Most people don’t understand my family dynamics. I don’t understand everyone’s family dynamics either. I have two families. My natural family that gave me birth, and my adopted family that adopted me as a young man. I have had two wonderful mothers, who both gave me their best. My natural father never knew how to be a father until shortly before his death. My adopted father was a very good dad, but never wanted me to look back. I was lucky, I had two families.
This past week my only natural brother (Claude Edward) was killed in a auto accident. He was fourteen years older than me. In some ways he was more like a father than a brother. He dropped out of school and went to work to help my mother make a living. He was someone that I could count on. His life wasn’t easy. He married a lady who made a rocky marriage their entire marriage until he finally divorced her. He later remarried and found some happiness.
While my brother was never the type to say “I love you,” I knew he did. After our mothers death and I was adopted, he kept tabs on me. He took pride in the fact that I was the first person in our family to graduate high school. He even drove one hundred miles to come to my college graduation. The year between high school and college he gave me a job at his construction company. I was not a very good builder, but I could carry lumber, get supplies, clean up after the crew and do other jobs. Even when it was difficult to keep employees, he kept me on board (when I should have been the first let go) to earn money for college. When I was given a newer car by someone, he bought my old car (my first car), not because he needed it, or could even use it, or even afford it, but just so I would have an extra money for college.
He never said it, but I always knew he took great pride in me. He always teased me about being a minister but I also saw the smile on his face when I received my doctorate. It was in his later years after he remarried that he returned to church. We were typical brothers. We argued, we disagreed, but we were family and we loved each other. I hurt for not just my loss, but Paula’s loss and his two girls and his grandchildren.
My brother taught me how to be a man. He taught me how even when your own personal life can be in the pits, you can still make a difference in the lives of others. He taught me that there is a satisfaction in doing something for someone else. That is the type of brother I want to be.