I went to see Marshall last night and today. My brother lives in Boone, North Carolina, an isolated place in the hills far from Kentucky. My sisters Karen and Kelli went with me, and my niece, Susannah.
Seeing my brother in such a weak condition is devastating. He cannot speak, he lost his voice years ago after an auto accident. He whispers and it's difficult to understand him, however, he can show expression with his eyes that needs no words. I know exactly how he feels, what he's thinking and saying just by seeing his reaction.
He is tired. Tired of people asking him if he is in pain. Weary of experts telling him what he can and cannot have. Sick of being sick and depending upon his children to take care of his personal needs. He does not have an air of resignation, though. He is fighting and trying to make every moment last. He realizes how precious life is, and he cannot let go. When we arrived today, it was hard to recognize him, but as I sat down with him, there was no mistake, this was my brother, who is like no other.
He may be sick, but he is a human being. He is worthy. He is a redeemed and forgiven child of God. He may not be rich, but he has garnered innumerable friendships in his lifetime. His children are polite, responsible adults who are not only beautiful on the outside, but their souls are sweet and thoughtful.
Somehow today we convinced his doctor to allow him to have a beer. The look on his face when I gave him a sip in a cup was sheer delight...he smelled it first...let the aroma linger and enjoyed it in a way I have never quite seen anyone enjoy anything. To have all your rights taken away from as one does when illness takes its toll on the body is disheartening to say the least. However, he still knows what he wants, he asks for it no matter how long it takes to convey, and he is thankful for every gesture and assistance. His sense of humor is still as it always was, the disease has not taken that from him and for that, I am grateful.
I have cried a lot this week, mourning the loss of the brother of my childhood, of my youth, my adulthood. I will cry more tears, I am sure, and I am so sorry for all the hurt I may have ever caused him in our lifetime. I had the chance to apologize to him today and to hug him and remind him of the golden moments we spent together as children. He smiled, he got the joke, he liked the song. Well, ya can't ask for much more than that, now can ya?
We do not think about the things we say sometimes, at least I know I don't, not to the degree that I should. People will never forget how you make them feel; and to make anyone feel less than human, to consider yourself a smarter, richer, better, more talented person than anyone else makes you less than anyone else. That is what I think, anyway. I am tired myself. I am tired of pretentious people who continue to use their status to prop themselves up and preen on their pedestals. I have a bad taste in my mouth for those sorts of folks, and just have no desire to be in their company. If I'm not your equal, if my brother and sister are not your equal, then I will pray for you...because someday, you will be in a bed, dependent upon others to feed you and wipe you clean, and you will be the less than rich, less than healthy, less than perfect and talented one you consider yourself to be...and you will recall the unkind words said to others, and unfair treatment.
I love my brother and my family; nothing is more important than family. Nothing. I hope all my lambchops discover that, and recognize the worth of every human being, no matter what their circumstance may be.