If my little brother, Greg, had continued to live on this earth, he would be 40 years old today. That is a birthday worth marking- you are totally an adult, but you still feel kinda young inside. Life is usually good at 40!
However, Greg’s spirit left this earth a little over four years ago. So, I don’t get to send the present, buy the card that chides one about being over the hill, or make the phone call.
Now, I cringe a little when I see the following types of Facebook posts:
“Happy birthday to PawPaw up in heaven today!”
“I know you’re celebrating your 35th birthday, Jack, with Jesus! Bet you have an angel food cake!”
“Heaven gained another angel the day you left us.”
“I know you are our guardian angel and are watching over us.”
I say to that, “BULL MALARKEY”. Ha. Not to be too harsh, but those statements are not Biblically based or theologically sound.
The Bible teaches us that God ordained days of remembrances for His people. He set aside times for people to rest and celebrate and reflect. He cares about what we care about, too. Personally, I don’t think they celebrate earthly birthdays with Jesus. I tend to think “”Anniversary of the Day You Made Jesus Your Lord” or Heavenly Arrival” days are of more importance. Also, I think the whole time/space continuum is different there. Minutes and days and years may not be relevant. Lastly, I really don’t think our loved ones are focused on anything earthly. I am pretty sure there is enough to see and do there while they are “waiting” for us to join them “in a little while”. Call me crazy or call me, maybe.
So, no cheesy birthday poems or memes or salutations from this chick. However, I will take this day to remember. Maybe you will remember something I don’t about Greg, and you will comment or share it with me.
Here are a few things I remember…
… standing on a chair outside the hospital nursery looking at a baby named Greg. Dad and Granny were there. I remember wondering where Mom was.
… Granny staying at our house after the baby came home. Mom was in the bed a lot.
… Mom taking pictures and asking me to kiss the baby’s forehead as he sat in the stroller. I recall not liking him very much. Darn little usurper was what he was!
… Greg liked Kit Kats as a kid. Mom always put them in his stocking on Christmas morning. I never liked Kit Kats much, so I didn’t try to get any of his candy.
…Greg liked Dr. Pepper. It was his drink of choice. In case we ever forgot, there was a huge brown residue stain from one that he opened and also had been all shook up. It shot up onto the popcorn ceiling in the kitchen, and remained for a few years. 🙂
… when he got that long scar that was in his eyebrow. He was chasing me around a barrel that had a piece of flat sheet metal over the top to prevent water from entering. I either had something of his or he was trying to hit me. I dodged, he dodged, and the metal cut through his skin as he misstepped. He cried and told on me, but I really only was trying to get away. I still felt guilty even as I declared my innocence.
… Mom picking me up from school one day and Greg had another bandage on his head. He evidently had fallen face first onto the wooden rocking chair and busted his head open again. Poor kid.
… yelling and swapping licks with him when we were home by ourselves. We both hit each other hard enough to cry, and then we both sobbed that we were sorry. Hugs all around.
… his red eyes and tear-stained face one night at a youth summer camp. He had realized his need for Jesus and wanted new life in Christ. That changed his eternity.
… how he called someone “belligerent” when he was in elementary school. My eyes widened as I asked my mom how he knew that word and what it meant. She and he both laughed as I sat with my mouth open.
… borrowing his cardigan sweaters when he was in middle school and I was in high school to expand my wardrobe. I remember being mad when he let another girl in his grade borrow that same sweater the next week.
… not approving of any of the girls he brought home or dated. I am sure now it was because I did not think they were good enough to date him.
… when he was kind enough to take Andy golfing when we were in college. He ended up teaching the basics by standing behind Andy and wrapping his arms around him to teach him how to swing. Would have loved to have seen that!
… that he leaned over and kissed me on the cheek as we stood in the foyer of the lobby on my wedding day. We were all waiting to go down the aisle. Dad saw it, grabbed his camera, and asked us to recreate it.
… how he traveled to Mississippi with Dad to help wire the house Andy and I were building.
…feeling like we were friends as adults.
…the phone call when he left a message on my voicemail saying he was engaged.
…how happy he was on his wedding day.
…when he helped Andy install fluorescent lights in our garage in Alabama
… the two times he and Janna came to visit us in Alabama and how much he enjoyed the Cheesecake Factory, the parmesan cheese on his Caesar salad and the guacamole made table-side.
…the joy on his face and giggle in his voice as he told me he and his wife were trying to have a baby.
…how he could imitate BG’s voice and speech pattern like no one else.
… that time when he called to ask me to pray for him because he was making some big changes for the better in his life that were tough.
…how you could tell that the employees that worked for him liked him and respected him as we toured his workplace.
…how he was a kid magnet. I remember how our younger cousins liked hanging out with him waaay more than me.
…how he kept Max the puppy for a few days before Andy received him for Christmas. I think that puppy ended up sleeping in the bed with him so he wouldn’t whine all night.
…the guilt and remorse he felt from egging the principal’s house and getting caught. Total life lesson.
…that the last time we spoke on the phone was on my birthday, four days before his accident. It was a good, sweet call that I know was a gift from our loving Father.
Thanks for walking down the lane of memories with me.
Now, I still see things that remind me of him. His children’s toes, for goodness sakes! He had those long finger-toes, and I see four little feet that already look like his. I see how they physically resemble him.
Mom and Dad took these two little people to the park last weekend. They wrote “Happy Birthday” and love notes on balloons and sent them up into the heavens to honor their daddy. Pretty sweet.
If I wanted to, I guess I could play the “What If” of “If Only” game that will make you mad and sad. However, I got on to Andy years ago for doing that, so I can’t be a hypocrite. Life is full of bad stuff. Plans don’t work out. People die earlier than we think they should. Children don’t always get to know their fathers. But God….
So, today I will remember and be grateful. I might even have a Kit Kat and a Dr. Pepper in tribute.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
…in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time…Titus 1:2
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13