As the youngest child and the only girl, I had both the pleasure and the trauma of older brothers. My oldest brother, however, was ever the protector, ever the watchful, ever the wise as he assisted me in navigating early adolescence. You see, he left home when I was 12, and really never returned when he left for college at Tulane. However, he also played a role in feeding my wild side. He introduced me to alcohol, to my mother’s dismay, at 13 while in New Orleans when he took a friend and me to Pat O’Brien’s for some Hurricanes. He “chaperoned” me at my first Mardi Gras when I was 14. As a Southern Baptist, I never knew that there were men of the cloth who had any fun. I met the priest-teachers at Loyola who danced, drank and conversed like regular folks. In other words, he expanded my horizons but kept watch faithfully so I could explore and still be protected.
Fast forward now several years. Ok, decades of years. 58, to be exact. It’s been that long since I’ve spent any kind of quality time with my brother, but recently I’ve had the incredible pleasure of spending a glorious, uninterrupted week with him. Looking back over that many years is dizzying, as though from the peak of a mountain. We’ve both had professions, families, losses and gains in life. And now, here we were, together as though for the first time in a way, and yet as familiar with each other as though time had stood still for all of those years.
I was delighted to discover my brother to be kind, patient, intelligent, thoughtful and agreeable; very easy to spend time with. Our time together was free of judgments from either of us as to where we are (or have been) in life – just the simple pleasure of learning more about the people we are today, enjoying the bond of shared memories from long ago, and exploring the things I love best: family, glass, the outdoors, and Pisgah Forest.
If there’s a lesson to be gleaned from all of this, it’s an intuitive one: make time for the ones you love. It’s so easy to let the distractions and pressing responsibilities of life crowd out the still, quiet joy of comfortable companionship with those whose lives are so important to us. Thankfully, in my case, it’s a lesson I’ve taken to heart, and I’m now reaping the tremendous, priceless benefits –adding beautiful new memories to revisit and cherish, and taking to heart the words of Zig Ziglar:
“Spend time with those you love. One of these days you will say either, ‘I wish I had,’ or ‘I’m glad I did.’”