Mike’s brother Gary was in town recently. He lives in Toronto and frequently comes to Vancouver on business. It is a great opportunity for us to see him. Mike and Gary are eight years apart…Gary being the big brother. Because of the eight years and three sisters that separate them, Gary and Mike weren’t necessarily that close growing up. But they did share a closeness that Mike often speaks about; they shared a bed room. Mike tells me that being the younger brother he had an earlier bed time than Gary. He would have to go to bed alone and was afraid of the dark. He says he would lay frozen in his bed, scared of the monsters in the closet and was so relieved when it was time for his big brother to crawl into the bunk below him. Gary played the Beatle’s Abby Road record and Mike says he would fall asleep listening to what is still his favourite album. Mike’s big brother offered something that was invaluable to him: comfort, security and protection…and some great tunes to help him drift off to sleep.
I always wanted a big brother. I have a big sister and as a child, I dreamt of having a big brother as well. When my sister married her husband Peter twelve and a half years ago, my dream came true. I got the big brother I always wanted…and it was well worth the wait.
Peter would do anything for me…just like a big brother. Mike isn’t much of a ‘handy man’, so Peter is my ‘go to’ guy. If I need something assembled, I call Peter. If I need shelving hung, I call Peter. Computer problem, leaky faucet, new light fixture…I call Peter. He has put down flooring, put up a wall and helped paint the outside of our house. He has shown up with his lawn mower, weed eater and that big saw like thing to trim our high hedge. Peter is kind and thoughtful and he looks out for me and my family…just like a big brother.
Mike was lucky to have a big brother growing up and lucky to acquire three more over the years when his sisters got married. Like the big brother I acquired, his would do anything for him too. Big brother (in law) Mike is a fairly quiet person, with a huge heart. Do anything for you at the drop of a hat kind of guy. I talked to big brother (in law) Ross on the phone the other day and just in the few minutes we talked he said something that revealed his compassion and thoughtfulness. And then there is big brother (in law) Gary. Mike and Gary have been great friends since they were teenagers. Their relationship reminds me of a verse in Proverbs that says: There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother… Gary is that kind of friend. He’d give you the shirt off his back!
(It can get confusing because out of five guys, there are two Garys and two Mikes and brother-in-laws Mike and Gary are brothers too)
On Gary’s most recent business trip (back to Mike’s brother, not brother in law), our son, Nathan, Mike and I picked him up at his hotel and went to a Greek restaurant close by. Mike had been to the Greek restaurant before and said it had good food at good prices. He knew it was in the area, but not exactly sure where. We headed in the direction he thought it was, and sure enough, we drove right to it. Gary thought that was pretty good and said that he had a terrible sense of direction. After we were seated, Gary told us a story to give us a better idea of just how bad he was with directions. He said that once while on holidays in the United States with his family, he and his three children ventured out in the RV. When it was time for them to make their way back to where they were staying, Gary got lost. He said he approached an intersection and when he looked down the street to the right, he saw a fire truck, so he turned to follow the truck thinking it was probably going in the direction of the town. When he heard the marching band behind him, he quickly realised he had joined a procession of floats, antique cars and clowns…he had drove right into a parade. In time with the beat of the drums behind him, Gary started waving and his three teenagers hit the floor. I don’t really do the story justice. When Gary told it, it was so funny…we were killing ourselves laughing.
The parade story reminded me of something I once heard; something that has stuck with me for years, but I can’t remember who said it. Anyway, it goes like this: our lives are like a parade. As we look on, we can only see one float go by at a time. But God, who looks down from above, can see the whole parade…the beginning and the end at the same time. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but He does and that brings me a lot of comfort and peace.
Note to our big brothers: Thanks for everything! You are all nice guys and great men!
Nathan, Mike's brother Gary and Mike
Mike and brother in law Gary making a toast