Yesterday was my brother’s birthday. He’s celebrating in heaven.
This is the second birthday of his since he’s been gone. I started thinking about something I could do to celebrate his memory. He was a man who loved Jesus, loved his family, and loved life, in that order. He was so much fun to be around, but he also had a serious side. He was frugal, yet generous. I wondered what I could do in his honour.
My daughter suggested an organization in Calgary, where my brother had lived. She commented that he especially made a point of helping the people around him. I plan to look into that one.
The thought crossed my mind that since today was the Terry Fox Run, maybe that would have been a logical thing for me to both participate in and support. While I do support this at my school, I haven’t been able to embrace it as something that represents my brother. Yes it was cancer that took him, but cancer did not define him. It was something he fought valiantly against for eight years. But it was not his cause.
My brother’s cause can be described in these words from Matthew 22:37-39, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.” My brother looked for opportunities to share his faith. He also quietly grabbed opportunities to do good for others, in very practical ways. Some heart-warming stories of these were told at his funeral. I could have told more stories (but not at the funeral… it’s a hard thing to be in the front row at a funeral). One time when he knew we had a financial need he just gave me a cheque. He said it was part of his tithe, even though it wasn’t through any official channels and wouldn’t get a tax receipt. When my son graduated from Bible college, his uncle gave him a cheque as a gift to encourage him. During my daughter’s college years she lived closer to my brother than to us. Her uncle gave countless hours of his time to help her fix and later sell her car. This was despite his ongoing treatment and limited physical stamina at the time. I could go on.
My brother did not do any of these things for recognition. In fact, he tended to avoid the spotlight (except to be goofy). He was not a saint in the way one tends to think of saints. He had been through his own challenging journey in his younger years. He loved to play sports like hockey and basketball. He took joy in fixing and riding his dirt bike. He took trips with each of his kids, and tried to build meaningful memories that they could hold onto. He also had a knack for trash talking anyone who supported a rival sports team. He was an ordinary guy who knew what Jesus had done for him. He showed his gratitude in the way he lived his life.
I’ll find a fitting way to pay tribute to his memory. If I could talk to him today I’d say, “Sorry about the Roughriders! And I miss you. And thanks.”