I was driving home from the airport on Monday, as my brother boarded a plane to London via Charlotte, when it occurred to me (in a kind of Homer Simpson forehead slapping way) that yet again I had let him slip away from me without pointing out just what an incredible influence he has been on my life over the years.
In many ways, we are looking at life from completely different perspectives. I am married, with a large extended family. Ed is single, and lives with mum and dad, in the same house we grew up in.
I had a college education, became a qualified professional and have held nearly a dozen different jobs in many places. Ed left school without any qualifications and has worked at the same retail store since then.
I have flitted in and out of the Christian Church, usually because I am extremely intellectually questioning and am uncomfortable with overt emotional displays. I'm also self-centered and lazy, if you want to get right to it. Ed, on the other hand, has taught Sunday School diligently for many years, and has always expressed a simple yet unshaken faith that I have to admire.
Although we look alike, our most significant difference is that I am able bodied - albeit the body of a walrus after snack time - and Ed, who was stricken by Spina Bifida before birth, is confined to a wheelchair. Yet the truth is that while we have an incredibly intimate understanding through our love of music and the many shared memories we have of growing up together, it is his straightforward outlook on life that has impressed me the most. He is able to find happiness in the most simple things, things that I might ignore or take for granted. He can look at a catfish in a pond and be completely in that moment, lost to everything else. When I found a Cosby Show DVD set for him at the Cracker Barrel store, I overheard him describing this as though I had presented him with an Academy Award. We spent some time at a new retro-themed arcade (which was awesome, by the way) and he lost himself in the opportunities that visit presented. Once again, I had to evaluate my own life - pressures of work, worry about the mortgage, car loans, the economy - and found myself taking notes. This might sound a little simplistic, but it's absolutely true. When you grow up with someone who is unable to do so many things, it's impossible not to count the blessings in your own life, that you experience every day.
So forgive the lack of updates here lately. I've been watching some fish.