This weekend I had opportunity to spend some time with both of my younger brothers. The three of us are very different in many ways.
We were each born five years apart. I discovered America in 1950, Bruce came along in 1955, and Carl arrived in 1960. Each of us have two children. My sons were born in the 70's. Bruce's two sons were born in the 80's and Carl's twin daughters were born in the 90's. My older son is a pastor and the younger is a middle school teacher and coach. Bruce's sons are respectively a musician and a carpenter. Carl's twins are in high school.
Our lives have taken different career paths. Bruce is a truck driver, Carl is in stadium management, I serve in ministry as a pastor. Bruce is politically liberal. I am conservative. Carl is basically apolitical, but works for a commission that requires him to deal with all types of state and city politicians. Carl lives in Georgia, Bruce in West Virginia, and I reside in Kentucky. Our interests vary. Our personalities differ. We spend our (limited) spare time in different ways. You'll find Bruce laboring over his grill on weekends in the back yard. I'll write at every opportunity and get in a round of golf on rare occasions. Carl picks up his guitar and morphs into his alter ego, Dr. Strat.
With all our differences, there is one thing that unites us.
We are family, and it was a family crisis that brought us together this past week. Our Dad, who will be 82 in two months has always been like the Energizer Bunny. He just kept going and going and going - until a couple of months ago. Severe pain and weakness in his legs began to slow Dad down. Over a period of about six weeks we watched him go do depending on a cane to get around. Soon it was a walker, and then a wheel chair. MRI indicated that the problem was in his lower spine. An injection stopped the pain and brought Dad hope for a quick recovery - but the injection only masked the pain. The problem persisted and our unstoppable Dad - stopped.
Tomorrow will mark three weeks of hospitalization for Dad. First there was surgery at St. Mary's Medical Center to clean out the problem in the spinal canal in five of his vertebrae. Friday he was transferred to Health South Rehabilitation Hospital where he faces another three to four weeks of physical and occupational therapy to hopefully regain the use of his legs. The matter is complicated because our Mother suffers from Alzheimer's Disease and Dad is her primary caregiver. Obviously things have changed.
I was out of the country when Dad was hospitalized. Bruce took hold of the situation and was a tremendous help in getting Dad to his doctor's appointment and the hospital, and taking a week of his vacation time to care for Mom until we could all get together to make other arrangements. This set of circumstances is what brought us together this weekend.
In over thirty five years of ministry, I have witnessed families dealing with similar situations in light of the illness or death of their parents. Some have dealt positively with difficult circumstances, yet I have seen other families fight and fracture during times of crisis. I am so thankful that, with all our differences, Bruce, Carl and I are united in our resolve to care for Mom and Dad and to do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal. There was a unity of spirit among us as we discussed possibilities and various scenarios.
Each of us have known that one day we would probably have to face some type of crises as our parents aged. This past week has been a wake up call for the three of us brothers. We are facing situations that many other families face each day. We're not looking forward to the uncertainty of the future, but I'm glad that we are Family, and that God's Grace is sufficient for this need as well as any other.
One thing is certain. Mom and Dad brought us up. We're not going to let them down!