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Posts Tagged ‘brother’

Last week’s blog was posted several days early as Kirk and I headed out to Florida on Easter Sunday to attend my brother’s funeral on Monday. I cannot begin to explain the experience that I had. I knew that my brother was very special in his kindness and caring and willingness to help others and I was so very happy that he was able to combine all of these wonderful attributes into a very successful career. But what I learned at that funeral left such a lasting impression on me that I really felt so full of joy.Standing outside of the church before the funeral began, there were 5 gentlemen who sought me out and introduced themselves to me. They all were men who had been hired by my brother to run operations at several of the plants around the country that were owned by the company for which my brother worked. They explained how they felt about the person that they had known and one even told me that my brother had been his mentor. Each was so genuine in his love and respect for my brother as they paid their respects to him that I knew how much he had meant to each of them.There was also another man who was there by himself for the funeral who indicated that he had to leave immediately afterward to return to his job but who took the time to tell his story to Kirk and me. This gentleman had been working at the plant in Atlanta and had repeatedly asked to be transferred to the plant in Florida but to no avail. One day my brother happened to be walking through the Atlanta plant when this individual decided that he would approach him and ask him directly about the possibility of a transfer. He told us that within one week he had received the transfer for which he had waited so very long and he made it very evident how much that had meant to him. There was no way that he would miss this opportunity to pay his final respects to a man who had changed his life forever.

And then there was the man who obviously was my brother’s best friend. He gave a beautiful eulogy and really captured the essence of my brother. Later at the gathering after the funeral, he and his wife went out of their way to join Kirk and me and to not only tell us so many things that I didn’t know about my brother but also to tell us how my brother felt about my sister and me and what we meant to my brother. It didn’t take long to realize that if my brother had shared such intimate details with his friend that this guy must really be someone so very special and before the end of the day, we sure understood that he truly was a special person and a special friend to my brother.

This friend shared a very special story with us. It seems that when my brother lost first a kidney and then a lung to renal cell cancer, he became involved in not only volunteering with his wife at the Ronald McDonald House but also started making calls to other survivors of this type of cancer. He made a special connection with a gentleman in the state of New York who wanted to give up on life on a good number of occasions but my brother would continually talk to him and explain to him about all the reasons that he had to continue. Over the next 14 years of my brother’s life, they continued to talk and he continued to motivate his new friend to keep on going. My brother passed away on Tuesday, March 18th but his friend’s family did not tell him about the passing until Easter Sunday. Within 48 hours, my brother’s New York friend passed away also and went to join the man who had kept him going in this life for so very long.

What a man my brother had become. What a legacy he had created for himself and how fortunate I felt to have had the opportunity to learn all that I had about him. How could I possibly mourn my brother’s death knowing all that he had suffered through and all that he had accomplished? No, I was so grateful that he had made such a difference in so many peoples’ lives, that his pain and his fight with cancer were finally over and I celebrate a life so very well lived.

 

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In last week’s blog, I wrote about my brother’s having surgery this past Tuesday. We expected that things would go along perfectly as they have every time in the past with his many surgeries over the years as a result of renal cancer and the pain resulting from damage done in his back in removing various tumors.But two hours into his surgery he suffered a heart attack and they were not able to revive him and he passed away.Now I must say that I had been praying very fervently to God that my brother would have no more cancer and no more pain. And he certainly answered my prayers. I first thought that I should have been a little more specific by asking that he keep my brother alive while fulfilling the first part of my request but I soon learned that would not have been in my brother’s best interest. For once they started the surgery and removed the metal that had been placed in his back in previous surgeries to stabilize some fused disks, they found a new tumor on his spine.

So God answered my prayers in the only way possible as my brother is no longer in pain and he will not have to deal with anymore cancer. I have been picturing him in heaven having met up with my dad and Uncle Joe and sharing a cocktail and talking about golf. I believe that hell is actually here on earth as we go through all of the pain and suffering that we create for ourselves until we learn all of the lessons that we need to learn. Then we are allowed to leave here to be with God. To me, that is the meaning of “eternal reward”.

For me, I am not going to spend my time grieving the loss of my brother but rather to use my energy to celebrate his wonderful life. I have such fun memories of our growing up as he and I were very close as kids. If we got in trouble, it was usually both at the same time. One example that stands out in my mind is the day that we got caught playing with matches. Believe me when I say that the ramifications were not pretty.

Another is the day when we were standing on his bed which was in the corner of his room and we were leaning against the wall. Something unremembered made us laugh so hard and the bed started moving away from the wall and we slid all the way down the wall until we hit the floor. We were literally pinned into that crevice and still laughing like crazy until we peed our pants. Of course, we got punished as we had no business standing on that bed in the first place.

And I guess the all-time bad deeds were actually done to my older sister when she was charged with baby sitting us. You see, she got just a little too bossy for our tastes, so he would hold her and I would hit her (no, we didn’t do any damage) when she got too far out of line. Of course, she told our parents when they got home and we got punished but we didn’t care because we knew that when we were all left along again, we would get her for tattling on us.

There are so many more stories like these that will continue to come to mind in the coming weeks, months and years. In addition there will be all of the wonderful memories as I recall the evolution of that kid into a wonderful man who worked hard in every way to create a good life for himself and the fabulous wife that he adored. He was kind, loving and caring and I will miss all of that. But, most of all I will miss his unique sense of humor, his teasing and his needling. There was nothing that was more fun than to watch his expression with that little bit of a smile that continued to expand whenever he felt that he pulled a good one on someone else. I am looking forward to seeing what he will do now that he is on the other side. I am sure that we are all in for some very good laughs in the future and we will all welcome every single one of them.

 

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