One of the precious elders at my church is currently in the hospital with doctors questioning how much longer he will be alive. He is MY Brother George. YEARS ago (like 13) he just caught my eye. Something about him just made me smile. He was such a cute old man! Tall and lanky, with a smile that could light up a room, he would walk down the aisle speaking and shaking hands with everyone. I told my mom about this elder who had caught my eye and how I felt drawn to him. She encouraged me to speak to him, to let him know. Which, I did. I told him that he was one of my favorite elders to see, and from that moment on he was my adopted grandpa. We spoke every Sunday and Wednesday, I never missed an opportunity to speak to him and give him a hug. He always made sure he complimented me or gave me a word of encouragement. When my kids were born, he would tell me to cherish every moment. He told me stories of how he rocked his own child to sleep after he would get off of the night shift. In my mind I could see him – tired from a long night at work – holding a tiny bundle, no doubt telling a funny story or speaking about the amazing things he imagined that she would do.
He grew close to my entire family. I don’t know much about his family. It was not a conversation piece. But, my sisters, brother and I made sure we poured into his life. He cut down trees late in life, which meant an accident or two. We were there to “fuss” at him about being careful. When he would look weary, we made sure we talked to him and encouraged him. He would get upset if we missed more than one Sunday morning, and he expected to know why we weren’t there. Never failing to hug my shoulders or play with the “baby” (Judah, now 4) he was, and is, a pillar in my life.
Being at the hospital today, my heart ached and the tears flowed freely. He didn’t look sick. He wasn’t frail. He just looked like a grandpa, sleeping. As I talked to him, he would smile, and I knew he could hear me. I made sure I told him I loved him and how special he was to me. He is MY brother George. He deposited more into my life in one Sunday than most people do in years. He made me smile. He made me think. He made me laugh. He made me feel loved. He taught me about strength. He taught me about faith. He taught me about joy. He taught me about depositing.
I am believing he is going to pull through this. I am believing that the next time I see him he’ll be smiling, eyes just glistening, and he’ll laugh. I’ll tell him he needs to hurry up and get back to church, that the kids are missing him. He’ll tell me he’s trying and do his laugh/sigh and clap his hands like he always does when he is being silly. When he does get back, I’m gonna tell him I wrote a story about this amazing man, who stood as tall as the trees he would climb and chop down. Whose shoulders were so wide they looked like they could carry the weight of YOUR world on them. A man who has a smile that chases away rain clouds. A man who has no clue what an awesome influence he is in my life. A man named Brother George.