On November 22, 2022, my next younger brother, Bob, died at 71. I cried.
We grew up together two years apart in school.
We shared many sports activities together. We clammed together. We worked together farming and mowing lawns as kids.
He taught me how to find my ancestors and create a family tree going back seven generations.
He was a more avid Yankees fan than me.
He was quieter than me, read more books than me, and remembered more movies.
Separated by almost 2000 miles we talked by phone nearly every day for the last year having grown closer through ancestry searches. We were less close before. These past ten years changed that.
We studied the Bible together when I lived closer to him.
Bob was kind, easygoing, and reluctant at displays of affection. I was grateful for the times he could say, ‘I love you.’
He was an expert chess player. I never learned.
My brother died 59 years after the assassination of JFK. We won’t forget that date or this one.
I watched him draw his last breath and I trust Jesus that Bob is in one of those dwelling places that our Lord was preparing for him.
It wasn’t easy to believe at that moment having watched 71 years of earthly life with its joys and sorrows ebb from him. All the memories, love, successes, and failures are gone. Perhaps.
I don’t really know. I trust Paul’s words that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord but I’m not exactly sure how, since this life is what I mostly know. Is my brother with my mom and dad? Does he know them? Maybe faith is found in the many questions and less in the answers so quickly given.
It’s Advent now, a time of hope and waiting. I wait with tears sometimes, and laughter other times. I look at memorable photographs and think of times when life was simpler and seemingly more joyful. Age brings troubles of many kinds. “Bound to come some trouble in your life,” is how Rich Mullins put it. Seems that thoughtful Christians know how best to grieve best. Love will do that.
Could more have been done for Bob? Or me or you? God knows. This life is fragile at best, its strength coming from God’s grace and earthly relationships. I am richer for the one I have had with him.
Someone told me that my brother would want me to be happy now. Maybe.
Bob never complained about his illness or any other troubles. Maybe he wanted to but I prefer to think that he carried the burdens well. I think he had help.
I think in some mysterious way Bob surrendered his life to bring a more meaningful life and love to those closest to him. That’s Christ’s way and Bob walked in that way silently and sometimes stoically. We all find our way.
I will remember my brother and learn from him about living and dying. Joys and sorrows. Faults and forgiveness and then one day we won’t have to search for our ancestors. We will see them.
I hope. Cause I miss my ancestry partner. I miss my brother.