My big brother is extraordinary.

I realized just how much this Thanksgiving.

Both of our parents died within a year of each other.  They were young, just in their 60’s.  It  has been over 11 years since mom died.
I never thought of our relationship as close until they passed.  Most of our growing up was done apart; he with one parent and I, the other.  Divorce tore us in two.

We are much closer now.   Death does that I guess.  We had to learn to depend on each other.   I can honestly say that I need him now.  He and my aunt are all I have left of my family.

I remember when our dad died and he and I experienced the year of going through our dad’s things, the unexpected death,  as an opportunity to learn and grow closer instead of seeing it as a hardship.  I learned a lot about life that year.

Starting out homeschooling 10 years ago, Harry supported me when most everyone else didn’t.  I think he is my biggest fan.  He is the reason I started blogging in the first place and he even encouraged me to become a pen pal.  He stretches me.

Encouragement is a powerful force in this world of ours.  You never know the difference you can make in someone’s life.

 “You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits.  When we all help one another, everybody wins.”  Jim Stovall

He believes in me.  Really.

There aren’t many people I can say that about.

I admire him as only a little sister can.  However, Harry is very accomplished in his own right; his skydiving career stretches over 20 years,  an amazing aerial videographer , photographer and sports announcer, he helped found several organizations dedicated to jumping;  performed a lead role in the play, Arsenic and Old Lace, a student of communication, and of course; a writer and blogger.  He even wrote the forward to a base jumping book.

And he has cool hair 🙂

But what happened this Thanksgiving is what really makes him a hero.  My daughter was chewing food long after dinner.  My littlest (four year old) had apparently made cud of her chicken.  She tripped over something in our rec room (we later found a gash on the back of her arm) and screamed.  I knew that it was a really hurtful scream and I ran into the room and was holding her asking if she was alright.  She never exhaled from her scream, screwed up her face, and became limp and unconscious in my arms.  There was only a second that went by as I yelled to my oldest to call 911.  Literally 3 seconds tops.   There was no time to even peruse all the CPR instruction and classes I have taken.  And Harry swooped her up, gave her the Heimlich and literally saved her life.  Right in front of my eyes.  I am still not over it.

He never hesitated.

“Not the glittering weapon fights the fight, but rather the hero’s heart.” Frederick Jezegou

He has always been a risk taker.  We are about as different as two siblings can get.  I am the safe one; shooting for two weeks paid vacation a year,  a rung on the corporate ladder and a white picket fence.  At least right out of college.  Now I am content and most grateful to stay home with my kids.  I am boring in comparison.

Harry is different.  On the other extreme, his life is measured in the risks he takes and the adventures he makes and all the people he meets.  He was crossing the country right out of college.  He is the kind of guy who finds sea manatees off the beaten path while tourists go to the ‘tourist traps’ to see them in tanks.  He is the one who says ‘wait’ when everyone else says go.  He follows the beat of a different drummer.

He is a modern day Thoreau.

“Be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you…Explore the private sea, the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean of one’s being.”  Henry David Thoreau

I worry about him and pray constantly.  I  don’t really want to hear he jumped a dozen times a day from a perfectly good airplane.   Where will he be on Christmas Day?   I choke up just thinking about it.

(Now, if I can just find him a good Christian girl…:)

When he is on his deathbed (although I can’t imagine that) he won’t have the regrets most people have.  “I wish I would have…..”  His whole life has been a bucket list.  He has crossed the country more times than I know and has traveled abroad as well.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.”  Mark Twain 

We are blessed to see him once a year, if we are lucky.
Usually in the fall.   My girls always start looking for him when the leaves change colors.

This visit was different.  It is a new start.  And he came as a brother, Unkle, and professional.

We haven’t had a family portrait since before our littlest came on the scene four years ago.  It has been six years.  She looks at our old family portrait hanging on the wall in our den and asks pitifully, “Where am I, momma?”
There are advantages to having a photographer as a brother.  The girls learned and helped with a real photo shoot.  We all learned.  He is quite talented and so absorbed in the moment, I don’t think he knew I took his picture.

It has been many years since we spent Thanksgiving together.  And it was wonderful.  I am thankful for him.

The girls think he hung the moon…..  He is a pretty cool uncle.  Loves playing video games and held his own at chess with a 10 and 13 year old..  Even passed the Toxic Waste candy test.

(He is gonna kill me for this picture.)

I am very proud of him.

Before he left, he had a heart to heart talk with the two oldest, packed up, and then was gone.

I hated seeing him go.  I love him to the moon.

We are all going to miss him….

…………..But I can’t wait to hear about his next adventure.

Be safe big brother.

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

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