OK, so where was I…
I’ve been out west for the past few days, catching up with my younger brother and his family in the beautiful state known as Utah. His son was graduating from high school and it seemed to be the perfect excuse for me to go on the road with my youngest daughter. Father and daughter trips rock, I think. My brother is a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force, and is going to be deployed to Iraq within a few weeks, thus adding special emphasis to my desire to see him before he leaves.
He has done very well for himself, my little brother, moving up the military officer ranks and writing this makes me not a little proud to say so. It has been a tough road and he has paid his dues; nothing was given to him and at the same time, nothing was easy. He’s getting close to the end of his career and retirement is looming in his not-so-distant future. I can write that last sentence with a little jealousy thrown in, but that’s just me.
While there, we attended a cook-out in his honor given by the men of whom he commands, and it was patently obvious that they care a lot for him. We Johnson boys have that affect on other people, it is in our blood and part of what makes us tick. I was proud for him, again, but maybe in a different light than those in attendance would ascertain. To them he is Lt. Colonel Johnson, master of the finances on a base level and controller of massive defense department funds. Right ear of the Major General, solver of logistical puzzles, and yet still provides an innate ability to throw in a good round of golf from time to time. These are the things they see, and yet I know so much more about him.
We’ve fought with fists. We’ve loved the same girls. We’ve shared cars when we needed a ride and a bedroom growing up when we were small. I am honest when I admit that out of everyone in my family; he knows my heart the best. We are brothers in every sense of the word. Those at the picnic see the brass and rank insignia; I see the boy who cried when he busted a hole in the gas tank of his ’65 Thunderbird in our driveway and painfully watched a full tank of gas drain out into the gravel. When he cried, I cried. And the end of the story is that I gave him the money to refill the tank following a repair.
By the same token, he’s the guy that stood by me and helped me through a painful divorce, and later played intercessor for me when I was too shy to approach my future wife. I still think that trumps a tank of gas in the long run. But we were good for each other in all of the things life dished out to us, and though later separated by incredible distance, we remain close despite our infrequent amount of communication.
What will the future hold? We do not know. But the writer of Proverbs assures us “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” At first glance, that does not sound complimentary to a brotherly relationship, but you may need to read it again. What I see, and what I know from experience, is that friends are good and surely a good friend will always be there for you. But a brother? A brother is one who will be there through the really tough times - the times of adversity. A brother is there for you when there are no other possible solutions to your problems and you have reached the end of your proverbial rope. And I think we have been. I feel it in my heart and I know it throughout the distant memories I can call my own.
I’ll be praying for him while he is in the distant land of the Chaldeans. I have no doubts about his safe return in the meantime. I have peace on the matter; something passed down to me obviously from above. I’m hoping he has the same peace and that his time over there will not only go by quickly, but most of all it will pass in an uneventful manner. He’ll be needed here by me, and we’ll still surely need each other - when those painful times of adversity find us once again in the future.