Sunday, March 2, 2014

My Beloved Brother

(the tribute Aunt Mary wrote to be read at my dad's memorial service.)
by Mary Johnson
I remember the day Bernard was born. I was barely 4 old years old. Dad took me, my little sister Freeda, and mom's teenage cousin Nadine Shafer to a mulberry tree with a farm wagon parked under it. He instructed us to stay there until he returned.
You can imagine our surprise when dad escorted us back to the house to see the new baby brother the doctor had brought in his black satchel. I don't remember whether I was glad that mom and dad decided to keep him or whether I ate another mulberry anytime soon after.
Upon my graduation from high school and turning eighteen, I felt it was time for me to leave home and seek employment. Dad responded, "Why don't you stay home and just enjoy this summer with your siblings? Once you put your nose to the grindstone, it will be a long, hard grind!" I had always known that dad loved his family, but it was then that I fully grasped the magnitude of his love, generosity, tender heartedness, and wisdom.
Acting upon dad's suggestion, I enjoyed the summer immensely before going to Kansas City to work.
The following summer, I learned the evening before my vacation began that dad and my 15 year old brother had had a disagreement resulting in Bernard running away from home 3 weeks prior. Of course I was distraught with worry same as dad and mom were. Mom told me that dad would pace the yard unable to sleep at night. They did not contact the law because dad wanted Bernard to come home on his own.
Dad's theory worked.
The afternoon of my first day home, Bernard returned. That evening we had much to be thankful for when a thin, very hungry lad joined us at the supper table. He and dad never brought up what they had disagreed upon.
Over 69 years Bernard and I shared many joys and sorrows. He grew up having goodness, honesty and integrity that was instilled in us by our parents. He was a pillar of strength to me when my husband Al died unexpectedly at his and Janet's house. He endeared himself to me forever by sitting on the bedside, gently patting my shoulder while I sobbed with grief.
On the eve of Sept. 19, following a writing class, "Building a Life Story", I wrote a story which I titled "My Dad, My Hero." Thinking my story complete, I mailed a copy to Debbie.
On the eve of Oct. 16 prior to the final class with no knowledge of Bernard being in the hospital, I decided to add an episode about him. Was it a messager from God to do so? A friend in my writing classes believes it was.
I was blessed with two brothers whom I loved dearly. It has broken my heart when I lost each of them.
In our sorrow we can be assured from Psalms 46:1, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

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