Monday, March 29, 2010

He's My Brother, He Ain't Heavy...

Dong, my only brother from my parents' union ( I have two more lovely brothers from my father's remarriage), is a junior. People call my late father Badong and my brother Dong. He was four years old when our mother died. Our youngest, Connie, was then two. With Connie's passing in 1967 at the age of ten, our immediate family was left with only three members- my father, Dong and I.

Being older than Dong and with my father's work as a soldier who was most often away, I was left as the only significant family member for my brother.
Our childhood was both merry and sad. Merry, because we had a lot of support from our parents' siblings and we had great neighbors who to this day have remained faithful friends to us. Sad, because during our most painful moments, we were only two to share our grief.
Dong is quite an intelligent student back in grade school. We both went up the stage to receive our ribbons during the recognition rites. He had close friends from our community with whom he hung out especially during summer when there's no school. Everything was normal with him until my father remarried in 1969. He was 13 then, I was 15.
At the time, he didn't understand what I was able to grasp at my age. My father was still young then and the woman he married was from a very good family. I didn't see anything wrong with my father's remarriage, in fact, I felt relieved that there was now someone who would take care of him. Unfortunately, Dong did not see it that way. He became disoriented. His perspective of things changed. He was lost in the world he started to create then. He stopped schooling. He got involved in trouble and more troubles. He went away, returned, went away again and returned again. It was a very tiring cycle which made me cry each time the wheel moved.

While I was struggling as a college student, Dong was training in the army. He would have been a regular at the armed forces, but when I got married a year after college, he dropped out of training and got married himself on the same year I did. That would have been a relief but instead, things got even worse 'cause now he has a family to feed and his lack of education could not land him a good job. One odd job after another, his family (with a son and twin daughters), had to endure hardships. Ironically, when his wife went to the Middle East to work, things did not turn out to be better. His daughter Sherryl, the other half of the twin, died of an illness in 2003 and after her burial, my sister-in-law decided to go back to her work. To date, she has been in Saudi Arabia for more than 25 years. I have no choice, because it is my moral obligation, but to help my brother out when he needed assistance. Today, I regret the fact that I did not send him to school. I was overwhelmed by my own emotional challenges which led me to take the leap and plunge into marriage. Being older, I know I should have done something to change the course of his life by encouraging him to go back to school but my selfishness at the time got in the way. I hope he forgives me for my shortcoming.

Through the years, I have become a constant source of help and support, material and otherwise, for Dong and his family. While there is a limit to what I can give, there is no ceiling to the love and care that I have for my brother. We do not talk as lengthily as we do with our respective friends, but we do know each other pretty well. And we have the same intensity of care and concern for each other. I am sure that even if he had no material thing to give me, he is ready to give his own life for me.

From our childhood years to the present, Dong and I have never even once quarreled. We have had no arguments. We kept our peace when one of us is hurt by the other. He listens to me when I start to evangelize or lecture him. In so doing, we developed a bond so strong it is worthy to be emulated by our children. I guess he has now realized the folly of resisting and refusing to accept my father's destiny to happen. He saw with his own eyes how our stepmother loved and cared for our father till his dying day. He may not verbalize it, but I'm sure he has accepted the things he refused to accept when he was younger.

Sometimes, it breaks my heart when I see how old and sad he has become. But I do not question his destiny. An old friend once said, when he learned of my brother's circumstances, that there are really people who are 'walang swerte", no matter how hard they try. I quite agree because I know of some other people who moved heaven and earth to find answers to their dreams, but they failed. But i'd like to think that my brother is lucky to be born in my family, with a father who early on has taught me that family is the most important thing in this world. I know in my heart that my brother now knows where he failed and why. I know that he knows I am always here for him. I know he loves me and that I love him back.

To borrow the lyrics of a
song, the road is long with many a winding turn for my brother. But I'm strong enough to carry him, for he's my brother. His welfare is my concern and he is no burden to me. There is no reason for me not to share anything I've got with my brother, because the road to eternity is a long road from which there is no return. With God by my side, and with my husband's and my children's full support, the load does not weigh me down at all. He ain't heavy.......... because he's my brother.

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