Big Brothers: Part 1

There are not many subjects that I can write about with any real sense of expertise. But it occurs to me that I may be one of the leading authorities on one thing - big brothers. Having grown up with four older brothers (not to mention three older sisters) I feel pretty well-qualified to share my perspective. You see, I didn't just have any run of the mill, average Joe, kind of big brothers. I have been blessed with four stand out, stand up guys, all of which have made my life richer and my road a little smoother. I think I better take these one at a time.

The firstborn of our family is Pete or Melvin, Jr., or as I lovingly refer to him lately as "The Old Silver Back." (He is getting old and he does have a hairy back.) Pete was a hero to me as a kid. I remember watching him kiss his girlfriend through the glass when he didn't think we could see, an important life lesson. I will never forget when Pete was my little league coach, trying to help me quit being afraid of the ball and finally resorting to throwing the ball at me, until I cried and cussed and got so mad that I stood in there and hit the ball just to show him I could. I remember being at the old country club pool in Windsor and the lifeguard, Marcia Crow, blowing the whistle at Pete telling him to stop dunking everybody. Pete picked up Marcia in her chair right off her stand and threw her into the pool. Always a rowdy, my big brother, Pete.

Later on, when Pete and Susie were married, they let me come around in the summer time. Pete showed me how to refinish old furniture and he gave me a desk that we had worked on together. I used it for years. And later still, when I decided to become a preacher, it was Pete who let me come preach at his church in Smithville. I still have the letter that I found on his desk that day, words of encouragement that I have always treasured.

I learned other things from Pete as the years went by, ministry stuff. Like how to be tough and tender, when to be a prophet and when to be a shepherd. I have seen Pete stand up to those who would distort or misrepresent the Christian faith, unafraid of being labeled or condemned, and unwilling to back down. And yet, tough as he can be, Pete has a pastor's heart. He is a master in caring for hurting people, ministering in a crisis, helping to mend broken hearts. No one does it better.

And it never was just a job for Pete. It's who he is. Pete lives it all the time, as in the tender care he gave to Susie's parents in his own home, being a son, a nurse, and a pastor to Jeff and Maude until they passed away. I'm not sure I know anyone else who could, who would do what Pete has done for his family.

Now, that's a big brother. Not perfect, and still a big target for us who love him. Pete can be a little stubborn and insensitive at times and he knows it. But, where would I be without the Old Silver Back? God bless you, big brother. You are still a hero to me.


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