TODAY’S FORECAST: Thankful for the “ties that bind.”
When I was five, I got the most amazing Christmas gift, my little brother, Michael Joseph. I laugh now as I type the world little, because Mike is anything but. At over six feet, he towers above me by a good foot and refers to me lovingly as his “leetle seester.” He’s been known to use my head as an armrest from time to time, just to prove once and for all who the “bigger” sibling really is.
Mike is adopted. He is not my blood relative, he is my love relative; in this case, love runs much thicker and deeper than blood. We are family. We’ve loved each other, survived each other and come out friends on the other side.
Some would say Mike and I are complete opposites, and to some extent, they would be right. We look nothing alike. I already mentioned our height difference, but that’s only where the list begins. While I am naturally lighter haired and more fairly complected, his hair is very long and dark, and he’s got more olive skin tones. Where I’ve got a bit of “suburban yuppie” flowing through my veins, he’s a self-proclaimed red-neck. Where I made my living in an office for most of my working life, Mike’s a carpenter by trade. I can hardly turn a screw-driver without stripping a screw, but he can build or fix anything including houses and cars. He and his wife, Heather (who I also adore!) built their own greenhouse and were recently featured by their local media for growing and selling GMO-free produce. I can’t keep one “hearty” house plant alive, let alone a whole greenhouse full of them! Mike loves fishing. I, on the other hand, can’t bait a hook without first turning three shades of green because I had to touch a worm, a minnow, a chicken liver or whatever slimy thing has to go on the end of that line.
Yet despite our differences, Mike and I are alike in a lot of ways too. We both still love Mom’s cooking and eat heartily at family gatherings. We voted for the same political candidate and have similar views on what’s gone wrong in the world today. We both enjoy a good campfire; there’s just something about sitting around a fire under the stars “shooting the bull” that we still both get a big kick out of. We both love God. We worship in different ways, but as quiet as he is about it, there are times I’ve seen my dear brother live his faith in ways I would have never dreamed possible. Like when he went to volunteer at Ground Zero after 9/11, how he treasures the earth and respects its resources, his kindness and love to animals, the way he loves my children.
My brother is simply put, awesome. He’s unconventional, honest and would give you the shirt off his back if the occasion called for it. He is extremely intelligent and well-read. You can ask him about any subject and he probably knows something about it and if you look it up, he’s always right. He doesn’t get riled up about the things that drive me totally crazy; he’s a good dose of calm in my seemingly always chaotic life. He’s not about appearances or society’s standards; he’s about living and being thankful for what he has. He works hard and lives simply. He never seems worried or stressed, and while I know he is sometimes, he doesn’t let it rule him. I’m honestly a bit envious of that.
My brother loves his Harley and when the weather gets nice he and Heather are sure to be seen with their leather and bandanas on the back of his bike. I usually hate motorcycles, but not when I’m riding on the back of Mike’s with my arms wrapped tight around him. There’s no fear, only love. I thank God today that he gave me such a precious gift in this love relative, I call “brother,” “friend” and “confidante.”
I wrote this prayer today. For those of you who don’t have adopted siblings, I’m sure you have “love relatives” that are just as dear, even if they’re friends or in-laws.
Dear God, thank you for the gift of my love relative (insert name here). Thank you for the memories we’ve made together over the years. Thank you that we have both risen above our individual life’s struggles and come out stronger and more faithful people. Let us always stay close and respect each other, even when our opinions differ. Help us to only grow closer year by year and to continue to make beautiful memories with our extended family in You. I ask this in Your name, Amen.
ENDNOTE: Michael Joseph if you’re reading this, I’m proud of you and I love you so very much!!! Thank you for keeping me grounded, for showing me what being “real” means and for loving me as you do.