Thursday, June 4, 2009

I am my brother's keeper

I have a little brother, his name is Sam. Actually, I have a younger brother. I just like to call him “little”; he is actually about 6’5” and almost 300 pounds. He is a BIG boy. He is four years my junior and came for a visit over Memorial Day weekend. I seem to have subscribed to the old George Burns saying, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close knit family in another city.” Sam lives in Columbus, Ohio. He is quite the success. He is a college grad (Ohio State – don’t worry I send him Tennessee clothes every Christmas), a high level administrator at Nationwide Insurance headquarters, and has a beautiful wife, two adorable children, and two dogs (one of them is sweet, the other . . . well, let’s just say one of them is sweet). He is good to his family, friends and community. Overall, he is just an outstanding individual.

One characteristic that my brother has is charisma. You see, everyone that meets Sam, likes Sam. He is always the life of the party and the person that everyone wants to be around. He always has had this affect on people. However, I must have been the exception to the rule, because he seemed to have the exact opposite impact on me growing up. It was probably because we were born 4 years apart. He was simply the pesky little brother that I had to take places and allow to play in games with my friends. We spent most of our childhood fighting. Although, I will give him credit, he could take a beating. No matter how rough my friends and I were on him, he always came back for more.

But Sam was not stupid. He knew how to make my life difficult if I didn’t comply with my mother’s instructions. I remember on many occasions when we decided he wasn’t going to play with us that he would run into the house, tears flowing to tell on me. He became so proficient, that he could make the tears flow without being upset and would threaten us with, “If you don’t let me play I’ll tell mom you hit me.” I tried to call his bluff only to realize he was telling the truth. Because he was the baby of the family, my mother always took his word on it. I remember one such occasion when we went through this exact scenario and I told my mom how he was faking it. Her response was, “Oh Matt, he can’t fake cry.” I immediately glared at my little brother on the other side of the room only to see him giggling at me as the tears streamed down his face.

Why do I share these memories? Only to say that despite this tumultuous childhood relationship, I love my brother. I only see him and his family once or twice a year now and I miss him in between those visits. He is a good man and I hope that I had some small part to do with that. We must all appreciate our time with our family. It doesn’t matter if you had a rough relationship in the past, if you live different lives now, they are family. We should make a point of sharing family time, listening more, and lifting one another up rather than tearing each other down. I have done a good job of beating up my brother over the years. I need to commit to building him up for the future. As Mignon McLaughlin once said, “Family quarrels have a pleasantness beneath the unpleasantness, based on the tacit understanding that it is not for keeps; that any limb you climb out on will still be there later for you to climb back.” For more information on how to rebuild a relationship in your family, contact us at or 472-9876.

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