Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Brothers passing it on

“…do not imitate what is bad, but what is good…” -3 John 11
It’s been said that, “imitation is the greatest form of flattery.” In other words, if someone copies what we do, they are paying us a compliment. If someone wears what we wear and it makes us feel good. But if negative actions are imitated, we’re not so encouraged. We need to remember that kids soak up what they observe from those they trust the most. I was the youngest of four boys and always got the hand-me-downs. The funny thing is, I didn't mind it at all. I liked my brothers (I still do) and pretty much treasured what they passed on to me. I admired them a lot, so when a worn madras shirt or an old pair of penny loafers were replaced by them, I was glad to wear my brothers used “groovy” clothes. Here’s the reality: if my brothers had passed down switchblades and hand grenades to me, I probably would have thought those were cool too. I admired my brothers and trusted them. That automatically meant that whatever was acceptable to them was going to be acceptable to me. Scary. By far, the coolest thing passed down to me was a 1969 V-8, 350 4-bbl Chevrolet Camaro. The brothers had driven it for years and by the time I was 16, the brothers were off to college and the Camaro was mine! I made one major addition to the Camaro. I installed an 8-track player and speaker. It was quite a vehicle and I appreciated my brothers keeping it in good shape. But more than the Camaro, they passed on other qualities. Determination. Growing up in Texas, my brothers all played (you guessed it) football! And all three of them were good at it. Sports were a big deal in our family and we all did our best. My brothers taught me that “if your ship doesn't come in, then swim out to it.” They showed me that if I gave my best, I could expect the best. Importance of family. Our family was far from perfect. Most “all boy” families are not going to win many awards for compassion and sensitivity. But growing up, we spent every summer driving to Georgia to visit and love extended family. All the brothers made most of those trips. I learned that “blood is thicker than water.” Appreciation of history. Though none of the brothers majored in history, all the brothers were into American history, especially the Civil War. My dad started it by always telling stories about our southern roots. The brothers picked up on it and it’s still a topic around the table when we’re all together. We gave each other books this past Christmas and they were all about the Civil War. Roots matter. A focus on helping people. All the brothers are in people-helping professions. None of them went into financial services but into fields that involve human service to others. I followed suit and learned that, in the end, it’s not how much money one possesses but how much talent one gives away. None of my brothers is perfect, for sure. We all have the tendency to be head strong, stubborn, and controlling. But I thank Pel, Marc and Bob for all the lessons they have taught me and for taking care of me as their little brother. I pray for many more years together and blessings for them and their families. Thanks again for the Camaro. And still feel free to send me any old clothes and shoes in your closet! By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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