark!  Happy Birthday!

Any time you want to jump ahead and be older than me, feel free to do so!  I’ll gladly hold back a year…skip a birthday just so you can be a year (or two) older.

I love you, Bro!  Thanks for being you!

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