Sunday, August 7, 2011
My brothers are…
If my sisters are the glue that holds our family together, then my brothers are the bricks that give us shape.
Steven is my eldest brother by birth—a whopping eight years older than me! Steven is funny and fun to be with, and there are so many things I could tell you about him, but I’m going to tell you something that I don’t even think Steven knows that I know. When we were a young family, when your Grandma was working hard and going to school and struggling to keep food in our bellies and heat in our home, Steven was there for her. It has only been in this last year that your Grandma told me that Steve used to walk to the IGA on his way home from work on payday and buy two bags of groceries. One was the things he wanted—Doritos and Dr. Pepper. But the other was filled with things we needed—milk, bread, butter, etc. Steven is a wild card, full of life and fun; but don’t let him fool you. Beneath all of it, Steven has a heart overflowing with compassion and love for others. And…just to make you smile…when he was young, he used to wear a butter container on his head like a hat. No, I don’t know why. He just did.
Jeremiah is the life of every family get-together. He has an easy way of making everyone feel welcome. Maybe it’s his humor—I confess, it helps everyone to let their guards down and just enjoy being together. And trust me, Jer can go on and on and on with his humor. Sometimes it’s hilarious. Sometimes it’s totally bizarre. Sometimes it’s totally inappropriate. Sometimes it’s all three! But more than that, Jeremiah is fiercely loyal. He always has been. If you need him, he is always there for you. Once, when the whole family went to Green Bay, I was crying because my throat hurt, and while everyone else went shopping, Jeremiah sat in the car with me so I could rest. Such a small gesture, but I will always remember that he was willing to give up shopping with the family to stay with me.
Joel is the wild card of the family. Of the Upper Peninsula. Of the Northern Hemisphere. While he’s totally predictable in his weirdness, you never quite know what you’re going to get when Joel walks into the room. Is he going to leap over the furniture and pounce you? Is he going to hang upside down in the doorway? Is he going to sit on you and tickle you until you can’t stand it any longer? You just never know. I don’t think he always knows, either—and that’s half the fun of it. But more than any other person I’ve known, Joel has a tender heart. He loves people. He especially loves young people. And God has given him an incredible gift for ministering to young people—not only within a church setting, but as a teacher and coach, also. If I ever truly believed that God had called someone to a specific ministry, it is Joel.
My baby brother, Jesse, was never really a baby, I don’t think. We did a lot of “growing up” together, as the two youngest, but I always felt a bit responsible for him. Jesse is difficult to describe. He can be a bit crass, a bit rough-around-the-edges, a bit “tough guy.” But underneath that grizzly exterior, Jesse is all teddy bear. He has the heart of a saint, and he loves his family. I am, of course, proud of all my siblings for very different reasons, but I can’t tell you about Jesse without mentioning how proud I am. I see how much he loves his wife and how he works hard at his job and volunteering in his community, and I’m just overwhelmed with pride. He has grown up so well!
Rodger is my first brother through marriage. I remember the first time I met him…he had hair. Wow, right? Even before I met Rodger, he corresponded with me through mail. I still have his letters tucked away somewhere. Rodger is a lot of things—a Marine, a father, a brother, a friend, an historian. The list goes on! But the very first thing I knew to be true of Rodger was that he was an excellent writer. I don’t mean his grammar or word choice or style (though those were all very well), but his actual penmanship. His handwriting is the stuff writers dream of! Though I already had four brothers when Rodger came along, God must have known I needed another, because Rodger has never treated me as anything but a sister, and he has always been there when I’ve needed him. I wouldn’t trade him for anything.
And then, there’s Tim. Tim is different from my other brothers. He doesn’t tease the way the others do. We laugh together, for sure; he has an incredible wit that always catches me when I’m drinking something. I don’t pretend to dislike it. The humor is almost always worth the milk up my nose. But it’s not just a sarcastic wit. Tim is an intelligent man, so his jokes are intelligent. His humor reminds me a bit of C.S. Lewis’ humor—you have to really pay attention, or you’ll miss the punchline altogether! Tim is well-read, well-spoken, and well-grounded in his faith. He works hard, he takes good care of my sister, and he loves my mother. I can think of no higher praise to give him. I’m still working on Atlas Shrugged, Tim.
I love you, brothers, every one.
Kids, love your fathers and uncles. They give our family shape.
All my love,