My oldest brother suffered a stroke a week ago and is soon going to be on his way to heaven. He was the patriarch of our family, beloved by so many people. It's hard to let him go. This man is simply amazing and inspiring - and because he is so inspiring I want to share just a few things about him in the hopes that you'll be inspired, too.
My brother is 82 (and yes he's a lot older than me so don't even go trying to do the math). Before a stroke felled him he was coaching his grandson's basketball team, taking voice lessons (and entering competitions right up against college kids), doing yard work for his daughter, attending a guys' Bible study, planning fun and games for family events and helping anyone and everyone who needed it. Talk about living a full life right up to the end!
Brother Ben never held an office. He wasn't a war hero (a bad eye kept him out of the service). He never wrote a book. But his life was a book on kindness and self-sacrifice, open for all to read. He and his wife took in foster kids, hosted countless parties for their own children and their friends. His home has been the extended family's gathering place for years and he and his equally generous wife have happily hosted Thanksgiving, Christmas, family reunions and Fourth of July celebrations. When we need a place to gather we go to Ben's. He has helped family and friends with building projects and given tirelessly of his time and building talents. He had a double lot on our family compound and there he built everything from slides to tree houses and zip lines. Oh, yes, and he constructed a miniature airplane kids could ride in that would tip from side to side. We called the fanciful backyard BennyLand. Our kids, his grandkids and any other kids who were around enjoyed BennyLand. Even more, we all enjoyed Benny himself. He was a crazy, fun-loving tease and he made life fun for everyone.
He certainly made my life fun, acting as a second father to me over the years, crashing my book signings in goofy costumes, teasing me relentlessly. I loved every minute of it. I've loved every minute of our life together as siblings. Benny, I'll miss you more than words can say. (And Sammy, you'd better stick around for a while!)
I think about all my brother has done with his life and it makes me want to do more, be more, bring more joy to those I love. It's such a short time we get here on Earth. I want to follow in my brother's footsteps and spend my time wisely and well. Big shoes to fill, as the saying goes, and the clock is ticking.
How about you? Is there someone in your life who inspires you? My challenge for myself and maybe for you, too, is to start moving beyond inspiration and into action. Lord, let me follow my brother's good example of kindness and generosity. Help me to do my part to make this world a better place.